Grapes form a delicious part of many people's diets – contributing their unique flavor to the cuisines of a variety of cultures.
Grapes grow in clusters of woody vines in various parts of the world and despite a whopping 71 percent of all grapes grown being used to make wine, grapes are widely utilized for a large variety of purposes in and outside of the kitchen.
The different varieties of grape that exist have been selectively bred for specific purposes. The largest distinguishing factor among varieties is whether they are intended for use in wine or as standalone food items. Wine grapes have thick, aromatic skins, but table grapes are large, thin-skinned and often seedless.
Regardless of the type of grape in question, these fruits form a much more important part of our lives and diets than you might currently realize. Read on to learn more about their many benefits.
Grapes are a universal fruit – you can find them anywhere and in any shape. Rich in vitamins A, B6, C and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, selenium, calcium, phosphorus and iron, grapes are a downright energy powerhouse and a magnificent base for any healthy diet and balanced nutrition. On top of the great amount of nutrients hidden inside lies a very important aspect of the fruit – with a mass composed of 81% water, a portion of grapes can make up for as much as an entire glass of water: a great method of hitting your daily liquid quota too.
The most important health-related aspect of grapes is the presence of flavonoids in their composition. Flavonoids are very powerful antioxidants, which are known to reduce and halt the damage caused by free radicals or non-radicals. That makes up for a solid amount of protection against aging, fatigue, cellular damage, macular degeneration and a great amount of diseases and ailments.
What can grapes do for you to stay healthy & fit
The list of heal benefits that we can draw from grapes can extend a great amount, mostly thanks to the extremely large amounts of nutrients that can be found in them. Being one of the richest fruits in favorable substances, they can lend a helping hand in a vast number of health concerns. There are four core aspects of grapes that all of their health benefits come from.
- They contain phytonutrients – heavily believed to play a role in longevity;
- They qualify as a low glycemic index food – making for a great balance of blood sugar and weight loss diets;
- They contain a vast amount of vitamins and minerals;
- They are rich in antioxidants – thus complimenting the body’s ability to combat various diseases and cellular damage.
All of the above taken into consideration, there is an extensive list of health benefits that specialists have found regarding grapes and their ability to find their way into.
- Heart Disease Prevention & Cardiovascular Benefits
Thanks to the antioxidants present in grapes, this type of fruit has a great effect on the way the chemicals in our body react. The human body is able to produce a number of anti-oxidants meant to combat the effect of free radicals at a cellular level. However, due to a series of circumstances, the human body may require a boost of antioxidants to maintain the protection up and solid.
Grapes also help increase the level of nitric oxide in the blood which helps with thinning and preventing blood clots – a considerable benefit for individuals prone to heart attacks. Its antioxidant effect kicks in in this respect too, preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol – thus preventing it from depositing onto arteries.
Lastly, as worthwhile mentioning as the previous points, grapes provide with a better inflammatory regulation in the blood and an increased level of glutathione.
- Digestive tract activity
There is more than a good reason grapes are included in a great amount of weight loss diets. Besides their extremely low calorie intake, grapes help with ensuring a healthy digestion of food as well as assisting in overcoming both dyspepsia (indigestion) and constipation. They are not only known as a gastric “bandage” thanks to their ability to relieve irritation of the stomach but because of the organic acid and cellulose they contain, they can have a laxative effect too.
One reason grapes have a strong laxative effect is the large amount of insoluble fiber, which allows a healthy creation of stool, as well as gathering up particles that may otherwise remain stuck in the digestive tract for a longer amount of time.
- Cholesterol & Diabetes
Grapes are known to play a great role in combatting blood cholesterol and being a good candidate in managing diabetes. Because they contain a substance called pterostibene, grapes actually help keep your cholesterol levels in check as well as prevent the intake of cholesterol into the blood. It is healthy to consume grapes along with their skin because it contains saponins which do not allow cholesterol to be absorbed into the blood completely.
Furthermore, grape skin extracts are proven to have a calming effect in cases of hyperglycemia – thus helping individuals who suffer from diabetes.
