Grapes have a long and abundant history. While they’ve grown wild since creation, evidence suggests they were cultivated in Asia as early as 5000 BC. Grape also played a role in numerous biblical accounts, being referred to by Jesus as the “fruit of the vine.”
There are more than 50 different varieties of grapes that are for regular consumption. Each kind of grape is slightly different in terms of the kinds of nutrients it can contain, yet what the research increasingly indicates is that every kind of grape may promote greater health and longer living among people who consume them regularly.
Grapes themselves are made up of between 70 and 80 percent water and between 20 and 30 percent sugars, such as glucose and fructose. However, there are a number of additional nutrients in most grapes, including gallic acid, glucosides, phosphoric acid, manganese, iron, and a number of vitamins, calcium, and folic acid. The nutrients and enzymes contained within grapes indicate that they are a rich source for a variety of healthy elements needed by the body.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GRAPES
- Grapes are rich in polyphenolic phytochemical compound resveratrol. Resveratrol is one of powerful anti-oxidant, which has been found to play protective function against cancers of colon and prostate, coronary heart disease (CHD), degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease and viral/ fungal infections.
- Resveratrol reduces stroke risk by altering the molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels. It does so firstly by reducing susceptibility of blood vessels damage through decreased activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would otherwise elevate blood pressure) and secondly, through increased production of the vasodilator substance, nitric oxide (a beneficial compound that causes relaxation of blood vessels).
- Anthocyanins are another class of polyphenolic anti-oxidants present abundantly in the red grapes. These phyto-chemicals have been found to have anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, as well as anti-cancer activities.
- Catechins, a type of flavonoid tannin group of anti-oxidants found in white/green varieties has also shown to have these health protecting functions.
- In addition, the berries are very low in calories. 100 g fresh grapes just provide 69 calories but zero cholesterol levels.
- Grapes are rich source of micronutrient minerals like copper, iron and manganese. Copper and manganese are an essential co-factor of antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is specially concentrated more in raisins. In addition 100 g of fresh grapes contain about 191 mg of health benefiting electrolyte, potassium.
- They are also good source of vitamin-C, vitamin A, vitamin K, carotenes, B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamin.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
For the best tasting grapes with high concentrations of antioxidants select those that are ripe. Fully ripened grapes are plump and free from wrinkles. They should be intact, firmly attached to a healthy looking stem, and not leaking juice.
Since grapes tend to spoil and ferment at room temperature, they should always be stored in the refrigerator. Loosely wrap unwashed grapes in a paper towel and place them in an airtight container or plastic bag. This way, they’ll keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you are not going to consume the whole bunch at one time, use scissors to separate small clusters of grapes from the stem instead of removing individual grapes. This will help keep the remaining grapes fresher by preventing the stem from drying out.
FUN IDEA FOR KIDS
While freezing detracts from some of their flavor, frozen grapes are a wonderful snack and particularly intriguing to children. To freeze grapes, wash and pat them dry, then arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer.
It is important to dry the grapes by patting them because excess moisture can cause the grapes to stick together and become one large frozen fruit clump. Once frozen, transfer grapes to a heavy plastic bag and return them to the freezer. Your kids or grandkids can enjoy them as a healthy treat especially during the hot summer months.
If you are drinking grape juice for health benefits, avoid products labeled as grape “drinks.” This is often an imitation high-sugar product with little real grape juice.
GRAPES AND PESTICIDE RESIDUES
Even though pesticides are present in food at very small trace levels, their negative impact on health is well documented. The liver’s ability to process other toxins, the cells’ ability to produce energy, and the nerves’ ability to send messages can all be compromised by pesticide exposure. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2011 report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” imported grapes are among the 12 foods on which pesticide residues have been most frequently found. Therefore, individuals wanting to avoid pesticide-associated health risks may want to avoid consumption of imported grapes unless they are grown organically.
- God’s Healing Plants is not licensed as, or designed to be, a healthcare facility; therefore we do not diagnose conditions, offer medical advice, or prescribe or administer medication.
- The nutrition and health information resented at the God’s Healing Plants Web Site is based on Scripture, research and personal experience, and is offered for educational purposes only.
- There can be risks involved when changing diet and lifestyle; therefore, as each guest chooses to make these types of changes, we at God’s Healing Plants cannot be held responsible or liable for any adverse effects or consequences that may result from your personal choices.