Increasing scientific evidence on the healthful properties of antioxidants found in fresh grapes is contributing to greater consumer awareness about the health potential for fresh grapes.

As part of a recent national omnibus study, consumers were asked whether they knew that fresh grapes contain antioxidants linked to fighting diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Nearly 58 percent of those polled said “yes.” That's up from the 27 percent who agreed with the statement during a similar poll conducted in 1997.

“We're pleased that people are getting the message about grapes and health,” said Jim Howard, vice president of the California Table Grape Commission, which sponsored both the 2004 and 1997 polls. “This research focus is full of promise and one that merits our continued support.” Since 1997 the commission has funded 22 research studies examining the links between eating fresh California grapes and improved health.

Several of the phytonutrients found in fresh grapes, such as anthocyanins, catechins and quercetin have captured the interest of scientists worldwide, but none more than a compound called resveratrol, found primarily in the skins of grapes.