Grapes, which are actually considered berries, are an incredibly healthy fruit! Recently there’s been a lot of hubbub about their nutrient content, particularly with regard to a nutrient called resveratrol. But what other nutrients do grapes contain? What are the health benefits of eating grapes? Let’s take a closer look…
Nutritional value of grapes
I was surprised by the fact that most nutritional studies on grapes have focused on various components of the grapes – not on grapes as a whole fruit. The studies show that the grape skins and seeds have the highest concentration of nutrition, while the actual flesh of the grape has a much lower concentration of nutrients.
Grapes are highly nutritious. They contain:
- The phytonutrient resveratrol
- Other phytonutrients and anti-oxidants such as flavinols, phenolic acids, and carotenoids.
- Vitamin K, copper, iron, vitamin B2, vitamin C, potassium and manganese.
- Another surprising nutrient: melatonin, a hormone that can also act as an anti-oxidant.
In general, the high phytonutrient and antioxidant content:
- Helps to support many of the body’s systems such as cardiovascular, respiratory, inflammatory, immune, and the nervous systems.
- Is thought to help prevent various forms of cancer.
- Protects our cells from free radical damage.
As mentioned above, grapes contain a high concentration of anti-oxidants. There are two reasons why the anti-oxidants and phytonutrients offer protection from various forms of cancer:
- The anti-oxidants and phytonutrients protect the cells from oxidative stress (caused by reactive oxygen molecules) and free radical damage. Both oxidative stress and free radical damage are thought to significantly increase a person’s risk of having cancer.
- The anti-oxidants and phytonutrients have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Inflammation is believed to be one of the causes of cancer.
Grapes and longevity
Resveratrol has been shown to activate three longevity genes (SirT1s, Fox0s, and PBEFs). There is ongoing research in this area.
Inflammation is believed to be one of the causes of premature aging. The anti-oxidants contained in grapes help the body to fight inflammation.
Benefits for the cardiovascular system
The phytonutrients and anti-oxidants in grapes are beneficial for heart health in a number of ways:
- They help to regulate cholesterol level, including reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
- They help to reduce blood pressure.
- They reduce inflammation in the blood vessels.
- They reduce the number of reactive oxygen molecules in the blood. Reactive oxygen molecules cause oxidative stress.
Good news for diabetics
Grapes are considered to be a fruit that won’t mess up blood sugars (they are low glycemic). More good news – studies have also shown that the nutrition in grapes have a positive effect on:
- Overall blood sugar balance, which is very important.
- Regulating the production of insulin (the ‘fat storing’ hormone).
- Insulin sensitivity (how well the cells react to the insulin produced by the body).
A possible connection between grapes and brain function
Research is being done regarding a possible connection between cognitive health and the nutrients in grapes. Specifically, resveratrol is being studied in connection with treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
The long list of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals found in grapes, particularly in the skins and seeds, have amazing benefits for optimal health. But that is not to say that the flesh of the grapes should be tossed aside because it is not as high in nutrients. The flesh offers other benefits such as water content and fiber, which are both helpful for digestion.
Are you ready to harness the power of whole foods nutrition? Are you wondering which foods to eat that can give you more energy, help you lose weight without ‘dieting’ and help you avoid common illnesses? Contact me, and let’s talk about how you can find the foods that support your individual body and help you reach your health goals.
© 2014 Cathy Ormon Health Coach. All rights reserved.