What are the benefits of eating grapes?

Grapes health benefits

What are the benefits of eating grapes?
Photo by Nacho Domínguez Argenta on Unsplash

There are many varieties of grapes: red, green, purple to seedless grapes, not to mention wine and raisins. This popular fruit has been cultivated for the past 8000 years. It was known to be cultivated first in the Middle East. The humble grape is actually a berry. Several million tones of this berry are grown in the world each year, with most of them used to make wine.

Grapes are portable and delicious. The health benefits of eating grapes are many, with studies showing their efficacy in preventing cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure as well as constipation.

Nutrition in grapes

The best serving size of grapes is one cup with 32 grapes. One cup of red grapes contains

104 calories

1.09 grams of protein

0.24 grams of fat

1.4 grams of fibre

4.8 milligrams of vitamin C

10 micrograms of vitamin A

288 milligrams of potassium

Grapes are rich in water and thus are good for hydration. High water-content fruits are usually nutrient dense. They are known to contain a large variety of nutrients while containing few calories. Grapes contain 70 millilitres of fluid per cup. Grapes contain antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. Red grapes contain a phytochemical resveratrol in their skins. This protects the body from many diseases and conditions. Grapes contain flavonoids myricetin and quercetin which help the body slow down the formation of free radicals.

Benefits of grapes

1. Grapes have antioxidants known as polyphenols, which are known to slow down or even prevent the formation of many types of cancers. It is especially effective against oesophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, pancreatic, prostate and colon cancer.

2. The flavonoid quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties which reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protects against damage caused by low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The polyphenol present in grapes helps to reduce the risk of heart disease by preventing platelet build-up and reduce blood pressure.

3. The fibre and potassium present in grapes are also good for the heart. A diet of high potassium and low sodium is necessary to avoid heart trouble. High potassium is also known to reduce the risk of stroke and the formation of kidney stones.

4. Because of its high potassium content, grapes are good for those with high blood pressure. Grapes help to neutralize the effect of sodium on the body.

5. Grapes are rich in water. Eating such kinds of fruits helps to keep you hydrated and regularizes your bowel movements. Grapes also contain fibre, which minimizes constipation.

6. The quercetin in grapes has anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to diminish the symptoms of allergies like running nose and watery eyes.

7. The chemical resveratrol present in grapes protects you from diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy. Resveratrol is beneficial against Alzheimer’s disease and mood swings associated with menopause.

Add grapes to your diet

Grapes are a versatile berry and there are many ways to incorporate it into your diet. You can add grapes to your chicken salad. You can make a fruit cocktail and include grapes, pineapples, sliced peaches and strawberries. Add a bit of honey on top for a sweet flavour. Freeze grapes and eat them on a hot day as desserts. Or simply have a cup of fresh cup of grapes.

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Possible health benefits of grapes

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other conditions.

Many studies have shown that increasing consumption of plant foods like grapes decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality.

Grapes also have some special components that make them even more essential to our health, giving them "super food" status. Although more research is needed before any of these health benefits can be said to be conclusive, grapes have been associated with reducing the risk of the following conditions:

1) Cancer

Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may slow or prevent many types of cancer, including esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon.

The resveratrol found in red wine famous for heart health is a type of polyphenol found in the skins of red grapes.

2) Heart Disease

The flavonoid quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory that appears to reduce the risk of 
atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in animal studies. Quercetin may have the additional bonus of anti-cancer effects; however more studies are needed using human subjects before these results can be confirmed.

The high polyphenol content in grapes may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure via anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

The fiber and potassium in grapes also support heart health. An increase in potassium intake along with a decrease in sodium intake is the most important dietary change that a person can make to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Mark Houston, MD, MS, an associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt Medical School and director of the Hypertension Institute at St Thomas Hospital in Tennessee.

In one study, those who consumed 4069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1000 mg per day).

High potassium intakes are also associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, preservation of bone mineral density and reduction in the formation of kidney stones.

3) High Blood Pressure

As noted above, potassium has many benefits for the body. It may be that a low potassium intake is just as big of a risk factor in developing high blood pressure as a high sodium intake.4 Because of their high potassium content, grapes are recommended to those with high blood pressure to help negate the effects of sodium in the body.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, fewer than 2% of US adults meet the daily 4700 mg recommendation for potassium.

Also of note, a high potassium intake is associated with a 20% decreased risk of dying from all causes.

4) Constipation

Eating foods that are high in water content like grapes, watermelon and cantaloupe can help to keep you hydrated and your bowel movements regular. Grapes also contain fiber, which is essential for minimizing constipation.

5) Allergies

Because of the anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin, consuming grapes may help to alleviate symptoms of allergies including runny nose, watery eyes and hives. There have been no human studies done to prove this theory.

6) Diabetes

A large cohort study published in the BMJ in 2013 found that certain fruits - but not juices - may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults. Over the course of the study, 6.5% of the participants developed diabetes, but the researchers found that consuming three servings per week of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples or pears reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7%.

7) Diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy

A few studies have shown promise that resveratrol can protect against diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy, conditions caused by poorly controlled diabetes where vision is severely affected. One study in which diabetic rats were treated with resveratrol for two weeks found that it reduced the effects of neural changes and damage associated with diabetic neuropathy.

Researchers have also found resveratrol to be beneficial for treating Alzheimer's disease, relieving hot flashes and mood swings associated with menopause and improving blood glucose control, however large studies using human subjects are still needed to confirm these findings.

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Mohamed Karni
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