Posts Tagged “grapes”

New Study: “Remarkable” Impacts of Eating Grapes on Health and Lifespans

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Research finds that eating grapes regularly leads to unique gene expression patterns, reduces fatty liver, and extends the lifespan of mice consuming a high-fat western-style diet.

In comprehensive studies published recently in the journal Foods, it was reported that the long-term addition of grapes to the diet of mice leads to unique gene expression patterns, reduces fatty liver, and extends the lifespan of animals consuming a high-fat western style diet. The research team was led by Dr. John Pezzuto of Western New England University.

Pezzuto, who is an author of over 600 papers in the scientific literature, said he was especially amazed by these results. “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.”

What is the effect of this alteration of gene expression? As shown in this paper, fatty liver is prevented or delayed. Fatty liver is a condition that affects around 25% of the world’s population and can eventually lead to untoward effects, including liver cancer. The genes responsible for the development of fatty liver were altered in a beneficial way by consuming grapes. In ancillary work, not only is the expression of genes altered, but metabolism is also changed by dietary grapes. This study was recently published by a collaborative team led by Dr. Jeffrey Idle in the journal Food & Function.

Studies of grapes add an entirely new dimension to the saying ‘you are what you eat.’

In addition to genes related to fatty liver, the work found that the grape-supplemented diets increased levels of antioxidant genes. According to 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.”

Another remarkable effect demonstrated in this research was the ability of grapes to extend the lifespan of mice given a high-fat western pattern diet. The high-fat western pattern diet is known to be associated with adverse conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Adding grapes to the diet, which did not affect the rate of consumption or body weight, delayed natural death. Although translating years of lifespan from a mouse to a human is not an exact science, Pezzuto notes that his best estimate is the change observed in the study would correspond to an additional 4-5 years in the life of a human.

Precisely how all of this relates to humans remains to be seen, but it is clear that adding grapes to the diet changes gene expression in more than just the liver. In studies recently published in the journal Antioxidants by Pezzuto and his team of researchers, it was found that grape consumption alters gene expression in the brain. At the same time, grape consumption had positive effects on behavior and cognition that were impaired by a high-fat diet, suggesting that the alteration of gene expression was what produced this beneficial response. More studies are needed, but it is notable that a team led by Silverman at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reported that the daily administration of grapes had a protective effect on brain metabolism. This new research indicates that this is due to alteration of gene expression.


“Consumption of Grapes Modulates Gene Expression, Reduces Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and Extends Longevity in Female C57BL/6J Mice Provided with a High-Fat Western-Pattern Diet” by Asim Dave, Eun-Jung Park, Avinash Kumar, Falguni Parande, Diren Beyoğlu, Jeffrey R. Idle and John M. Pezzuto, 5 July 2022, Foods.
DOI: 10.3390/foods11131984

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Study: Grape Consumption Benefits Gut Microbiome and Cholesterol Metabolism

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By The California Table Grape Commission

Fresno, CA – A new clinical study published in the scientific journal Nutrients found that consuming grapes significantly increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut which is considered essential to good health overall.  Additionally, consuming grapes significantly decreased cholesterol levels, as well as bile acids which play an integral role in cholesterol metabolism.  The findings suggest a promising new role for grapes in gut health and reinforce the benefits of grapes on heart health.

In the intervention study[1], conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, and led by principal investigator Zhaoping Li, M.D., Ph.D., healthy subjects consumed the equivalent of 1.5 cups of grapes[2] per day – for four weeks.  The subjects consumed a low fiber/low polyphenol diet throughout the study.  After four weeks of grape consumption there was an increase in microbial diversity as measured by the Shannon index, a commonly used tool for measuring diversity of species.  Among the beneficial bacteria that increased was Akkermansia, a bacteria of keen interest for its beneficial effect on glucose and lipid metabolism, as well as on the integrity of the intestinal lining.  Additionally, a decrease in blood cholesterols was observed including total cholesterol by 6.1% and LDL cholesterol by 5.9%.  Bile acids, which are linked to cholesterol metabolism, were decreased by 40.9%. 

“We found that grapes have a beneficial effect on gut bacteria, which is great news, since a healthy gut is critical to good health,” said Dr. Li.  “This study deepens our knowledge and expands the range of health benefits for grapes, even as the study reinforces the heart health benefits of grapes with lowered cholesterol.”

