There are literally thousands of different grape varieties that are categorized into three groups: table grapes which are conventionally eaten, wine grapes which are used for wine-making, and raisin grapes which are dried and made into raisins. But all contain the same exceptional benefits that make them a star fruit in healing.

Disease/Ailments:

Cardiovascular support
Respiratory support
Immune disorders
Chronic inflammation
Nervous system disorders
Cancer prevention

Health benefits:

Antioxidant: Grapes contain vitamin C and manganese, two conventional antioxidant nutrients that prevent free radical oxidation that causes harm to the body. In addition, grapes are packed with an array of phytonutrients such as carotenoids and stilbenes that induce a number of antioxidant activities such as preventing certain oxygen-related enzymes from becoming overactive. In addition, there is an increase of glutathione in the blood, an antioxidant nutrient that reduces oxidation. The highest antioxidant content is present in the skin and seeds of the grapes.

Anti-inflammatory support: Grapes have been shown to lower the risk of excessive inflammation through decreasing the activity of inflammatory message molecules called interleukin 6, interleukin 1-beta, and tumor necrosis factor alpha.

Cancer prevention: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of grapes explain their ability to decrease the risk of developing cancer. Grapes have been specifically linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancer. 

Cardiovascular support: The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities are the biggest heart healthy benefits to the cardiovascular system. All cells in the blood need protection against potential oxygen damage, a contributing factor in the development of atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular disorders.

Cognitive benefits: Studies have suggested that the intake of grapes increase cognitive function by multiple activities. These benefits may be due to the compounds in grapes that reduce the synthesis of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules in the brain and the prevention of beta-amyloid protein in the hippocampus region of the brain.

Blood sugar regulation: In addition to having a low glycemic index, grapes have been shown to have blood sugar-related benefits such as better blood sugar balance, insulin regulation, and insulin sensitivity.

Anti-aging and longevity: Resveratrol, a phytonutrient present in grapes, increases the expression of three genes related to longevity.

Good source of:

Manganese, vitamin K, C

Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:

Purchasing: Fully ripe grapes are the most antioxidant and nutrient rich. Pick grapes that are plump and free of wrinkles. The stem should look healthy and sturdy with all of the grapes intact. The color is the biggest indicator of the sweetness of the fruit. Green grapes should have a slight yellow tint, red grapes should be mostly red, and purple or black grapes should be deep in color. Grapes are available year-round.

Storing: Grapes should be stored in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage or fermentation. They should keep fresh for up to 5 days.

Enjoying: Try freezing grapes for a refreshing snack. Wash the grapes and pluck them off the stem. Dry them completely, put them in a heavy duty ziplock bag and place in the freezer.

Resources & recipes:

Rosemary and balsamic roasted grapes and olives: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/rosemary-and-balsamic-roasted-grapes-and-olives/
Green grape smoothie: http://veganyackattack.com/2012/01/21/green-grape-smoothie/
Roasted Brussel sprouts and grapes: http://veganyackattack.com/2012/01/21/green-grape-smoothie/
Kale and grape salad with poppy seed dressing: http://wellvegan.com/recipes/massaged-kale-salad-with-grapes-and-poppy-seed-dressing

 

References:

Dohadwala MM and Vita JA. Grapes and cardiovascular disease. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1788S-93S. Epub 2009 Jul 22. Review. 2009.
Hollis JH, Houchins JA, Blumberg JB et al. Effects of Concord Grape Juice on Appetite, Diet, Body Weight, Lipid Profile, and Antioxidant Status of Adults. J. Am. Coll. Nutr., Oct 2009; 28: 574 – 582. 2009.
Joseph JA, Shukitt-Hale B, and Willis LM. Grape Juice, Berries, and Walnuts Affect Brain Aging and Behavior. The Journal of Nutrition. Bethesda: Sep 2009. Vol. 139, Iss. 9; pp. 1813S-1817S. 2009.
Krikorian R, Nash TA, Shidler MD et al. Concord grape juice supplementation improves memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Br J Nutr. 2010 Mar;103(5):730-4. Epub 2009 Dec 23. 2010.
Kwon GT, Jung JI, Song HR et al. Piceatannol inhibits migration and invasion of prostate cancer cells: possible mediation by decreased interleukin-6 signaling. J Nutr Biochem. 2011 Apr 14. [Epub ahead of print]. 2011.
Lago-Vanzela ES, Da-Silva R, Gomes E et al. Phenolic Composition of the Brazilian Seedless Table Grape Varieties BRS Clara and BRS Morena. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jul 11. [Epub ahead of print]. 2011.
Lekli I, Ray D and Das DK. Longevity nutrients resveratrol, wines and grapes. Genes Nutr. 2010 Mar;5(1):55-60. Epub 2009 Sep 4. 2010.
Liu M, Liu RH, Song BB et al. Antiangiogenetic effects of 4 varieties of grapes in vitro. J Food Sci. 2010 Aug 1;75(6):T99-104. 2010.
Lopez-Oliva ME, Agis-Torres A, Goni I et al. Grape antioxidant dietary fibre reduced apoptosis and induced a pro-reducing shift in the glutathione redox state of the rat proximal colonic mucosa. The British Journal of Nutrition. Cambridge: Apr 28, 2010. Vol. 103, Iss. 8; pp. 1110-1117. 2010.
Noratto GD, Angel-Morales G, Talcott ST et al. Polyphenolics from Acai ( Euterpe oleracea Mart.) and Red Muscadine Grape ( Vitis rotundifolia ) Protect Human Umbilical Vascular Endothelial Cells (HUVEC) from Glucose- and Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-I. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Jul 27;59(14):7999-8012. Epub 2011 Jun 30. 2011.
Percival SS. Grape Consumption Supports Immunity in Animals and Humans. The Journal of Nutrition. Bethesda: Sep 2009. Vol. 139, Iss. 9; pp. 1801S-1805S. 2009.
Pezzuto JM, Venkatasubramanian V, Hamad M et al. Unraveling the relationship between grapes and health. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1783S-7S. Epub 2009 Jul 22. 2009.
Radhakrishnan S, Reddivari L, Sclafani R et al. Resveratrol potentiates grape seed extract induced human colon cancer cell apoptosis. Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2011 Jun 1;3:1509-23. 2011.
Ramprasath VR and Jones PJH. Anti-atherogenic effects of resveratrol. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. London: Jul 2010. Vol. 64, Iss. 7; pp. 660-668. 2010.
Spanou C, Veskoukis AS, Stagos D et al. Effects of Grape Extracts on the In Vitro Activity of Enzymes Involved in Oxidative Stress Regulation. In Vivo, Jul 2011; 25: 657-662. 2011.
Xia EQ, Deng GF, Guo YJ et al. Biological activities of polyphenols from grapes. Int J Mol Sci. 2010 Feb 4;11(2):622-46. 2010.
Zunino S. Type 2 diabetes and glycemic response to grapes or grape products. J Nutr. 2009 Sep;139(9):1794S-800S. Epub 2009 Jul 22. Review. 2009.
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About the Author

Ashley Kim

"Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners." – William Shakespeare

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