Grapes are delicious juicy fruits growing in clusters on a woody vine called Vitis vinifera. The grapes come in different colors of black, dark blue, yellow, green, purple, crimson, and pink. Grapes are used in making wine, vinegar, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, and grapeseed oil.
The first cultivation of grapes (viniculture) is documented in the early 5000 BC in the Middle East, where it was used to prepare wine.
The wine was considered an essential part of social gatherings in Europe and the Middle East. Travelers from these places spread this fruit all across the world, reaching central California, USA, in the 17th century. Grape vines survived in the USA because of the favorable climate and absence of preying insects.
How to Store Grapes?
Grapes can be stored in your refrigerator. Make sure to wash them properly before eating. You can also freeze your grapes; store them in a plastic bag to retain their freshness for days.
Nutritional Content of Grapes
They also contain a large number of phytonutrients, mainly phenols, and polyphenols, that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
Nutritional value of grapes per 100 grams:
Preparation and Serving Method
Before eating, properly wash the bunch of grapes. Rinse them thoroughly in fresh cold water for a couple of minutes to remove any traces of dirt and pesticides. After that, gently swish them in cold water a few times. Pat them dry using a washcloth.
When properly stored in a refrigerator, grapes usually stay fresh for 7-14 days. If unused after 14 days, you can freeze them for later use.
Although seedless grapes are sought after more than its seeded counterpart, the seeds of grapes actually contribute a lot of nutrition through its extract and oil.
- Enjoy the berries as it is.
- Use seedless grapes in your fruit, vegetable salads, and yogurt.
- The raisin or dried version of grapes can be used in your baked goods such as muffins, bread, cakes, and confectionery products.
- Prepare grape jams, jellies, and juice.
Precautions with Grapes
To reap the health benefits of grapes, it is advised to be aware of instances that may warrant caution.
Some conventional growers use pesticides, which may be absorbed by the plant and integrated into its harvest. Always prefer organic grapes to dodge the harmful effects of pesticides.
Grapes contain resveratrol, which works on the same lines as vitamin K. It can accelerate the anticoagulant action of blood-thinning drugs such as Warfarin, or Coumadin. People on such medications should limit their consumption of grapes.
People taking beta-blockers such as patients with heart conditions should eat grapes in moderation. Beta-blockers can cause potassium levels to rise. Thus, they are advised to limit the consumption of foods that can increase potassium levels, such as grapes.
Avoid consuming large quantities of grapes if your kidneys are impaired or not functioning correctly. Failure to remove excess potassium may result in an accumulation in the blood, which can have a fatal consequence.
Stick to moderate drinking of red wine. It is advised that women should limit to one drink a day and men should take no more than 2 glasses a day.
Healthy Perks of Adding Grapes to Your Diet
Let’s dissect the potential health benefits of grapes.
1. Improves Eyesight
Grapes can help protect the photoreceptors of your eyes and help prevent macular degeneration and other eye-related diseases.
A study published in Nutrition corroborated the supplementation of proper diet with grapes to help fight the damage induced by oxidative stress, thereby preserving the retinal structure. The research used a laboratory model of retinal degradation for the study.
A 2016 study published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine demonstrated that administering grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) may help protect the retina against damage caused by hyperglycemia by countering the injury caused by oxidative damage.
Moreover, grapes’ anti-inflammatory property helps reduce inflammatory protein levels and increases the number of protective proteins in the retina.
- Eat grapes or grape juice regularly to protect the retina from deterioration and enjoy good eyesight for years to come.
2. Fights Fatigue
Grapes make an ideal snack for fighting fatigue and improving your energy level. They are loaded with vitamins as well as magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and copper. All these nutrients work together to boost your immune system, provide energy, and fight symptoms of fatigue.
A 2018 study published in Food & Nutrition Research highlighted that GSPE housed anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and mitochondrial protection properties and as such can be used to improve exhaustion after exercise. This suggests that GSPE could be used as an antifatigue food.
Moreover, by eating grapes, you can keep your iron and mineral levels balanced. Also, the carbohydrate content in grapes helps keep the muscular and nervous systems working well.
- Just one handful of grapes or a ½ glass of grape juice can give you instant energy and make you feel less fatigued. However, dark grapes may not provide the iron boost required to fight fatigue. Light-colored and white grapes are best for combating fatigue.
3. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
The flavonoids and antioxidants in grapes help improve cholesterol levels. In fact, this fruit can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) levels while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol) levels.
A study published in the Open Biochemistry Journal highlighted that the consumption of red grape juice can significantly elevate the levels of serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and decrease the levels of homocysteine (Hcy).
Moreover, grapes increase the blood levels of nitric oxide, which prevents blood clots and reduces the risk of heart attacks.
4. Improves Heart Health
Eating grapes or drinking red wine regularly offers many cardiovascular benefits such as reducing the risk of blood clots, preventing damage to blood vessels in your heart, and helping maintain healthy blood pressure.
It is believed that resveratrol and proanthocyanidins, present in grapes and wines, are the major compounds responsible for the cardioprotective abilities of grapes and wines.
Additionally, the anti-inflammatory properties of grapes prevent chronic inflammation and lower the risk of atherosclerosis and other conditions.