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Grapes Can Lower Risk of Infection, Study Suggests

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DSCN2927+1A USDA study has revealed that eating grapes could help obese people decrease certain types of fats in their blood that are linked to heart disease and lower their risk of infection.

Susan Zunino, a molecular biologist with the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC) in Davis, California, studies phytochemicals—natural compounds found in fruits such as grapes and strawberries. Her recent work suggests that phytochemicals from grapes may have a positive effect on the immune system of obese individuals.
Hospital and clinic documentation of viral and bacterial infection has shown that obese people are at a much higher risk for developing infections after surgery, according to Zunino. About 35 percent of Americans are obese, which puts them at a higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and bacterial and viral infections.
In the study, obese participants drank either a mixture of water and grape powder made from freeze-dried table grapes or a placebo twice a day for three weeks. The two groups switched to the opposite mixture for the next three weeks.
Blood samples were analyzed to measure the effects of grapes on blood lipids (fats), blood markers of inflammation and cells of the immune system during the study. Compared with the placebo group, the grape powder group had reduced plasma concentrations of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad” cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease.
When scientists stimulated immune cells from blood with a bacterial component, they found an increase in the production of proteins—cytokines—that are instrumental in fighting off infections. In previous research, Zunino discovered that one of the same cytokine proteins was produced when obese individuals consumed strawberry powder.
However, obesity leads to more inflammation in the body, according to Zunino. Therefore, more studies are needed to find out if the increase in cytokine production, after grapes and strawberries are eaten, contributes to more inflammation or is beneficial in reducing infections.

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Study Cites Grapes as Good for Eyes, Reducing Risk of Blindness

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Eating grapes is good for the eyes and could reduce the risk of going blind later in life, according to new researcDSCN4876h.

The fruit protects against a chemical process known as oxidative stress, which releases harmful molecules called free radicals into the retina.  Grapes are rich in antioxidants that protect healthy cells from DNA damage and it is believed these compounds are behind the eyesight benefits.

The retina is the part of the eye that contains cells that respond to light, known as photoreceptors. Degenerative diseases of the retina can cause blindness.
“Adding grapes to the diet actually preserved retinal health in the presence of oxidative stress in this study,” says Professor Abigail Hackam, of the University of Miami in the U.S., which carried out the research.
Elevated oxidative stress is strongly associated with retinal disease and has been widely studied in the development of age-related macular degeneration and other eye conditions.
During the research, mice were fed either freeze-dried whole grape powder – the equivalent of about three servings a day for humans – a diet with the same level of sugar, or a standard research control diet.  The results showed that both retinal structure and function were preserved in the group eating the grape-enriched diet.
Mice in this group maintained their retinal thickness, the quantity of photoreceptors and the amount of photoreceptor activity, despite high oxidative stress. In the non-grape eaters, retinas were damaged, displaying holes and lesions, and there was a significant decrease in thickness.
There was also a 40 per cent reduction in photoreceptors and significant loss of photoreceptor activity.
Previous research by scientists at the University of Glasgow found that the antioxidant benefits of drinking purple grape juice could also reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Another study, by scientists at Washington State University, found that eating grapes can help prevent weight gain.
They contain a compound called resveratrol – also found in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and apples – that converts bad, white fat in the body into good ‘beige fat’, which burns up calories.

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Eye Health May Benefit from Grape Consumption

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DSCN7166Eating grapes may help protect eye health, according to new research published in the journal Nutrition.

The laboratory study was conducted at the University of Miami, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and showed that a grape‐enriched diet preserved the retina’s structure and function against damaging oxidative stress.

 Natural components in grapes that help promote antioxidant activity are thought to contribute to these beneficial effects. The retina is the part of the eye that contains the cells that respond to light, known as photoreceptors.  Degeneration of the retina causes progressive photoreceptor death and irreversible vision impairment, including blindness, affecting millions of people in the U.S.  Oxidative stress is strongly associated with retinal disease.
Study results showed that the group consuming the grape‐enriched diet maintained retinal thickness, the quantity of photoreceptors, and the amount of photoreceptor activity, despite the oxidative stress insult. Conversely, in the non‐grape consuming group, retinas were damaged, displaying holes and lesions, and with a significant decrease in thickness. Additionally there was a 40% reduction in photoreceptors and significant loss of photoreceptor activity.
“Adding grapes to the diet actually preserved retinal health in the presence of oxidative stress in this study,” said Dr. Abigail Hackam, lead investigator of the study.  “These results are very exciting and build on the growing evidence that suggests a very real benefit for grape consumption and eye health.”

