Eating Grapes of All Colors Makes Sense
(And Delights the Senses, Too)
You don’t need a Ph.D. or an M.D. to intuitively sense that fresh grapes are good for you. After all, people have been cultivating and eating them for thousands of years. From ancient times onward, grapes have also delighted our senses with their beauty, sweetness and luscious, thirst-quenching qualities.
Today, research scientists have been discovering exciting new facts about grapes and why they may benefit health in so many ways. Much of the research focuses on the impact of the grape phytonutrients, those edible plant components that appear to positively affect human health.
For a sense of the current research regarding fresh grapes, here is the good news:
1. Grapes Deliver a Payload of Antioxidants. Grapes of all colors contain a rich mix of antioxidants – including polyphenols, such as flavonoids and resveratrol. These highly beneficial antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals to help prevent the process of oxidation that damages cells. Sounds pretty technical, but in fact, neutralizing free radicals happens naturally when we eat foods like grapes that contain lots of antioxidants. When free radicals are left to their own devices, a condition called “oxidative stress” occurs. Oxidative stress is now associated with numerous chronic diseases, as well as aging.
2. The Amazing Antioxidant Resveratrol. Grapes are the main dietary source of this mighty phytonutrient. Resveratrol is a component in grape skins and is found in all three colors of grapes. Numerous studies distinguish resveratrol as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, with potential to impact a wide variety of health issues from cancer to Alzheimer’s to increased lifespan.
3. Resveratrol Against Cancer. Many studies note resveratrol’s anti-cancer activities. In laboratory studies resveratrol has been shown to hinder the effects of cancer at all three stages of its development: initiation, promotion and progression. The resveratrol in grapes — but not the resveratrol found in wine — has also been associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
4. Love Your Heart 101: Eat Grapes. Human studies have shown that eating a variety of grapes may help support a healthy heart by improving blood flow, arterial flexibility and blood vessel function. Grape components may also help prevent platelet aggregation, which can lead to clot formation
5. LDL Cholesterol 101: Eat More Grapes. Grapes also promote healthy arteries by helping prevent the oxidation of bad “LDL” cholesterol, which is a key contributor to the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
6. Grape News for High Blood Pressure: In a recent laboratory study rats were fed a salty diet and their blood pressures rose as a result. When grapes were added to their diet blood pressure levels dropped, heart function improved, and inflammation was reduced throughout their bodies. These animals also showed fewer signs of heart damage compared to those who did not receive grapes in the diet.
7. Fat Fighter? When you crave something refreshing – like grapes – after a heavy meal, your circulatory system may be trying to send you a message. A recent pilot human study showed that eating grapes with a high fat meal helped prevent the damaging impact of that meal. Study participants who did not eat grapes with the same meal experienced a 50% reduction in blood flow.
8. A Boost for Colon Health. A pilot human study of colon cancer patients who ate 2 1/2 cups of grapes per day for two weeks, showed a 47% decrease in the expression of genes that promote tumor growth in the colon. This benefit was observed in the healthy tissue of the subjects’ colons, not the cancerous, indicating a potential role for grapes in colon health.
9. Grapes are Brain Food. In preliminary studies, grapes seem to help protect brain health by counteracting oxidative stress and inflammation, or by targeting the actions of certain genes involved in diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
10. All Eyes Are On Grapes. Grapes contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two critical carotenoids for helping to maintain eye health as we age.
11. Grapes or Pain Medication for Arthritis? Good question. How about both? In one animal study, a grape-enriched diet significantly reduced the amount of pain related to arthritis, while pain-reducing drug Meloxicam showed no impact on pain. Interestingly, the combination treatment of grapes and meloxicam gave greater pain relief than either did on its own.
12.Supporting Men’s Health: Prostate enlargement is a significant concern for many middle-aged and older men. A series of animal studies showed that consuming grapes helped to protect against the loss of bladder function associated with an enlarged prostate, which can partially obstruct the urethra causing the bladder to weaken. Adding grapes to the diet provided a strong antioxidant effect and membrane-protective properties that significantly reduced and reversed bladder damage caused by a partial obstruction.
13. Grapes. The Basic Goodness: Grapes contain no fat and almost no sodium. They also contain potassium. Did we mention they taste good, are widely available and maintain their fresh, crispy goodness longer than most other fruit?
14. Kids Love Grapes: Review the research and trust your instincts, but out of the mouths of babes comes…”Mom, I want grapes!” Yes, kids love grapes. Kids view them as a fun snack and a sweet treat. Wouldn’t you rather they ate a super fruit like grapes than a low- nutrient (and now that we know more) low-phytonutrient food? You have the answer.
This is a compilation of information from the website of the California Table Grape Commission.
For more information about fresh California grapes, please visit: California Table Grape Commission