Loaded with antioxidants, fruit juices keep your heart healthy, strengthen your immune system and protect against oxidative stress. Some varieties, such as grape juice and cranberry juice, are particularly beneficial due to their high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids. These healthful beverages not only quench your thirst but also boost brainpower, enhance cognition and slow aging. Just remember to enjoy them in moderation, as they pack a lot of sugar.
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Concord grape juice and cranberry juice are chock-full of flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants that benefit your health. These bioactive compounds have been shown to improve cardiovascular function, improve memory and cognition and protect against diabetes.
Grape Juice Supports Cardiovascular Health
Concord grapes are full of nutrition and boast higher antioxidant levels than red or green grapes. Surprisingly, nearly half of their antioxidant capacity is in the skin. Grapes, in general, provide large doses of flavonoids, polyphenols, anthocyanins and other bioactive compounds with beneficial properties.
According to a July 2017 review published in Food Science and Biotechnology, whole grape juice is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants with radical-scavenging, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects. Its nutritional value and antioxidant content depend largely on the juicing method used. Researchers recommend using a low-speed masticating juicer in order to preserve these nutrients.
The flavonoids in Concord grape juice benefit your brain, heart and immune system. These plant compounds may lower your risk of cardiac events, reduce inflammation and protect against stroke, as reported in a February 2012 cohort study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Scientists have found an inverse association between flavonoid-rich foods and beverages and cardiovascular problems. For example, the risk of fatal heart disease was 18 percent lower in subjects with the highest flavonoid intake. Men who consumed these nutrients regularly over a seven-year period had a reduced risk of fatal stroke.
Concord grape juice, or purple grape juice, boasts large doses of flavonoids and can help improve your antioxidant status. It's also a good source of anthocyanins, which have been shown to reduce total cholesterol, blood glucose levels and blood pressure. These compounds may protect against insulin resistance and cardiometabolic disorders.
Keep Your Brain Sharp
Both grape juice and cranberry juice can boost brainpower and mental health. These benefits are largely due to their high antioxidant levels.
A 16-week study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in April 2012 has linked the consumption of flavonoids and other phenolic compounds in berries and Concord grape juice to improved cognition and neuronal function. The study was conducted on older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Those who consumed this beverage experienced a greater activation of the brain areas associated with memory and cognition compared to the placebo group.
Another study, which was conducted on 215 participants and published in the Journals of Gerontology in July 2018, reported similar findings. The polyphenols in grapes and blueberries have been shown to improve age-related episodic memory decline in elderly subjects.
Berries, including cranberries, have been studied for their beneficial effects on the brain. These tiny fruits are rich in anthocyanidins and other flavonoids that may enhance cognition and protect against neurodegenerative diseases. A diet rich in flavonoids can improve your memory and attention, keeping your brain sharp until late in life.
Cranberry Juice Benefits Your Heart
Choosing the best fruit juice isn't easy. Both cranberry juice and purple grape juice promote mental and physical health. As mentioned earlier, Concord grape juice supports cardiovascular function and may lower your risk of heart disease. According to a July 2016 review featured in Advances in Nutrition, cranberries have similar benefits.
In one study, LDL cholesterol levels decreased and HDL cholesterol increased in subjects who consumed low-calorie cranberry juice. HDL is the "good" cholesterol that supports cardiovascular health. LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, clogs your arteries and contributes to cardiac events. Other studies cited in the above review have found that cranberries and their juice may lower triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure and increase glucose uptake in insulin-sensitive tissues.
Furthermore, the polyphenols in these berries may suppress glucose absorption and carbohydrate digestion, leading to a lower risk of diabetes and metabolic disorders. At the same time, they may improve glycemic control in individuals with type II diabetes.
Cranberry Juice and UTIs
Cranberry juice is best known for its ability to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), which affect 50 to 60 percent of women, as reported in a June 2013 review in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal. They're usually caused by Escherichia coli and may cause serious complications if left unaddressed.
Read more: How to Find the Best Cranberry Juice Brands
As the review authors point out, cranberry juice may not be as effective against UTIs as it was once thought. Clinical evidence is conflicting, though.
