While consumption of grapes and grape products has long been associated with a healthy lifestyle, a new supplement published in the September issue of the Journal of Nutrition provides further evidence that grapes and grape products may play a key role in optimizing health by mediating beneficial biological responses. The vast array of naturally occurring plant chemicals in grapes and grape products are thought to be responsible for the beneficial effects observed. The potential areas of beneficial impact include cardiovascular health, cognitive function in older people, cancer, inflammation, diabetes, and dental health.

The current Journal of Nutrition supplement highlights key presentations made at a meeting of researchers from academia and advisory members from government, who gathered together earlier this year to present and discuss research on the links between consumption of grapes and grape products, diet and health, and disease prevention. The workshop was sponsored by the National Grape and Wine Initiative (NGWI).

"Within grapes and grape products, there are chemical classes of natural compounds which are capable of mediating biological responses against a variety of targets," said Dr. John Pezzuto, Dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii Hilo, who moderated the Grape and Health Workshop. "In considering grapes and health, a broader view - that takes into account all of the grape's chemical components including their metabolism, biological potential, biodistribution, absorption and processing - is key to developing a comprehensive and coherent explanation of their role in improving and supporting human health." Pezzuto outlines an innovative approach for achieving this in his contribution to the supplement.

Consuming grapes and grape products may be an effective and inexpensive way for consumers to prevent such diseases as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and tooth decay while improving the immune functions and increasing cognitive and motor functions among older people.

The "Grapes and Health" supplement also includes information on seven other topics regarding grapes and their many potential benefits:

-- Cardiovascular health
-- Immune function
-- Cancer
-- Cognitive function/brain health
-- Anti-microbial/anti-adhesion capabilities
-- Bioavailability of grape compounds in metabolism

"It was fascinating to bring such a diverse group of experts together to consider and discuss the consumption of grapes and grape products and the potential ability to optimize one's health," said Jean-Mari Peltier, President of NGWI. "The interest in grapes and health is very strong and there is no doubt that research in this area will continue at full force."

NGWI is a nationwide coalition representing all segments of the grape industry including: raisin, juice, fresh grape and wine. NGWI membership includes grape growers, processors, wineries and representatives of academic institutions and cooperative extension organizations committed to improving our industry.