In the U.S., the humble grape is the third most popular fruit, with California producing almost all the grapes eaten; that’s over 5.75 million tons in 2021.
If some of those grapes end up in your shopping basket, you’re likely making a good dietary choice as scientists keep uncovering more and more health benefits in this fruit. The latest example is groundbreaking: Grapes not only have a positive impact on genes, but they also extend lifespan.
A review of the health benefits of grapes argued that many of the 1,600 compounds in the fruit, such as catechins, anthocyanins, flavonols and stilbenes have established health properties, some of which are known to act in harmony to improve efficacy.
This being the case, “whole-grape products may help in maintaining heart health and protect against aging, aging-associated diseases, neurodegeneration, and some cancers,” the researchers wrote.
Although rodent studies demonstrate these properties and small human trials show improvements in biochemistry that could translate to better health and a longer life, comprehensive studies of grapes in the form of grape powder had never been performed, until now.
We can thank Dr. John Pezzuto of Western New England University for this new research breakthrough. Dr. Pezzuto is listed in the top two percent of scientists in the world by Stanford University. He has authored over 600 papers in the scientific literature and also edited the textbook Grapes and Health published in 2016.
The Western Diet – A Recipe For Poor Health
A key objective of one of Dr. Pezzuto’s research projects was to see whether grapes could offer any safeguard against a high-fat (western-pattern) diet, rich in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates.
This diet causes an overabundance of free radicals (oxidative stress), that’s linked to inflammation and metabolic diseases, adversely affects metabolic pathways in the liver, interferes with a key signaling pathway that regulates a variety of cellular functions, and negatively affects processes involved with the metabolism of hormones and fatty acids. In other words, the western diet makes you grow old before your time and causes everything from wrinkles to chronic, debilitating illnesses.
For the first study, Dr. Pezzuto’s researchers fed six-week-old mice a standard diet and five weeks later categorized them into one of four groups. They kept the first two groups of mice on the standard diet but only supplemented one of those groups with freeze-dried grape powder. They switched the remaining two groups to a high fat diet either with or without grape powder. After thirteen more weeks, nearing the end of the lives of the mice, they analyzed their tissues.
What their study revealed was surprising.
Changes Gene Expression
The mice who ate a high fat diet and supplemented with grape powder for most of their lives experienced unique gene expression patterns.
For example, the grape powder supplement delayed or prevented nonalcoholic fatty liver disease because genes responsible for the development of the disease were altered in a beneficial way. The grape powder also prevented oxidative damage, induced fatty acid metabolism, and increased overall longevity.
In separate research, scientists found that grape powder supplementation also changed gene expression in the brains of mice on a high fat diet. This led to improved cognition and memory.
An amazed Dr. Pezzuto explained, saying, “We have all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’ which is obviously true since we all start out as a fetus and end up being an adult by eating food. But these studies add an entirely new dimension to that old saying. Not only is food converted to our body parts, but as shown by our work with dietary grapes, it actually changes our genetic expression. That is truly remarkable.”
Extends Life Four to Five Years
It was also remarkable, given that a typical western diet is linked to so many life-shortening diseases, that grape powder was able to extend the life of the mice. Dr. Pezzuto said his best estimate is that the change in lifespan observed in the study would correspond to an additional four to five years in the lives of people.
In addition, a further experiment found increased levels of antioxidant genes with grape-supplemented diets. According to Dr. Pezzuto, “Many people think about taking dietary supplements that boast high antioxidant activity. In actual fact, though, you cannot consume enough of an antioxidant to make a big difference.
“But if you change the level of antioxidant gene expression, as we observed with grapes added to the diet, the result is a catalytic response that can make a real difference.”
This news about grapes doesn’t surprise me. These are not the first studies to point to the humble grape’s many health benefits. While I agree that eating the fruit gives you a big health boost, there’s also proven benefit to supplementing with extracts of the grape. For example, resveratrol is the red grape compound shown in clinical studies to support a healthy heart, and grapeseed extract, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, can help your body feel younger.
That’s why our sister company, Green Valley Natural Solutions, combined both of these grape compounds into their leading anti-aging formula, Stem Cell Restore. This revolutionary formula contains ingredients that are proven in human clinical trial to support your body’s own supply of repair stem cells—the cells that work to rejuvenate every other cell in the body to help keep your body functioning more like it did when you were young. You can learn about it here.