A research paper published in the journal Clinics in June 2012 suggests that cranberry products, such as cranberry juice and dietary supplements, may help prevent — but not treat — urinary tract infections. Some studies suggest that drinking 240 to 300 milliliters of cranberry juice every day may prevent recurring UTIs in half of the cases.
Researchers state that cranberries may cause adverse reactions, from nausea and elevated blood sugar to acid reflux. Additionally, these fruits may interact with warfarin.
The review featured in Advances in Nutrition revealed some interesting findings. It appears that carbonated soft drinks increase the risk of UTIs, while cranberry juice protects the urinary tract. Another research article, which was published in Plos One in August 2018, found that propolis enhances the effects of cranberry against E. coli, the bacterium responsible for a large majority of UTIs.
If you suspect you have a UTI, consult with your doctor to get the needed treatments. If you suffer from chronic UTIs, your doctor may also be able to provide some insight as to whether you would benefit from adding cranberry juice to your diet as a preventive measure.
Fruit Juices and Your Weight
Both cranberry and Concord grape juice benefit your health when consumed in moderation. These beverages are a better choice than soda, but they still contain quite a lot of sugar.
A single serving (half a cup) of grape juice provides 76 calories and 18.6 grams of carbs, including 17.9 grams of sugar. The same amount of cranberry juice contains 15.3 grams of sugar. If you drink two cups of grape juice, that's an extra 71.6 grams of sugar.
The natural sugars in fruit juice have the same impact on your health — and your waistline — as refined sugar. Consume these beverages in moderation to maintain your figure and prevent weight gain.
From a nutritional standpoint, fruit juice has a similar sugar content and caloric value to soda. The sugars in fruits are no different than those in soft drinks, according to a review posted in Pediatrics in April 2017. Additionally, liquids are less satiating than solid foods.
The primary difference between fruit juices and soft drinks lies in their nutritional value. Fresh fruit juice is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Soda, on the other hand, contains mostly sugar and potentially harmful chemicals. However, both types of beverages can lead to weight gain when consumed in excess.
Read more: The Top 10 Beverages to Avoid
Whether you prefer grape juice or cranberry juice, enjoy it as part of a balanced diet. For example, if you can drink a glass of fruit juice in the morning if you're too busy to make breakfast. Or you can sip on fruit juices before hitting the gym to get the energy needed for a challenging workout.
- MDPI: "A Comparison of Total Antioxidant Capacities of Concord, Purple, Red, and Green Grapes Using the CUPRAC Assay"
- USDA: "Grape Juice, Canned or Bottled, Unsweetened, Without Added Ascorbic Acid"
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Concord Grape Juice Supplementation and Neurocognitive Function in Human Aging"
- The Journals of Gerontology: "Polyphenols From Grape and Blueberry Improve Episodic Memory in Healthy Elderly With Lower Level of Memory Performance: A Bicentric Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study"
- MDPI: "A Review of the Cognitive Effects Observed in Humans Following Acute Supplementation With Flavonoids, and Their Associated Mechanisms of Action"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Impact of Cranberries on Gut Microbiota and Cardiometabolic Health: Proceedings of the Cranberry Health Research Conference 2015"
- CDC.gov: "LDL and HDL Cholesterol: "Bad" and "Good" Cholesterol"
- NCBI: "Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections Management in Women"
- NCBI: "Cranberries and Lower Urinary Tract Infection Prevention"
- Plos One: "Propolis Potentiates the Effect of Cranberry (Vaccinium Macrocarpon) in Reducing the Motility and the Biofilm Formation of Uropathogenic Escherichia Coli"
- USDA: "Cranberry Juice, Unsweetened"
- JAMA Network: "Are Fruit Juices Just as Unhealthy as Sugar-Sweetened Beverages?"
- Pediatrics: "Fruit Juice and Change in BMI: A Meta-Analysis"
- The Lancelet: "Fruit Juice: Just Another Sugary Drink?"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Flavonoid Intake and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Effects of Anthocyanins on Cardiometabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials"