Grapes have a long and abundant history. While they’ve grown wild since prehistoric times, evidence suggests they were cultivated in Asia as early as 5000 BC. The grape also played a role in numerous biblical stories, being referred to as the “fruit of the vine.”
While table, wine, and raisin grapes come from the same family (Vitaceae) and genus (Vitis) of plant, there are about 60 different species of this plant type, and within these 60 species, there are literally thousands of grape varieties. Table grape varieties are most often larger in size, have been propagated to be seedless, and have relatively thin skins.
Wine grapes are usually smaller in size, contain seeds, and have relatively thick skins. All types of grapes come in a variety of colors. While green, red, and black are the most commonly consumed color varieties in the U.S., grape colors also include amber/yellow, blue black, crimson, pink, and purple.
Nutrition Facts of Grapes
One cup of red or green grapes contains 104 calories, 1.09 grams of protein, 0.24 grams of fat, 1.4 grams of fiber, 4.8 milligrams of vitamin C, 10 micrograms of vitamin A, 288 milligrams of potassium, 0.54 milligrams of iron and 3 micrograms of folate.
Grapes are high in water content and good for hydration. High water-content fruits and vegetables are nutrient dense, meaning they provide a large amount of essential nutrients while containing few calories. Grapes contain 70 milliliters of fluid per cup.
Grapes are high in antioxidants important for eye health such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and red grapes contain the phytochemical resveratrol in their skins, the antioxidant synonymous with wine known to lend protection from several chronic diseases and conditions. Grapes also boast the power of the flavonoids myricetin and quercetin which help the body to counter-act harmful free radical formation.
Health Benefits of Grapes
The health benefits of grapes include their ability to treat constipation, indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, macular degeneration and the prevention of cataracts.
1. Bone Health
Grapes are a wonderful source of micro-nutrients like copper, iron, and manganese, all of which are important in the formation and strength of the bones. Adding grapes into your diet on a regular basis can prevent the onset of age-related conditions like osteoporosis. Manganese is an extremely important element in the body, which aids in everything from protein metabolism, collagen formation, and nervous system functioning.
2. Lighten Scars
Green grapes help in lightening the acne scars. Vitamin C in grapes encourages the formation of scar tissues and ligaments and helps to repair the skin. Dust a bunch of green grapes with 1 tablespoon of alum and 1 tablespoon of salt. Keep them wrapped in a foil and bake them for quarter of an hour. Apply the juice of these grapes on your face, leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse with warm water. This is sure to visibly lighten the scars.
3. Immune System
Grapes are not only packed with flavonoids and minerals, but vitamins as well. The high levels of Vitamin C, K, and A in grapes gives you a healthy boost to many of your organ systems, particularly your immune system, which means less chance of coming down with common colds, as well as more serious health issues.
4. Cognitive Benefits
Several recent studies on grape extract intake by animals, as well as grape juice intake by humans, suggest that grapes may provide us with some important cognitive benefits. For example, daily consumption of Concord grape juice in a 1-2 cup amount over a period of several months has been shown to improve the scores of study participants on the California Verbal Learning Test.
Other studies on animals have shown that excessive accumulation of reactive oxygen species in the brain can be prevented with intake of grape extracts, as can excessive accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the hippocampus region of the brain. Synthesis of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules in the brain (including IL-6, IL-1B, and TNF-alpha) has also been shown to be reduced by intake of grape extracts.
While large-scale human studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits, it is expected that grape benefits for cognitive health will be confirmed in future research.
Ripe grape juice is an important home remedy for curing migraines. It should be drunk early in the morning, without mixing additional water. Ironically, drinking red wine is often considered a cause of migraines, but grape juice and grape seed extract is considered a solution for the problem.
There are many causes behind migraines, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the culprit, since they include chemical imbalances, lack of sleep, changes in weather, or dietary deficiencies. Alcohol in general causes migraines, but grapes have so many antioxidants that they can cause and cure the same illness.
6. Cardiovascular Health
It’s well-established that red wine offers some heart health benefits, so it should come as no surprise that so do grapes. The high antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory properties of grapes can help reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure, prevent clumping of platelets and reduce risk of clots.
