Health-conscious Brits could be swapping their red wine for purple grape juice after the healthy drink topped a major new antioxidant study.
Scientists at The University of Glasgow tested a series of juices to measure their levels of antioxidants – natural plant compounds, which counter the impact of disease and ageing. The tests proved that dark fruit juices are the best source of antioxidants.
Concord purple grape juice has the highest content of polyphenols, a particularly potent antioxidant group.
The study, published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, found that levels of polyphenols vary widely in different drinks, with darker juices tending to contain higher levels.
Juice from Concord (corr - a variety not a brand) purple grapes – which are large grapes native to North America – scored highest, with cloudy apple juice and cranberry juice drink also testing well.
The university's findings also revealed the number and level of antioxidant compounds in Concord purple grape juice is the same as those found in a Beaujolais red wine.
Researchers found that it may not just be the number, but also the variety of antioxidants contained in a juice that determine its potential health benefits.
University of Glasgow Professor Alan Crozier, who led the study, said: ''Previous research has shown that the antioxidant action of polyphenols contained in drinks like red wine and tea may help to protect against chronic diseases, by mopping up free radicals, which can cause damage to cells.
''Yet the research highlights that not all drinks are created equal when it comes to polyphenols. 'It's therefore important to consider the individual type of the compounds that you are consuming, because each has different health benefits.''
Leading nutritionist Nigel Denby said that to get the most potential health benefits from polyphenols people should aim to get a broad "spectrum" of antioxidants in their diet.
Mr Denby said: ''Drinking a combination of Concord purple grape juice with other juices would work particularly well because, unlike white or red grape juice, Concord purple grape juice is a rich source of a variety of polyphenols whereas other juices are high only in specific polyphenols.
''Nutritionists recommend consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables every day to get the antioxidants your body needs, and this can seem like a tall order. 'Using these study findings makes upping your fruit and antioxidant intake easy – just one glass of something like Concord purple grape juice counts as one of your five a day.''
The study tested 13 of the best-selling juices from a Tesco supermarket for their total antioxidant content.
The results, highest first, were as follows:
1. Welch's Purple Grape
2. Copella Cloudy Apple
3. Tropicana Tropical
4. Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Drink
5. Pomegreat Pomegranate Juice Drink
6. Tropicana Orange
7. Own brand Grapefruit
8. Own brand Orange
9. Own brand Red Grape
10. Own brand Pineapple
11. Del Monte Tomato
12. Own brand Clear Apple
13. Own brand White Grape