We all know how tasty and versatile grapes are – they are used to make wine, raisins and grape oil, along with other wine products.
Grapes are so much fun to eat because of their round shape and unique texture – not to mention their sweetness combined with a slightly spicy taste. What are the advantages of grapes?
These delicious fruits have been shown to help prolong life, reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes, and even help prevent cancer. In addition, grapes can contribute to brain and heart health and many other wonderful benefits that grape food offers.
This makes them ideal for accompanying salads, for snacking between meals and for enjoying as frozen dishes.
Advantages of grapes
The grapes grow on the vine (Vitis vinifera) and belong to the Vitaceae family, which includes about 60 species of wild Vitis similar to interferences found in Asia, North America and Europe in subtropical, Mediterranean and continental thermal climates.
Among a family of berries, there are grapes with edible seeds, others – without stones. Like blueberries, the grapes are often covered with a protective whitish flower.
For thousands of years the vine has been widely used to grow fruit, juices, jam and wine.
Why is the grape a healthy snack? They can be a good daily supplement to your diet because they are a good source of nutrients, including antioxidants, fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C.
Here are a few more of the many advantages of grapes:
1. Supporting sustainability
Who doesn’t want to eat food that helps them live longer and healthier lives? Well, the classic grape can be one of those great dishes because of its phytonutrient content.
Resveratrol, a styrene-based phytonutrient found mainly in the skin, but also in seeds and meat, appears to increase the expression of three genes, all of which are related to longevity.
Studies show that resveratrol levels vary significantly depending on the genetic background, but the total resveratrol content of the leaves is generally lower than that of the skin. This means that the skin is responsible for a large part of the grape’s nutritional properties and, in particular, contributes to prolonging its life.
Some of the longest-lived crops, such as those in the blue zones, even contain grapes in their diet.
2. May help reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome, related diseases and obesity are the most common nutritional problems in the United States. There is evidence that polyphenols in grapes and grape products can reduce metabolic syndrome and prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes by acting as versatile modulators with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Grapes are classified as low glycemic index (GI) foods, with GI values ranging from 43 to 53. However, a low GI value is not necessarily synonymous with health benefits.
Recent research has shown that grapes, grape juice and grape extracts, thanks to the great phytonutrients they contain, can provide better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation and greater insulin sensitivity.
Frozen grape powder and grape powder extracts of red, green and blue-violet seeds and boneless Californian grapes were tested for their influence on glucose tolerance and inflammation and showed an improvement in glucose tolerance and a reduction in inflammation. In addition, grapeseed extract can prevent metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and obesity and at the same time improve intestinal health.
3. Charged with antioxidant
The flavonoids in grapes have high antioxidant properties that help reduce oxidative stress. It is reported that flavonoids, due to their metabolic transformation in the human body, can produce large amounts of simple phenolic acids, which have an important effect on free radicals in wastewater purification and enhance the effects of other antioxidants.
Vitamin C and manganese are two important nutrients to consider, especially considering that grapes are one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the diet. Grapes are also rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants ranging from common carotenoids such as beta-carotene to unusual stylbenes such as resveratrol.
In fact, it will take some time to list the different antioxidant nutrients found in the grapes. While all grapes are good for our body, the seeds and skin contain a rich concentration of antioxidants.
In this context, most studies have been carried out on grape skin, grape seed extracts or grape extracts containing skin, seeds and pulp. Grape contains approximately 1/20-1/100 of the total antioxidant capacity of a seed or skin.
4. With anti-inflammatory properties
Polyphenols in grape foods have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation. As natural compounds, grape flavonoids and proanthocyanidins can be used in different ways to overcome chronic inflammation and may be more effective than synthetic preparations.
5. Help keep your cardiovascular system in good shape
The list of cardiovascular benefits offered by the grapes is quite surprising. Several studies have shown that the consumption of grape products can have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system:
- Improvement of the endothelial function
- less LDL oxidation
- vascular improvement
- Changes in blood fat and cholesterol levels
- Blood pressure control
- and the modulation of inflammatory processes
6. May contribute to cancer prevention
Another particular advantage of grape consumption is the support it provides for the prevention of cancer. The rich supply of antioxidants in grape foods can help us avoid the dangerous combination of free radical damage and chronic inflammation that makes this fruit a huge anti-cancer food.
Fibers are essential for a healthy colon, and grapes provide us with about one gram of fibre per 60 calories. This combination of antioxidants and fibres may be one of the reasons why the prevention of intestinal cancer is becoming increasingly common in medical grape research.
In fact, a study has shown that natural grape extracts regulate the malignancy of intestinal cancer cells.
The researchers also found that the grape peel extract has positive chemotherapeutic results against breast cancer. And let’s not forget the shells, known for their antioxidant properties and their effect on human intestinal and pancreatic cancer cells.
7. Improved brain function
Studies show that the consumption of grape products rich in flavonoids can have significant positive effects on the functioning of the brain and central nervous system.
Grape flavonoids, especially anthocyanins, can help prevent neurodegenerative processes by inhibiting neuroinflammation and reducing oxidative stress.
A clinical study has shown that adding purple grape juice to a diet for 12 weeks can have neurocognitive benefits in older people with early memory loss. It has also been shown that the consumption of grape juice improves memory function in older people with mild memory impairment, which can be a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Antimicrobial agents
Many phytonutrients in grapes appear to have antimicrobial properties, ranging from common flavonoids such as quercetin to less common stylbenes such as corn pizzazatanol and resveratrol.