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Study Finds Grapes Aid Glucose Tolerance

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DSCN4876Consumption of grapes helped glucose metabolism in an animal model of prediabetes, according to preliminary findings in a study by Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

The results were presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in Boston earlier this spring, according to a news release.

Lead investigator Andrew Neilson and his fellow researchers looked at the impact of grapes on blood glucose when the activities of glucagon-like-peptide, or GLP-1, a hormone type known to improve insulin response after meals, is impaired.

A reduced insulin response is partly responsible for high blood sugar levels. Prediabetes is defined as impaired glucose tolerance and other symptoms approaching clinically diagnosed diabetes. An estimated 35% of U.S. adults are prediabetic.

In the study, the group that was administered freeze-dried whole grape powder was able to keep blood glucose levels stable, and counteract the negative effect of the inhibited activities of GLP-1. In the group that did not receive grapes, blood glucose levels rose when GLP-1 activities were impaired.

“These findings demonstrate the potential for grapes to help prevent impaired glucose tolerance in a prediabetic population,” Neilson said in the release. “This could have important implications for public health, in which the incidence of prediabetes is on the rise, and more study in this area is needed.”

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San Joaquin Valley Fruit is Starting Soon; Some Calif. Rates Hit $9,500

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DSCN0145Two major California summer produce items are expected to get underway the week of June 24th, with volume shipments really increasing entering July.

Meanwhile, $9,000 gross freight rates from Salinas to the East Coast are becoming relatively common.

Cantaloupe shipments from the West Side of California’s San Joaquin Valley are  expected to get underway next week, as loadings will continue into October.

Overall acreage is down about 5 to 10 percent on cantaloupes from a year ago.  Whether that translates to yields and an reduction in loads remains to be seen.

Cantaloupe shipments start each season from Huron in the southern part of the valley and gradually moves northward into the Firebaugh district, before coming out of the Los Banos area.  The end of the season has cantouples originating from fields in the northern area of Crow’s Landing.

Besides cantaloupe, other melons will be available for hauls ranging from honeydews, to Cranshaws, Casabas, Persians, Canaries, Orange Flesh, Santa Claus, Galias and Hamis.

Shipments of these items should get underway by July 1st.

Record Grapes Shipments?

Southern San Joaquin Valley table grapes from the Arvin district near Bakersfield will start shipping a little early this year (last week of June).  Combine this with Sonara Mexican grapes crossing the border at Nogales, AZ and Coachella Valley grapes in the California desert running a little late – and there could be a glut of fruit needing to be shipped just prior to the Fouth of July holidays.

A number of grape shippers will be going entering the shipping arena the week of June 24th.

The April preliminary estimate this year is 106.9 million 19-pound boxes of grapes . If  this holds, it will top last year’s record volume of about 101 million boxes.

More than half of that volume will be harvested and shipped after Sept. 1.

If the estimate holds it would result in record California grape shipments  for the second year in a row.

Coachella Valley grapes – grossing about $6700 to Atlanta.

Salinas Valley veggies, berries – grossing mostly around $8000, with some as high as $9500 to Boston; $6,000 to Chicago.

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Produce Hauling from the Salinas Valley, San Joaquin Valley

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Between now and August produce truckers will have the upper hand when it comes to freight rates – assuming you don’t have contract rates (but that’s another story).

Not only are we nearing the peak shipping season from California, which accounts for about half of the nation’s fresh produce, but other areas, particularly in the upper mid-west and east are providing competition for trucks.

Caution Hauling Desert Items

Before I get into the Salinas and San Joaquin Valley shipments, use caution loading desert vegetables such as bell peppers and corn as temperatures well above 100 degrees have been occurring.  It’s been really hot in the Coachella and Imperial valleys, as well as Arizona’s Yuma district.  Little or no report of heat damage has yet been reported but keep your eyes peeled for scalding and other heat symptoms in the days ahead.  Even watermelons can suffer if prolonged heat occurs.

Salinas Valley

Dozens of different kinds of vegetables are being shipped from the Salinas area.  But the big volume items are various types of lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower.  There also is decent volume with brussel sprouts and celery.  Nearby Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world, while nearby Watsonville is ground zero for strawberry shipments.

San Joaquin Valley

This report will focus primarily on summer from from the SJV.  We’ll soon cover the many vegetables coming into volume.

