Grapes have played a massive part in our history and culture. This sweet fruit can be used fresh or dried as well as pressed for juice and wine. Grapes make a great healthy snack for those moments when you need some extra energy and freshness.
The grapes we usually buy are seedless – red or green. The difference in colour is caused by the lack of anthocyanins due to genetic mutations in the green grape. Anthocyanins are polyphenols and these are responsible for the shade variations of purple colour in wines. Wine grapes are however smaller, seeded with thicker skins and much sweeter.
Key Nutritional Facts
Grape polyphenols make them a very healthy fruit. Scientific studies have approved their impact on the human metabolism therefore on a chain of different health issues caused by the metabolic syndrome: heart disease, high blood pressure, high body fat, high triglyceride level in blood, low good cholesterol. Grapes have a positive impact on the cardiovascular system because their polyphenols cause vasodilation and therefore reduce blood pressure. The health of heart for men with metabolic syndrome would be defiantly prolonged too.
Polyphenols also might be a great help for those wanting to reduce the body fat as eating grapes lower the accumulation of triglycerides in the muscle tissue. The Phospholipid amount in membranes also increases which reduces the risk of diabetes.
Resveratrol is one of the grape’s polyphenols and is found more in red grapes then white. Very good sources for resveratrol are also peanuts. Wines benefits are mostly associated especially with these compounds. Famously called the’ French Paradox’ is a phenomena of despite consuming a high animal fat diet; the French population has low number incidents for heart disease. This has been linked to the high level consumption of red wine in France.
There have also been positive outcome in researches for resveratrol’s antioxidant qualities on different cancers. No human trials though have been taking place. Studies of resveratrol’s kinetics in the human body have proven to be too insufficient for possible cancer prevention. In animal studies however resveratrol was able to prevent cancer but didn’t have impact on existing tumours.
Eye health and ageing
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in eggs (see the article here) and have been studied for their effect of retinal protection. Recent research has found though that grapes might be even more effective because of their ability to protect against oxidative stress. Scientists say that grape consumption even just during childhood might prevent ADM and blindness.
Previous research links the polyphenols like anthocyanins with protection against cancers and heart disease however grape juice might boost the memory for elderly who suffer from mild impairment in brain function. Drinking grape juice might also lower bad cholesterol in blood which is associated with different health problems therefore protect the heart.
Metabolism and exercise
Resveratrol activates special proteins called sirtuins (SIRT) which are involved in the energy metabolism which also react in the same way to a low calorie intake. Because of this grapes might also give strength and boost stamina in exercise. These founding have a great potential however require a further research.
Also known as sultanas, dried grapes or raisins are a healthy choice of snack. Although raisins are higher in sugar they also contain good amounts of iron, potassium, fibre and antioxidants. They are associated with blood pressure lowering effects and protection against oxidative damage to the DNA in sports performance.
The controversy surrounding wine consumption is still there. It is quite clear that alcohol is bad for us but wine, especially red seems to be different and subject to discussion. Here are some arguments why you should not drink heavily and keep it rather in moderation and choose red wine. Possible health benefits of moderate red wine drinking and disadvantages of heavy consumption of alcohol:
- Heavy alcohol consumption is associated with increased bone loss but moderate (1-3 glasses) wine drinking might prevent osteoporosis in elderly.
- Alcohol is a toxin and is generally linked to risk of cancer. Moderate consumption of wine however might lower risk of lung, ovarian and prostate cancer.
- Heart disease, high cholesterol and blood pressure are just some possible cardiovascular problems associated with high alcohol consumption. Again, moderate wine drinking actually might reduce the heart disease risk and reduce mortality rate.
- One of the unfortunate effects of long term heavy drinking is the inhibition of new brain cell development which might lead to depression. Moderation might fight the Alzheimer’s and dementia but more on this has to be researched first in order to support this possibility.
- Studies suggest that moderate drinking does not affect blood sugar levels and might even help to prevent Diabetes Type 2.
- Because of its cholesterol lowering effect wine drinking moderately might prevent the formation of gallstones and protect against ADM.
Key health benefits of eating grapes:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Might enhance the metabolism
- Give strength
- Lower cholesterol
- Help to prevent gallstone development
- Protect against oxidative stress
- Good for eyes
- Reduce risk of cardiovascular illnesses
- Might prevent some cancers
- Reduce risk of diabetes