- Kidneys & Eyes
Grapes play a large role in preventing and lessening kidney disorders by reducing the effect of uric acid – as well as helping eliminate it from the system. Thanks to the high amount of water that they contain, they encourage the system to clean up toxins easily and more often.
They are also known to help with macular degeneration: as individuals advance in age, vision diminishes in quality; because of the antioxidants present in them, grapes can reduce the damage that occurs at cellular level which in turn causes loss of vision. As well as this level of prevention, grapes can help preventing cataracts thanks to the flavonoids present in their composition.
- Brain-related disease
Because they contain resveratrol, there is a degree of brain activity enhancement that can take place in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, slowing down the degeneration inherent with the condition. While they cannot, under any circumstance, repair any of the damage done at a given moment, their specialty lies in slowing down the advancement of Alzheimer.
- Various cancer prevention
Debated in recent specialist studies, it has been discovered that certain substances contained in grapes can help prevent breast and colon cancer. The same resveratrol substance is the one at work here – by preventing the growth and spread of cancerous agents. It has been proven that grapes can inhibit one of the largest factor that determines breast cancer to develop: the transformation of androgen into estrogen – agreed upon to be one of the main causes of breast tumors in females.
- Immune system
Because of the great amount of minerals and vitamins contained in grapes, they can play a huge role in boosting one’s immune system. A great source of vitamin C and more, grapes play the graceful role of helping your body help itself. While it was agreed that vitamin C cannot cure colds but instead strengthens the system into defeating the inflammations and viruses that make us ill, a regular consumption of grapes and other similar fruits and vegetables such as berries, citrus fruit, grape tomatoes and many more will improve your own body’s ability to defend itself from many other ailments.
- Energy levels & other life improvements
Last but not least, grapes can have a staggering effect on improving the overall quality of life. They are not only a extensive low-fat source of energy helping with weakened or anemic systems thanks to the great amount of minerals they offer, but they can also help with other conditions that may prevent a good functioning in your day-to-day life. Known to alleviate fatigue and diminish the number of migraine occurrences, grapes and grape juice can make for a great day starter.
How to Include Grapes in Your Diet
Just like any other fruit or vegetable, consuming them the way they are with zero alteration to their state is advisable. But processed grapes and grape products such as grape seed oil and wine maintain a fair amount of their health benefits too. Specialists and nutritionists advise individuals to adopt grapes in their diet by eating at least 3-4 servings a week, and the reasons behind it are plentiful.
- Raw & natural: by far the simplest way to eat them, raw is also the most effective and healthy way. Not only that they maintain all their nutritive attributes but the dietary fiber contain within remains unharmed and unaltered. A serving of grapes consists in 1 ½ cups of seedless grapes for adults and 1 cup for children.
- “Cooked” or made into various desserts: ranging from frozen grapes to cakes, concord grape ice cream, peanut butter and grape muffins or cranberry concord grape sauce tarts, the very texture of this fruit makes them a great candidate for all sorts of desserts that can satisfy even the sweetest tooth without the need of extra sugar or risking weight gain.
- Dry grapes: more commonly known as a type raisins, edible as whole dried raisins, added to various desserts or with cereal.
- Grape juice: squeezed and adorned with whole grapes, this beverage spells nutritive value, bottoms up.
- Grape seed oil: pressed from the seeds of grapes and easy to purchase at most supermarkets, this variants makes for an excellent light dressing for salads and non-fried food. It is medically advised however to not use grape seed oil for high-temperature cooking as it gains extremely high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the process, making it rather dangerous.
- Grape seed extract: normally found in the form of supplements meant to compress the entire spectrum of health benefits of grapes into capsules that go well along with a balanced diet.
- Grape leaves: most commonly found in numerous European and Asian cuisines, they can be cooked and consumed into a number of nutritional dishes.
- Wine: one of the most if not the most popular derivate of grapes, wine comes with numerous health benefits as well, when consumed in low amounts.
- Vinegar: a great and healthy seasoning for a number of foods.
Clara was born and grew up in Great Britain, and although she’s now happier with the weather in North Carolina where she resides with her partner, she does miss the ubiquitous teacakes. She graduated from a master’s in literature and worked for about 5 years at local news magazines as a reporter.