Grapes are a sweet treat that dates back to around 6000 BC. It’s true – grapes have been a crowd pleaser for everyday snacks, charcuterie boards, jam, jelly, and wine making since Neolithic times. Not only are grapes a versatile fruit, but they also contain antioxidants that make them good for your health. In fact, eating grapes may benefit your heart and skin and may even protect against cancer. Let’s look at the wonderful reasons to eat grapes and the creative ways to use them.
Nutritive values of grapes
A ¾ cup serving of grapes contains:
● 90 calories
● 0 grams of fat
● 23 grams of carbohydrates
● 0 grams of protein
● 1 gram of fiber (4% Daily Value (DV))
● 22 mcg of vitamin K (25% DV)
Note that the nutritional values are identical for red, green and black grapes.
The health benefits of eating grapes
This juicy, succulent fruit is best known for its polyphenols, or beneficial plant compounds. Red, black and green grapes harbor polyphenols in the skin, flesh and seeds. Numerous studies have observed the benefits of polyphenols for healthy aging, and research links grape consumption to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
For example, a meta-analysis published in PLOS ONE examined the effects of grape consumption on blood pressure in ten studies. The researchers found that polyphenol intake – via the daily consumption of grapes – lowered systolic blood pressure by more than one point. Other studies have determined that consuming one and a quarter cups of grapes daily can improve blood vessel function, as well as reduce blood triglyceride levels, LDL cholesterol levels, and key markers of inflammation in the body. body.
The antioxidant properties of grapes also fight age-related cognitive deterioration. Research on people with memory problems found that eating just over two cups of grapes a day preserved activity in brain regions associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, one animal study suggested that eating grapes may reduce oxidative stress in the brain, which is associated with anxiety and memory decline.
Animal and human studies have also linked grapes to colon and gastrointestinal health. For example, research in mice shows that resveratrol – a specific polyphenol found in grapes – can suppress replication and promote colon cancer cell death. A small five-person study of colon cancer patients found that eating the equivalent of two and a half cups of grapes for two weeks reduced the expression of genes that promote cancer growth by 47%. Obviously, these results are limited, but they are promising!
Finally, more recent research suggests that grapes may protect the skin against harmful UVB rays. Researchers believe grapes act as an anti-inflammatory agent and increase the activity of proteins that play a role in eliminating cells that contribute to skin cancer.
Are there any downsides to eating grapes?
There is no downside for healthy people to eating grapes regularly. People taking blood thinners may need to avoid grapes because they are high in vitamin K, which can decrease the effectiveness of the medication.
Fun facts about grapes
You may know that this sweet fruit serves as a precursor to jelly and wine, but did you know these other fun facts?
Grapes are actually a berry
When you think of berries, grapes probably don’t come to mind. But you can put grapes in the same category as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. And like other berries, red and black grapes get their pigment from a compound called anthocyanin, which has been linked to heart health, cancer and protection against diabetes.
Skin contains antioxidants
Grapes contain phytonutrients, which are mostly housed in the skin of the fruit. The best-known phytonutrient, resveratrol — think red wine — is most concentrated in the skin.
Genetics determine grape color
In 2006, a plant geneticist determined that grapes had different colors due to their genetic makeup. Red, black, and green grapes are identical in nutritional value, but they have slightly different antioxidants. While dark grapes contain anthocyanins, green grapes contain flavanols. These differences are tiny, as all grapes have been shown to be beneficial.
All grapes contain a variety of antioxidants that fight inflammation. But red and black grapes also contain anthocyanin and reservatrol, the plant compounds that have been linked to heart and cognitive health. Therefore, darker grapes have light advantage in the nutrition department, but you can’t go wrong with a grape, so pick the one you like best.
And the grape juice?
Although grape juice is rumored to be high in sugar, 100% grape juice is made only from Concord grapes, contains no added sugar, and has been extensively researched for its potential health benefits. In fact, one hundred percent grape juice contains the beneficial polyphenols found in grapes, and research has established a clear relationship between grape juice consumption and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, 1/2 cup of 100% grape juice counts as one serving of fruit. Be sure to look for “100%” on the label to ensure the juice is made only from grapes and contains no additives.
Healthy Grape Recipes
Although grapes are inherently sweet, they pair well with savory dishes and desserts. Below are some great ways to use grapes in your cooking.
Savory: Add raisins to your main dish in this recipe for roast chicken with raisins and burrata or in this recipe for chicken skillet with rosemary and raisins from Antoni. Grapes also go very well with herbs, as in Giada’s Raisin and Rosemary Focaccia recipe, or with vegetables and cheese, as in the Roasted Raisin and Mascarpone Toast recipe or the Salad of farro with feta, Brussels sprouts, raisins and almonds. For a sweet and sour snack, try this recipe for pickled grapes.
Sweet: Put a bunch of washed grapes in the freezer and enjoy them frozen anytime. Combine chocolate raisins in this simple chocolate raisin bark or add to an easy and satisfying white kiwi sangria recipe.
More nutritional information on everyday foods:
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