Health Benefits of Grapes

The Incredible Health Benefits of Grapes & Why You Should Add a Bunch to Your Next Grocery Haul

Author: Danielle Aran, MS, RD

There’s no mistaking the refreshing snap of a firm, ripe grape. Grapes are plump bites of goodness that are not only tasty, but are a great all-natural source of nutrition that provide a host of benefits for your well-being. They’re downright gorgeous, but can also offer benefits like strengthening your bones and skin to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. They contain fresh water and fiber, an abundance of phytonutrients, and of course, that sweet delicious flavor. Your body will thank you each time you plop one into your mouth or incorporate them into a delicious recipe. So – let’s explore all the ways that grapes can help you be at the peak of your health!

Grapes are a superb snacking option because they can keep you hydrated and keep you full for very little calories. A cup of grapes provides you with 16 grams of carbohydrates and has fewer than 100 calories. They are able to quickly boost your energy levels, so are known to be consumed by many athletes, especially runners, as a perfect pre-workout snack. As an avid runner, I know that I love popping a few grapes before heading out for my runs. They are up to 80% water too, so you can quench your thirst with just a few handfuls.

Although you might say that grapes have lots of sugar, they do not have a high glycemic index. Grapes have a glycemic index of 59 (on a scale from 1 – 100 where 100 is pure glucose). This number represents the relative rise in blood sugar levels after you eat a certain food, and typically, an index of 70 or greater is considered to be high-glycemic. It turns out, that even raisins do not significantly raise blood glucose levels, despite the fact that ounce for ounce, they are higher in sugar than grapes. They are considered to be a low-to-moderate glycemic food.

Grapes are surprisingly nutrient-dense! These little jewels pack a punch.

Let’s dive deeper and take a look at some of the neat micronutrients and phytonutrients found in grapes. Manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, anthocyanins, and resveratrol are a few of the major compounds in grapes that contribute to their health-boosting potential.

  • One cup of grapes provides about a quarter of your daily vitamin C needs, which as most people know, is a vitamin that boosts your immune system. That’s why we gulp those fizzy orange drinks when there’s a cold going around. But, vitamin C also protects and helps rejuvenate the skin by limiting damage from ultraviolet light and by reducing wrinkles. It also keeps us from suffering from a host of other health problems, not to mention scurvy.
  • Nearly 20% of your daily vitamin K and 6 % of your daily manganese needs are covered by just 1 cup of fresh grapes. These two nutrients are vital for blood and bone health. Vitamin K is essential for getting blood to clot effectively, and manganese produces enzymes that build bones and then allows your bones to more easily absorb calcium. Who knew grapes could help us build and maintain bone strength?
  • Anthocyanins are what give some grapes their lush red color, but they also function as anti-inflammatory agents and can fight against oxidative stress (when the body’s cells are inundated with nasty free radicals). Chronic inflammation is related to things like plaque buildup in the arteries (which may bring about atherosclerosis) and osteoarthritis, so anti-inflammatory foods are incredibly valuable for long term health. Grapes can help your cells restore the balance between free radicals and antioxidants. It’s speculated that anthocyanins may even be used to fend off certain maladies like heart disease and some cancers.
  • Resveratrol is probably the most advantageous and note-worthy phytonutrient found in the skin of grapes, and is synthesized naturally as a part of their defense mechanism to fight off infection. This polyphenol has been praised for its health benefits, such as relaxing our blood vessels to lower blood pressure. My parents always told me that a little wine was healthy because it thins your blood – this is what they meant! Additionally, resveratrol is thought to have anti-cancer properties. Many in vivo and vitro experiments done in animals have suggested that resveratrol can inhibit the three carcinogenesis stages (initiation, promotion, and progression), and therefore have the potential to suppress cancer growth. One point to keep in mind, though, is that not all grapes are created equal when it comes to their resveratrol content. Dark red and purple grapes typically have a higher concentration than their green and white counterparts.

Eating grapes does wonders for many vital special organs: your eyes, your skin, and your heart.

Grapes are super beneficial for your vision. Not only do your eyes benefit the previously mentioned anthocyanins they contain, but also from the small amounts of a substance called lutein. Lutein is responsible for building up proteins in your retinas to defend them from free radicals. A study done at the University of Miami suggests that the anti-inflammatory properties of grapes slows down the degeneration of your eyeballs. These researchers stated that incorporating grapes into the diet preserves both the structure and function of the retinas when exposed to oxidative stress.

Grapes also keep you looking young by restoring your skin. Your skin benefits from both vitamin C and E, and resveratrol. The vitamin C in grapes is what’s able to restore your skin’s elasticity, one of the tell-tale signs of aging! The oil in grape seeds is rich in Vitamin E, which keeps your skin moisturized and even functions as a mild exfoliant. The oil in the grapes works here by removing the top layer of dead skin cells, restoring the skin’s supple texture. Lastly, when combined with common acne medication, resveratrol has also shown to be beneficial in preventing breakouts.

Finally, grapes are an excellent benefit when it comes to our heart health. Your heart and circulatory system benefit from just about everything in grapes, from the water to resveratrol. Keeping hydrated maintains blood flow, reducing inflammation lowers the probability of cardiovascular disease, and the key vitamins in grapes promote healthy, robust cells.

Grapes are delicious!

Grapes have a brilliant taste and can be integrated into many favorite dishes. I personally like to blend them into fruit and veggie smoothies, toss them into salads, and fold them into batter for homemade muffins. Grapes keep my drinks sweet without having to add extra sugar, which is so refreshing on a warm day, especially here in my hometown of Tucson! Grapes go wonderfully in my salads and add a scrumptious crunch to those bowls of greens. Muffins and cupcakes baked with grapes or raisins are a real treat! Again, they sweeten my baked goods nicely so that I don’t need to add much sugar. And my personal favorite way to eat grapes? It’s definitely to sandwich them between two slices of bread with crunchy peanut butter. Such a wonderful and refreshing bite of PB&J!