5. Boosts Brain Power
Grapes are also good for your cognitive health. Eating them on a regular basis can improve memory power and prevent age-related memory decline. The resveratrol in grapes increases blood flow to the brain and enhances mental responses. Grapes can even delay the onset of degenerative neural diseases such as dementia.
According to a 2009 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, supplementing with the juice of concord grapes helped improve memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
6. Replenishes the Skin
The fruit and the seed extract of grapes contain potent antioxidants, such as vitamin C, proanthocyanidins, and resveratrol.
Such nutrients help to replenish your skin by minimizing sun damage, reducing redness, and allowing collagen formation, giving your skin a youthful appearance.
Because of this benefit, grape seed extract is being used as a constituent of many commercial beauty products such as skin creams, sunscreens, and lotions.
7. Treats Constipation
Both grapes and grape juice are useful in treating constipation. The fiber in grapes is essentially the insoluble form. This form boosts the production of digestive enzymes. It can also ease gastrointestinal discomfort and encourage regular bowel movements.
Moreover, grapes are high in water and thus help keep your bowel movements regular as well as prevent indigestion and unnecessary irritation.
- When constipated, eat a small bowl of grapes or drink a ½ glass of fresh grape juice daily.
- If fresh grapes are not available, eat raisins soaked in water for 1 or 2 days. You must eat the soaked raisins along with water on an empty stomach in the morning.
8. Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
Grapes contain an antioxidant called resveratrol, which can contribute to regulating blood sugar levels by improving the metabolism of carbohydrates.
To reap this benefit, ensure that you take the grapes in their fresh and unprocessed form, as processed products come with added sugars.
9. Boosts Immunity
As stated in a 2013 study by Oregon State University, red grapes may enhance immune function. The resveratrol found in red grapes plays a crucial role in boosting the immune system and reducing the risk of uncontrolled immune responses.
When the immune system is healthy, it’s easier for your body to fight off illnesses and infections.
Additionally, grapes provide several nutrients that are vital for a healthy immune system, including vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6.
- To reduce the risk of getting sick regularly, eat grapes, especially red grapes.
10. Strengthens Bones
The various nutrients in grapes also help nourish and strengthen your bones. Nutrients including copper, iron, and manganese are essential in bone formation and strength.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Nutrition states that grapes support bone health by improving bone calcium retention. Moreover, people who eat grapes regularly have greater femur cortical thickness and strength.
- Eat 1 cup of grapes weekly to curtail the risk of developing osteoporosis and improve your bone density.
11. May Help Prevent Cancer
Grapes have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect against cancer. They prevent chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, two critical factors that cause cancer. Aside from reducing the risk of cancer, grapes also suppress the growth and propagation of cancer cells.
A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry states that muscadine grapes contain natural phenolic compounds that exhibit anticancer properties.
Grapes are particularly useful in reducing the risk of colorectal, lung, prostate, and breast cancers. The compound resveratrol found in grape skins is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the skin from the sun’s damaging UVB rays, thereby reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Enjoy fresh grapes or grape juice rather than relying on extracts to steer clear of cancer.
The rich nutritional profile of grapes speaks volumes about the slew of benefits they offer in addition to their palatable taste. Grapes can help treat constipation and poor eyesight, boost your immunity, and keep your skin healthy.
Aside from the fruits, the seeds can also be used as a dietary aid to improve and maintain your overall health.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Ms. Brierley Horton, MS (RD)
Which variety of grapes is the healthiest, red, green, or black?
They all provide excellent health benefits, but the darker ones typically offer more health-promoting phytochemicals and antioxidants.
Should people with diabetes avoid grapes?
If you have diabetes you don’t have to do away with grapes altogether, but, they are high in carbohydrates, and so you must be mindful of how many grapes you eat and what you eat grapes with, as both will impact your blood sugar levels.
Are grapes harmful during pregnancy?
No, not to my knowledge.
Are grapes with seeds better than the seedless variety?
No, not to my knowledge.
What is the best time of the day to eat grapes?
In my opinion, there isn’t a “best time” to eat grapes. They’re a healthy fruit and a good choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack between meals.
What are the ill effects of eating grapes in excess?
Anecdotally, some say that eating too many grapes at once might irritate their gastrointestinal system. Because they are more concentrated in carbohydrates, they may raise your sugar levels quickly, but if you don’t have diabetes, your body will naturally stabilize your blood sugar.
Otherwise, there aren’t really any serious or long-term ill effects of eating too many grapes.
Please suggest ways on how to include grapes in the diet in a healthy way for the benefit of our readers.
A healthy portion is about ½ to 1 cup of grapes – and that will count towards a serving of daily fruit. Incorporate that into your daily diet to help knock off a serving or so of fruits.
About Ms. Brierley Horton, M.S., R.D.: Brierley is an experienced writer and editor who strives daily for innovative ways to inspire people to be healthier. She previously served as Food & Nutrition Director for Cooking Light, a Meredith Corporation women’s lifestyle brand.
Prior to Cooking Light, Brierley was the long-time Nutrition Editor at Eating Well magazine. Brierley has also appeared on national and local broadcasts, including TODAY, Access Hollywood Live, Better TV and MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts. She holds a master’s degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and is a registered dietitian.
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