When you bite into a grape, you get more than a burst of juicy, sweet, goodness. You also get a dose of nutrients and antioxidants that may help you stay well. Grapes are low in calories and virtually fat-free.
Grapes have been around for thousands of years. As grapes ripen on their vines, they turn:
- translucent green
Some types of grapes have edible seeds. Other types are seedless. Seedless grapes may be easier to eat, but grapes with seeds tend to be sweeter. The seed itself may taste slightly bitter.
The grapes you find in your local grocery store are known as table grapes. Wine grapes are used to make wine. They are smaller than table grapes but have thicker skins and larger seeds.
Here’s a look at the nutritional benefits of eating grapes.
All grape varieties contain polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds that give grapes and certain other plants their vibrant colors. They also offer protection against disease and environmental damage.
Polyphenols are known antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body. The grape skins and pulp contain the most polyphenols. They also have the highest antioxidant abilities.
Grapes are good for you, in large part thanks to their polyphenol content. Polyphenols may help fight:
Eat grapes for a healthier heart. The polyphenols in grapes may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
In addition to scavenging free radicals, it’s thought that grapes have anti-inflammatory effects, antiplatelet effects, and support endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction is linked with risk factors for the buildup of plaque in the arteries, or atherosclerosis.
Move over, carrots. Grapes may soon take your place as the best food for eye health. According to research by the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, regularly eating grapes may help protect retina deterioration.
This leads to retinal diseases like macular degeneration. In the study, retinal function was protected in mice fed the equivalent of three servings of grapes daily. In addition, the mice retinas thickened, and photoreceptive responses improved.
Research shows that fruits rich in antioxidants, like Concord grape juice, help reduce oxidative stress that leads to aging. In studies, this reduction increased verbal memory performance and motor function.
A 2009 study found that Concord grape juice taken for 12 weeks increased verbal learning in adults who had a declining memory but didn’t have dementia.
According to the
- a large waistline
- high triglycerides
- low HDL (“good”) cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar
Polyphenol-rich foods like grapes may help protect against metabolic syndrome. Grape polyphenols, in particular grape seed polyphenols, may help improve:
- cholesterol profile
- blood pressure
- blood sugar levels
Grapes are a good source of vitamin K. Vitamin K helps clot your blood. Vitamin K deficiency puts you at risk of hemorrhaging. It may also increase your risk of osteoporosis, although more studies are needed.
Grapes contain a small amount of soluble fiber. This may lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. If you have bowel irregularity, eating more fiber may help.
Raisins are dehydrated grapes. They are packed with polyphenols. Raisins contain low amounts of water, so they actually have higher levels of antioxidants than fresh grapes.
A 2014 study discovered that munching on raisins three times a day lowered blood pressure. Raisins contain more sugar and calories, and yet are less filling than grapes, so it’s best to eat them in moderation.
Grapes are portable and fun to eat. It’s easy to wash a bunch and enjoy a healthy snack. Other ways to enjoy grapes are:
- make juice out of fresh grapes
- drink 100% grape juice with no added sugar
- add grapes to a green salad or fruit salad
- add chopped grapes to your favorite chicken salad recipe
- eat frozen grapes for a refreshing summer snack
Grapes are good for you. They are chock-full of antioxidants and nutrients. They also contain fiber and are a low-calorie food. Eating a diet rich in fruits like grapes may reduce your risk of:
- heart attack
Grapes are delicious and easy to eat but be aware of your serving size. If you eat too many in one sitting, the calories and carbs will add up fast. This may negate any health benefits and increase your risk of weight gain.
Grapes contain natural sugar, but they’re considered a low glycemic index (GI) food. This means a single serving is unlikely to raise your blood sugar significantly. But raisins are another story.
The sugar in raisins becomes concentrated during the dehydration process. This raises their GI level to moderate. The American Diabetes Association encourages eating fresh fruit as part of a healthy diet. Dehydrated fruits like raisins should be eaten in moderation.
Conventional grapes are known to have pesticide residue. To reduce your exposure, wash them thoroughly and choose organic brands, if possible.