Many studies have suggested that moderate red wine consumption is beneficial to cardiovascular health. But what if you'd like to skip the alcohol? Take heart: in a laboratory study, just published in the January 2007 issue of Cardiovascular Research, Concord grape juice worked in a similar fashion to red wine to promote healthy arterial function.

Dr. Valérie Schini-Kerth and a team of researchers of the Université Louis Pasteur de Strasbourg found that Concord purple grapes stimulated the production of nitric oxide in endothelial cells and produced a vasorelaxation effect. It is known that nitric oxide is important in the body's natural system for maintaining healthy, flexible blood vessels and helps support healthy blood pressure. The findings in this study are particularly noteworthy because the beneficial effects of Concord grape juice were observed in arteries of the heart.

Researchers further discovered that Concord purple grape juice - available as Welch's Purple Grape Juice in the UK - produced this relaxation effect by stimulating the same chemical reactions in the arteries that are activated by red wine - showing that it's the components of the grape, rather than alcohol, that produces this beneficial effect for the heart.

This study supports other preliminary research in which Concord grape juice had a blood pressure-lowering effect as it provides a possible mechanism for the effect. So, for those looking for an alternative to red wine, grape juice made from Concord grapes provides a delicious, family-friendly, heart-healthy alternative.

"Grapenext term juice causes endothelium-dependent relaxation via a redox-sensitive Src- and Akt-dependent activation of eNOS"
Eric Anselm, Marta Chataigneaua, Mamadou Ndiaye, Thierry Chataigneaua, Valérie B. Schini-Kertha
Cardiovascular Research
Volume 73, Issue 2 , 15 January 2007, Pages 404-413
Click here to view abstract online