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In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers evaluated the effects of grape polyphenols in adult men classified with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Participants in this double-blind, crossover study included 24 men aged 30-70 years of age who were randomly assigned to consume either a grape polyphenol product or a placebo for 30 days. There was a 3 week wash-out period between treatments. The men maintained their normal physical activity level and normal diet. They also were told to avoid polyphenol-rich food during the trial period.
At the end of each dietary period, blood pressure was measured and several different tests were used to analyze vascular function. When compared to the placebo period, the grape polyphenol treatment period resulted in lower systolic blood pressure and an increased blood flow in the brachial (arm) arteries. An indicator of blood platelet “stickiness”, known as sICAM-1, was also reduced during the polyphenol treatment period.
The results of this study indicate that grape polyphenols may positively influence vasorelaxation, blood pressure, and lower circulating cell adhesion molecules, improving overall vascular health and function, especially in men with metabolic syndrome.
Barona J, Aristizabal JC, Blesso CN, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Grape polyphenols reduce blood pressure and increase flow-mediated vasodilation in men with metabolic syndrome. J Nutr. 2012;142(9):1626-32.

For those with diabetes, folic acid supplementation may be beneficial in reducing the risk of stroke.


Folic acid is a derivative of folate (an essential B vitamin) and is an essential nutrient which has been linked to numerous health benefits. It is important enough that many governments require grains to be fortified with folate/folic acid to provide their citizens with regular, daily access to this important vitamin.
In countries with low access to folate, research has demonstrated an incredible reduction of incidences of neural tube defects (NTDs) in infants whose mothers had access to folic acid supplementation during pregnancy. Folic acid supplementation has proven to be a safe, inexpensive, and effective way to reduce the risk of NTDs and other birth defects in third-world countries and at-risk populations all around the world.
Folic acid supplementation has also been purported to improve heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) published an article last year exploring the decrease in congenital heart defects associated with folic-acid supplementation and folic-acid-fortified foods. This connection between the B vitamin and heart health suggests that folic acid can work preventatively with regards to stroke and myocardial infarction, otherwise known as heart attack.
Diabetes, which is characterized by high blood glucose concentrations during and after periods of fasting, is a known risk factor for stroke. Researchers at several universities and hospitals in China hypothesized about the link between folic acid supplementation and the first stroke associated with elevated blood glucose levels. They performed a randomized double-blind study over the course of several years.
Participants in this study were men and women between the ages of 45 and 75 with hypertension, who were diagnosed as diabetic (type 2 diabetes mellitus) or normoglycemic prior to the study.
The subjects were provided with either a daily oral dose of 10mg enalapril and 0.8mg folic acid, or 10 mg enalapril only. Follow-up visits for each participant were scheduled every three months for the duration of the study (median duration = 4.5 years).
Results indicate that, for any given glucose category (hypoglycemic, normoglycemic, diabetic), risk of stroke was significantly reduced by folic acid supplementation. Those with fasting glucose blood levels indicating diabetes showed the greatest risk reduction due to folic acid supplementation.
From the results of this study, it can be inferred that folic acid supplementation may be beneficial in reducing the risk of stroke for those with diabetes. Increasing the amount of folic in the diet should be a priority for everyone; however, without regular access to folate-fortified grains, this goal can be hard to achieve. Folic acid supplements can be a great way to regularly meet the daily recommended value of this essential nutrient.
Xu RB, Kong X, Xu BP, et al. Longitudinal association between fasting blood glucose concentrations and first stroke in hypertensive adults in China: effect of folic acid intervention.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017;105(3):564-570. doi:10.3945/ajcn.116.145656. Folic acid fortified food linked to decrease in congenital heart defects.


Nutrient levels account for a 17% variation in memory and thinking ability, and a 37% variation in brain volume in a group of study individuals.
A study published in Neurology has found that certain nutrients work together synergistically to promote brain health. The study looked at the effects of diet and nutrient intake in seniors on memory, thinking and brain volume.
The researchers recruited 104 individuals (average age 87) and measured blood levels of certain nutrients, as well as memory and thinking in all study participants. They also analyzed MRI scans to determine the brain volume of 42 of the subjects.
Participants in the study were healthy non-smokers with relatively few chronic diseases and free of memory and thinking problems. Most had generally healthy diets, but there were some with deficiencies of certain nutrients. This created enough variation to determine that nutrient status does play a significant role in memory, thinking, and brain volume. It was determined that nutrient levels accounted for 17% of the variation found in memory and thinking, and for the 37% of the variation in brain volume.
With this data, the researchers came to three conclusions. The first conclusion is that individuals with diets high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C, D, E, and B were more likely to score better on memory and thinking tests. Those with diets high in trans-fat were more likely to both score poorly on memory and thinking tests, and to have brain shrinkage. Finally, individuals with low omega-3 fatty acid intake and other nutrient intake are more likely to have lower brain volume.
Getting adequate nutrients through a balanced diet and supplements may be an important overall approach to maintaining good brain health and thinking ability as we age.
Bowman GL, Silbert LC, Howieson D, et al. Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function, and MRI measures of brain aging. Neurology. 2012;78(4):241-9.
Compared to placebo, patients taking Vitamin E had slower functional decline and needed less caregiver assistance.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports on the benefit of high dose Vitamin E in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. The double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial involved 613 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease. Participants were randomized to receive 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin E, 20 milligrams of memantine, a combination of both, or a placebo daily. Average follow-up was 2.3 years.
Patients were analyzed on their capability to perform daily living activities, memory and language, cognitive function, behavioral and psychological issues, and the time needing caregiver assistance. The data was measured and collected at the beginning of the study and every six months during the trial.
Over the years of follow-up, scores declined by 3.15 units less in the Vitamin E group compared with the placebo group. In the memantine group, the scores declined 1.98 units less than the decline in the placebo group. Compared to the placebo group, those taking Vitamin E had an average delay in clinical progression of 19% per year, or approximately 6.2 months over the follow-up period.
Patients receiving the vitamin also needed less caregiver assistance in comparison with the placebo group. There was no significant difference in all-cause mortality or safety issues reported between the placebo and Vitamin E groups.
This study showed that high dose Vitamin E appears to slow functional decline and caregiver burden in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease.
Dysken MW, Sano M, Asthana S, et al. Effect of vitamin E and memantine on functional decline in Alzheimer disease: the TEAM-AD VA cooperative randomized trial. JAMA. 2014;311(1):33-44.
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