Grapes come in different colours and forms. There are red, green and purple grapes, seedless grapes, grape jelly, grape jam and grape juice, raisins, currents, and sultanas, not to mention wine.
Up to 8,000 years ago, people first cultivated grape vines in what is now the Middle East.
Today, 72 million tons of grapes are grown each year worldwide, mostly to produce wine. Every year, 7.2 trillion gallons of wine are produced. Grapes are also a popular finger food.
The nutrients in grapes offer a number of possible health benefits. They have been associated with prevention of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and constipation.
The nutrients in grapes may help protect against cancer, eye problems, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions. Resveratrol is a key nutrient in grapes that may offer health benefits. Grapes are a good source of fibre, potassium, and a range of vitamins and other minerals. Grapes are suitable for people with diabetes, as long as they are accounted for in the diet plan.
A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. Like other fruits and vegetables, grapes are a good source of fibre and water. Antioxidants and other nutrients in grapes may make them particularly healthful, although more research is needed to confirm some of their benefits.
Here are some of the ways in which the nutrients in grapes may boost health.
Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols. These are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One of these is resveratrol. It is found in the skins of red grapes.
Laboratory studies have suggested that resveratrol may be able to slow or prevent the growth of tumours in lymph, liver, stomach, breast, colon, skin cancer, and leukaemia. Resveratrol is also present in red wine. Few studies have looked at the association between red wine and cancer risk in humans, but it has been shown that high intakes of alcohol on a consistent basis can increase the risk of cancer. Another natural anti-inflammatory that occurs in grapes is the flavonoid quercetin. Studies have suggested that this, too, may help prevent or slow cancer growth.
2. Heart health
Quercetin and resveratrol may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol. These studies have mostly used doses of these flavonoids far higher than those usually consumed by humans. The polyphenols in grapes, such as resveratrol, are thought to have antioxidant, lipid-lowering, and anti-inflammatory actions that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). They may achieve this by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure and the risk of irregular heart rhythms. Grapes contain fibre and potassium, both of which support heart health. A high potassium intake has been associated with a reduced risk of stroke, protection against loss of muscle mass, and preservation of bone mineral density.
3. Blood pressure
Increasing potassium intake may help reduce the negative effects of too much sodium in the diet. Grapes have a high potassium content. This suggests they can help reduce the effects of sodium in people with high blood pressure. Fibre is important for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, including heart health and blood pressure. Grapes are a good source of fibre.
Because of the anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin, consuming grapes may help to alleviate symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes and hives.
5. Diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy
Resveratrol may protect against diabetic neuropathy, which affects nerve function. Scientists believe this may be due to the neuroprotective effects of this compound. Diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy can result when diabetes is poorly controlled.
6. Eye health
Grapes contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help maintain eye health. They are thought to neutralize unstable molecules known as free radicals. In this way, they may reduce oxidative stress and damage to the retina, and help prevent cataracts and other conditions. Resveratrol may protect against various eye problems, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and others.
Resveratrol could help treat acne, especially if used with benzoyl peroxide as a topical treatment.
8. Other health issues that resveratrol may help with include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Blood glucose control
- Boosting the immune system