Making kiddush with grape juice could help stop heart attacks, reduce stress, reverse aging and improve driving skills, according to a team of scientific researchers.
Experts at Leeds University are due to begin tests into the health benefits associated with regular consumption of the fruit juice, drunk each week by many Jews as an alternative to red wine for Shabbat and other Jewish ceremonies.
The researchers, at the university's Human Appetite Research Unit, are to conduct some of the first clinical trials on humans, looking at antioxidants found in the juice. Preliminary research on animals has shown they lower blood pressure but the team believe there are many more benefits and will ask 25 participants to drink one large cup of grape juice a day for two sets of 12 weeks. They will then test them driving a Jaguar car hooked up to the university's £4m driving simulator as part of controlled computer tests.
Louise Dye, professor of nutrition and behaviour at the unit, said: "What we know about grape juice is that it's a very good source of compounds called polyphenols. We think they improve cerebral blood flow to the brain. There have already been studies suggesting they can improve cognitive function of older people, and in animal studies polyphenols found in blueberries seem to negate the affects of aging. We are testing whether regular consumption of grape juice leads to cognitive benefits such as multitasking, managing a home and reducing stress.
"It could be something that Jewish people have been benefiting from for some time, which is now being looked at by researchers," she added.
Professor Dye said she was particularly seeking Leeds mothers of pre-teen children, aged between 40 and 50, to take part in the study, because their hectic lifestyle would best demonstrate improvements in multitasking and stress levels.