Researchers at the University of Los Angeles, California, suggest eating grapes twice day could lead to improved attention span and working memory in people with signs of early memory decline.
In a new, small study published in Experimental Gerontology and funded by the California Table Grape Commission., UCLA researchers sought to examine the potential of grapes, as a whole fruit, in reducing cognitive decline and other effects of aging in 10 participants with mild cognitive decline. Some participants were given a placebo, while the others received a daily serving of grape powder equal to about 2.5 cups of grapes a day for six months. Brain scans to measure cognitive performance were done at baseline and six months after grape consumption.
Eating grapes boosts attention span
The findings revealed those who ingested grape powder maintained healthy levels of metabolic activity, a process for mental processing, in areas of the brain where Alzheimer’s appears first. Those following a grape-enriched diet also showed improved metabolic functioning in areas related to cognition and working memory performance. Meanwhile, participants on the placebo exhibited significant metabolic decline in these critical brain regions.
“The study examines the impact of grapes as a whole fruit versus isolated compounds and the results suggest that regular intake of grapes may provide a protective effect against early decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Daniel H. Silverman, lead investigator of the study.
The researchers believe grapes support brain health by reducing oxidative stress in the brain and promoting healthy cerebral blood flow. Grapes also help maintain healthy levels of a critical chemical that helps support memory, and provides beneficial anti-inflammatory effects as well. However, researchers admit more studies need to be done in human populations to confirm grapes’ protective effects on the brain.
“This pilot study contributes to the growing evidence that supports a beneficial role for grapes in neurologic and cardiovascular health, however more clinical studies with larger groups of subjects are needed to confirm the effects observed here” said Silverman.