Stone fruit, led by peaches, plums and nectarines, are just getting underway from the southern part of the valley.

The consensus appear to be that around 40 to 43 million boxes of stone fruit will be shipped this year from the San Joaquin Valley, which would be pretty average when looking at the volume for the past five years.

California cherry shipments are building and hitting good volume just prior to the Memorial weekend (May 25-27).  However, winds damaged 40 to 50% of the early variety Rainier cherries around Bakersfield on May 5th.

There also was some wind damage to almond trees in the Bakersfield area.

Last year, California shipped a record 101.5 milion boxes of grapes.  The Coachella Valley, which is shipping now, accounts for 10 percent or less of this volume.  The rest comes from the San Joaquin Valley, starting with the Arvin District in late June.

Apple shipments, which took at 30 percent hit last year, are expected to return to normal this year.  Beginning in July, California apple shipments get underway, but this is minor (2 million boxes) compared to Washington state  (129 million boxes predicted).

Kern District

Located near Bakersfield, Kern County ships a lot carrots and potatoes, althouigh this time of the year you will get a better freight rate hauling more perishable items ranging from lettuce to stone fruit, grapes and berries.

Kern County potatoes shipments started about a week ago.  Due to so much over production of russet potatoes around the country, this variety has been reduced by up to 75 percent.  Russets have been replaced primarily with red, yellow and white potatoes.

When Kern County growers are not planting carrots or potatoes in their fields, they use bell peppers as a rotation crop.  Bell peppers loadings are just starting and building in volume, continuing until November.

Salinas vegetables – grossing about $5200 to Chicago.

California desert vegetables – about $7300 to New York City.


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From Strawberries to Grapes, Things are Changing at Your Favorite Store

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In case you haven’t noticed strawberries in retail supermarket are costing about 30 percent more, or about a dollar more per 16 ounce claimshell package, than only a few weeks ago.  After a summer of plentiful supplies, this is the time of year when strawberry production is in a transition from the bountiful fields at Watsonville, CA to areas further south, such as Ventura and Orange counties, as well as in Mexico.  It will be the first of the year before supplies increase, and perhaps some break in what you are paying in the stores.

Long gone are days of 99-cent-per-pound apples.  Yet, this fruit is one of the better buys in produce departments.  Despite a freeze wiping out the vast majority of apples in Michigan last spring, plus cold weather hitting New York apples hard, the nation should have nine percent more apples than a year ago – thanks to a humongous crop in Washington state.  Still it depends on the variety, what you will pay.  For example, two of my favorites, the Gala and the fuji apples are selling at my store for $1.77 per pound.  However, another favorite of mine, the Ambrosia apples, costs about 50 percent more.

Table grapes have been another wonderful eating experience this year.  California’s crop has been so sweet and cruncy I sure hate to see the season end.  I’m noticing the late season grapes from California are not quit as good as the super tasting product that has been available for month.  Grapes also have been one of the best buys in the produce department.  The California product will soon be replaced by grapes from Chile.  We can only hope Chile has as good a crop.

Other good buys in the produce department continue to be bananas and kiwifruit.


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Potato Loads, Georgia Veggies and Imported Grapes

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USA potato loads will be up eight percent over a year ago when this season ends around August.  The 991,500 acres of spuds is six percent more than athe previous season.  Of course, Idaho shipments easily lead all other states, but there are significant loadings available in Washington state, Oregon, Wisconsin, the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota, among others.

Idaho is shipping about 1750 truckload equivalents of potatoes per week, although a greater percentage is shipped by rail than most other spud production areas….By contrast, Colorado’s San Luis Valley is moving about 1000 loads per week, all by truck.

Southeastern Greens

Central and southern areas of Georgia are loading  collards, kale, mustard and turnip tops for the holidays.  Loads of greens should continue from Georgia into March or April, depending on the weather.  Broccoli also is being shipped.

Chilean Imported Grapes

While Chilean grapes are starting to  arrive in the USA anytime now, it will be late January before good volume and loading opportunities are available at USA ports.   Grapes arriving at such ports as Wilmington, NC; Philadelphia, and Long Beach, CA are shipped throughout the states and into Canada, with volume expected to top last year.

Georgia vegetables – grossing about $2800 to Boston.

Idaho potatoes – about $5400 to New York

Colorado potatoes – about $2000 to San Antonio.


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