A 2006 study by researchers at the University of California-Davis found that patients with metabolic syndrome (at risk for heart disease) who took grape seed extract experienced a drop in blood pressure.
An animal study at the University of Michigan also discovered that rats given a grape supplement blending green, red and black grapes had lower blood pressure, better heart function and reduced inflammation at the end of the 18-week study.
Because of the anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin, consuming grapes may help to alleviate symptoms of allergies including runny nose, watery eyes and hives. There have been no human studies done to prove this theory.
8. Fights Fatigue
Grapes make an ideal snack for fighting fatigue and improving your energy level. They are loaded with high quality vitamins as well as magnesium, phosphorus, iron and copper. All these nutrients work together to boost your immune system, provide energy and fight symptoms of fatigue.
Moreover, by eating grapes you can keep your iron and mineral levels balanced. Also, the carbohydrate content in grapes helps keep the muscular and nervous systems working well.
Just one handful of grapes or 1/2 glass of grape juice can give you instant energy and make you feel less fatigued. However, dark grapes may not provide the iron boost required to fight fatigue. Light-colored and white grapes are best for combating fatigue.
Eating foods that are high in water content like grapes, watermelon and cantaloupe can help to keep you hydrated and your bowel movements regular. Grapes also contain fiber, which is essential for minimizing constipation.
10. Protection against Sunburns
The fleshy part of grapes as well as the extract of its seeds contains proanthocyanidins and resveratrol which are powerful antioxidants. Application of grape seed extract on the skin provides protection against harmful ultraviolet radiation. It acts as a sunscreen, by reducing the redness caused due to sunburn and also minimizes the damage borne by the skin cells. It is due to this feature that grape seed extracts and resveratrol are often used as ingredients in sunscreen lotions.
11. Alzheimer’s Disease
Resveratrol, a beneficial polyphenol present in grapes, reduces the levels of amyloidal-beta peptides in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that grapes can enhance brain health and delay the onset of degenerative neural diseases.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition claims that grape juice can even improve the brain function of older people who have already displayed mild cognitive impairment. Further studies are currently under way to determine the exact interaction between grape components and neural systems.
12. Anti-Cancer Benefits
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of grapes help protect against cancer. They prevent chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, two important factors that cause cancer. Apart from reducing the risk of cancer, grapes also suppress the growth and propagation of cancer cells.
According to a 2005 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, muscadine grapes contain natural phenolic compounds that exhibit anticancer properties.
Grapes are particularly effective in reducing the risk of colorectal, lung, prostate and breast cancer. The compound resveratrol found in grape skins is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin from the sun’s damaging UVB rays, thereby reducing the risk of skin cancer.
To reduce your risk of developing cancer, enjoy fresh grapes or juice rather than the supplements.
13. Anti-Microbial Benefits
Numerous grape phytonutrients have been shown to have anti-microbial properties. These phytonutrients range from common flavonoids like quercetin to less common stilbenes like piceatannol and resveratrol. Recent studies have determined that grapes may also contain unique sets of oligopeptides (short protein-like molecules) that have anti-microbial properties.
Exactly how we benefit from these anti-microbial substances in grapes is not yet known. But researchers have begun to speculate about their possible role in helping us prevent microbe-related problems like food-borne illness. While research in this area is clearly in its early stages, it will be interesting to see whether diets that are rich in grapes (or grape products like red wine) turn out to be associated with reduced risk of microbe-related problems like food-borne illness.
14. Promote Hair Growth
The natural antioxidants in grapes increase the circulation of blood and promote hair growth. Grape seed oil is extracted from the seeds of grapes. It is green, odorless, non-greasy and has a light texture. Your hair is made soft, manageable, and shiny.
Individuals with a medical history of calcium oxalate kidney stones should avoid the “Concord” variety of grapes that contain high levels of oxalates.
Grapes is one of the few fruits which have glucose, the fast releasing sugar, making it a high glycemic index food. Still drink grape juice for its numerous health benefits, but dilute it with water or other less sweet juices. If you are normally healthy, drinking grape juice should not pose any problem.