Although more research is needed, the researchers believe it can help us prevent microbial problems such as food-borne diseases.
Grape juice extracts, table grape skins and seeds have been shown to have a strong inhibiting effect on the growth of certain bacteria. Alcohol-free red and white wine extracts have been shown to have a moderate antimycotic effect on Candida albicans.
This antimycotic effect of grape products has made them attractive for commercial applications such as skin care products. And grape flavonoids can play an important role in intestinal health and ultimately have a positive effect in the fight against weight loss.
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Nutritional value of the grapes (plus typical)
One cup (approximately 151 grams) contains approximately :
- 104 calories
- 27.3 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.1 gram protein
- 0,2 gram fat
- 1.4 grams of fibre
- 22 micrograms of vitamin K (28% of DV)
- 16.3 milligrams of vitamin C (27% of DV)
- 0.2 milligrams of copper (10 percent of DV)
- 288 milligrams of potassium (8% of DV)
- 0.1 milligram thiamine (7% of DV)
- 0.1 milligram riboflavin (6% DV)
- 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (6% DV)
- 0.1 milligram of manganese (5% of DV)
Don’t be fooled by their small size. As mentioned earlier in this article, even a cup of grapes contains a ton of phytonutrients.
A grape variety probably contains some, but not all, of the phytonutrients listed below:
- Stilbenes – resveratrol, pizzatanol, pterostilbone.
- Flavanols – Catechins, epicatechins, proanthocyanidins, viniferas
- Flavonols are quercetin, camphor, mirecetin, isoramine.
- Phenolic acids – Caffeic acid, Coumaric acid, Ferulic acid, Gallic acid
- Carotenoids – beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin
Table grapes and raisins come from the same plant family, but there are about 60 different varieties. Among these 60 varieties there are literally thousands of grape varieties.
If you’ve ever tried to investigate the origin of wine in different countries, you’ll see that it’s related to the region where the grapes are grown. Only in Italy there are more than 1000 grape varieties in the vineyards on the slopes!
- Large grapes, eaten as they are, are generally called table grapes, while small grapes, found in vineyards, are the type used for wine production. Table grape varieties are usually flooded with water and are generally seedless. Their skin is relatively thin, which makes them more pleasant to eat than grapes because they are less bitter.
- Raisins are grapes that are usually dried in the sun, on paper or in the vineyard, so they become dried fruits known as the favorite raisins for children.
- Grapes are generally smaller, contain seeds and are relatively thickly wrapped. A thicker skin may be more bitter, but one advantage is that it helps to give the wine a more intense aroma. The conversion of grapes into wine also promotes the biosynthesis and metabolism of the volatile grape compounds, which can have a number of protective effects.
Which is the better type, red or green?
All types of grapes are available in different colours. While red, black and green grapes are the most common colored grape varieties used in the United States, other varieties are amber/yellow, blue-black, raspberry, pink and purple. White grapes may be a familiar term to you, but it’s actually green.
Some studies show that green grapes appear to contain slightly less flavonoids than red grapes, whose skins are richer in certain beneficial substances, including resveratrol. However, all grape colours, for example, still contain various protective components:
- Caffeic Acid
- Catechin gallate
- Gallic acid
- protototechic acid
- and Rutin
Because the skins of red grapes ferment longer to produce red wine, it is thought that red wine is particularly rich in resveratrol.
Grape oil is another remarkable form of grape because it contains a large amount of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid. It is also a good source of vitamin E and an excellent moisturizer for hair and skin.
To preserve everything the grape has to offer as food, you can add this fruit to various dishes such as salads, cocktails and cheese dishes. Here are some healthy recipes that will inspire you:
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Risks and side effects
Are grapes ever bad for you? One problem is that they can contain large amounts of pesticides if grown conventionally.
The Working Group on the Environment has often identified conventional grapes as one of the most problematic fruit and vegetable species in terms of pesticide residues.
By buying grapes from controlled organic cultivation you can avoid the use of harmful pesticides.
In a recent study of 99 vineyards in the Aegean Sea, pesticide residues were found on common table grapes, but these were identified as undetectable on organically grown grapes. This is excellent news that provides the necessary evidence that biological transfer is necessary.
To control your sugar intake, try to keep about one cup a day. Ideally a few grapes with a source of protein and/or fat to increase satiety.
Are seedless grapes genetically modified?
Many believe that when the grapes are seedless, they are genetically modified. Of course, GMO grapes should be avoided, but seedless does not mean that they are genetically modified.
Some seedless grape varieties are the result of natural mutations and can be vegetatively propagated for commercial production.
Other varieties produce seedless fruits when pollination is delayed, while some can be produced by crossing or inoculation. None of these methods directly manipulate the genetic material of the vines so that most of the nutrients in the grapes remain intact. But like most foods, certified organic versions are the best way to make sure you don’t use GMOs.
- Although grapes are relatively low in calories, they are a good source of many antioxidants, vitamins C and K, as well as fiber and other nutrients.
- The grape-based diet can offer benefits such as reducing obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, as well as promoting healthy digestion, brain function and much more.
- Which is the best grape, red or green? Red grapes get their color of antioxidants that fight diseases called flavonoids, making this variety popular with most health professionals. However, all species continue to provide nutrients.