There’s no doubt that grapes are one of the most served fruits in different places around the globe, including home kitchens, restaurants, hospitals, and even in the buffet preparations of ancient royalties thousands of years ago. With their deliciously sweet and tarty taste, grapes became a favorite in-between-meal snack and beloved feature to both vegetable and fruit salads, earning the title “Queen of Fruits” since the early civilizations. But, the best part of eating these tiny round jewels are the numerous body-supportive phytonutrients that can improve your overall wellness. Continue reading to learn about what are the health benefits of grapes.
Grapes own a delectable juicy flavor, which houses a lot of powerful compounds that benefit your wellness!
Due to their worldwide cultivation, grapes are readily available in the supermarket all year round, making them accessible not only to the consumers but also to the countless researchers who want to study their chemical composition. Modern studies have confirmed that grapes are a storehouse of polyphenolic antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, minerals, vitamins, and other health-promoting nutrients that potentially prevent various illnesses, some of which are diabetes, heart diseases, vision disorders, and cognitive decline. Get ready to know more about the advantages of including grapes in your daily diet.
What are Grapes?
Grapes, of the genus Vitis, are small, rounded fruits that grow in clusters on a woody vine, which belongs to the Vitaceae family. They are a perennial, deciduous plant and one of the first cultivated plants in the history of mankind. While there are several varieties of grapes, the red, green, and red cultivars are the most popularly consumed ones.
The abundant history of grapes started in Asia during prehistoric times, although the first pieces of evidence on its existence were dated around 5000 B.C. The fruit appeared numerous times in the Bible, as well as burial tomb hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt. In 2000 A.D., Roman and Greek civilizations employed grapes for winemaking, which is still done at the present times.
Grapes are an excellent source of antioxidant color pigments that provide an impressive list of vital nutrients.
Botanically speaking, grapes are categorized under berries, as they have a thin, smooth outer skin called the exocarp, a fleshy middle called mesocarp, and an innermost part holding the seeds called the endocarp. However, some grape varieties are now seedless due to the new planting techniques. Three of the most distinguished grape species throughout the include European grapes, scientific name Vitis vinifera, North American grapes or Vitis labrusca, and the French hybrid grapes or Vitis rotundifolia.
The aesthetically-pleasing color of the grapes is because of the rich polyphenolic pigments like anthocyanins in purple and red cultivars or tannins and catechins in light-green berries. These coloring compounds are known to be powerful antioxidants that offer a wide array of health benefits for the body. With their amazing list of nutrition, grapes are enjoyed in many ways, including table fruits, ingredients for juice, wine, jam, or jelly, raisins, vinegar, and oil.
Nutritional Profile of Grapes
What are the Health Benefits of Grapes?
A scientific journal presents that the active polyphenolic constituents of grape extracts have potent antioxidant properties that combat the toxic free radicals from damaging the different organs of the body, particularly the heart. The known antioxidants in grapes include anthocyanins, tannins, catechins, procyanidins, and other flavonoids, all of which exhibit scavenging activities against oxidative stress, which triggers or aggravates metabolic disorders and neurodegeneration.
Alongside their excellent antioxidant support, these berries impart equally impressive anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have linked the dietary supplementation of grapes to a reduced risk of chronic and excessive inflammation caused by pro-inflammatory molecules like interleukins 1-beta, interleukins 6, TNF-alpha, and COX-1 and 2 enzymes, which may result to life-threatening diseases if not controlled.
Grapes have also been found to display antimicrobial activities against certain pathogens, including bacteria and viruses. These properties are attributed to their phytonutrients, such as flavonoid quercetin, piceatannol, and resveratrol, as well as some unique protein-like molecules, called oligopeptides. These compounds are said to prevent the growth and development of food-borne illnesses, polio, and even herpes.
Major Health Benefits of Grapes
1. Grapes promote stronger immunity
The combined benefits of the various nutrients in grapes significantly strengthen your immune system. The fruit has antioxidant phenols and polyphenols, dietary fiber, protein, healthy carbs, vitamins like vitamins A, B6, C, and K, folates, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine, and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium, all of which aid fighting off free radicals, infections, and metabolic imbalance in the body.
2. Grape nutrients aid digestion
Grapes’ fiber content and high levels of resveratrol are found to improve the body’s glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and digestion, thereby treating dyspepsia and other digestive issues like indigestion and gut irritation.
3. The fruit help treat kidney disorders
Red grape cultivars have been shown to help reduce your uric acid, efficiently eliminating the acid from your system and thereby decreasing the work pressure from your kidneys. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols also ease kidney disorders and their associated symptoms.
4. They also boost your brain functions
Another remarkable benefit of resveratrol in grapes is increasing the flow of blood to your brain, speeding up your mental responses, cognition, and memory. Health experts have linked the regular consumption of grape juice to enhanced brain functioning of older individuals with mild cognitive decline, alleviating and preventing Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
5. Antioxidant-rich grapes can combat cancer
Chronic and excessive oxidative stress and inflammation are some key factors that can trigger cancer development, which can be prevented with the help of the grapes’ antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. The primary compounds responsible for these benefits include proanthocyanidins, catechins, and stilbenes, particularly resveratrol, each of which supports the prevention of breast, colon, prostate, and skin cancers.
6. Grapes benefit your heart health
Clinical research shows that polyphenols quercetin and resveratrol present in grapes play an essential role in lowering the risk of heart diseases associated with high blood pressure and excessive levels of cholesterol in the body. The polyphenols, which are highly concentrated in the seeds, leaves, and stems of the grapes, have been found to protect the blood vessel linings, decrease lipid oxidation, and inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis.
7. They can also prevent eye diseases
Antioxidant resveratrol, which is concentrated in the skin of red grapes, has been revealed essential to improve and maintain good eyesight by blocking specific enzymes that destroy the ocular tissues and reducing any related inflammation. This polyphenol, along with procyanidins, helps in preventing macular degeneration and cataract formation.
8. Eating grapes soothes asthma
The nutritional value of grapes also offers healing benefits to individuals with asthma due to its capacity to reduce inflammation and improve the moisture level in both lungs and airways.
9. Grape minerals enhance bone strength
Grapes, being a wonderful reservoir of essential minerals like iron, copper, calcium, and manganese, are highly helpful in the better formation and strengthening of the bones. Consistent intake of grape extracts has been linked to a lower risk of age-related bone conditions, such as osteoporosis and bone loss.
10. Grape juice relieves migraines
Grape juice has long been utilized to cure migraines and relieve both physical and mental fatigue. Its plentiful antioxidants are exceptional in fighting off oxidative stress induced by chemical imbalances, dietary deficiencies, lack of sleep, and even changes in weather.
How to Prepare
Wash your grapes thoroughly under cold running water and use a colander to drain excess water before patting them dry. You can eat fresh grapes whole or sliced depending on your preferred shape and size and shape or whatever your dish requires. Never peel the grapes for maximum nutrition.
Here are a few delectable serving tips you can follow:
- Aside from relishing them as is, you can enjoy fresh grapes in any fruit or vegetable salad, along with apple, apricot, berries, currants, pear, peach, pineapple, tomatoes, lettuce, and other crunchy leafy greens.
- Use them as your main ingredient for ham, jelly, wine, and juice preparations.
- Impart a fruity punch in your curry recipes by adding some fresh grapes.
- Dried grapes like currant, raisin, and sultana are widely popular in confectionery preparations, including cakes, muffins, puddings, bread, and many more.
How to Select and Store
Selection: Since grapes are available throughout the year, you can always indulge yourself with the fresh fruits. To choose, look for those that have their skin intact, free from any crack, cut, and leaking juice and their color, rich, deep, and vibrant. Make sure that each berry is firmly attached to the green stem. To check this, try lifting a whole bunch and shake lightly, so loose grapes fall off.
Storage: Grapes easily spoil and ferment even at room temperature, so always keep them inside the refrigerator. Before storing, wash your fruits and tap dry using a soft cloth. Then, wrap them loosely with a paper towel and put inside a tightly-zipped pouch bag. Place them in the refrigerator set at high-relative humidity to keep freshness for a few days.
Possible Risks and Complications
Grapes are generally safe to consume when taken in normal servings and moderation. Excessive intake of the fruit might cause unwanted carbs and calorie buildup that may negate all some of its health benefits and can trigger weight gain. Also, some overly sensitive people may have a grape allergy, which may trigger symptoms like dry mouth, cough, sore throat, nausea, headache, vomiting, indigestion, and muscle pains.
Grapes are definitely one of the most delicious and healthiest fruits of all time. Their unique flavor and nutrient-rich compounds offer a lovely way to protect yourself from various chronic and life-threatening diseases like cancer, heart disorders, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, diabetes, kidney failure, cataract, macular degeneration, indigestion, migraine, muscle pains, and many other infections caused by free radicals and pathogens. With their easy availability and culinary versatility, including grapes in your daily planned meals would be as easy as ABC!
How do you enjoy your grapes every day? Share your wellness experience with us in the comments below!