Grapes have been cultivated for thousands of years and have been revered by several ancient civilizations for their use in winemaking.
There are many types of grapes including green, red, black, yellow and pink. They grow in clusters and come in seeded and seedless varieties.
Grapes are grown in temperate climates across the world, including Southern Europe, Africa, Australia and North and South America. The majority of grapes grown in the US are from California.
Grapes offer a wealth of health benefits due to their high nutrient and antioxidant contents.
Here are the top 12 health benefits of eating grapes.
Grapes are high in several important nutrients.
One cup (151 grams) of red or green grapes contains the following nutrients (1):
- Calories: 104
- Carbs: 27.3 grams
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Vitamin C: 27% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin K: 28% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 7% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
- Potassium: 8% of the RDI
- Copper: 10% of the RDI
- Manganese: 5% of the RDI
They’re also a good source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant necessary for connective tissue health (3).
Summary Grapes contain many important vitamins and minerals, including more than one-quarter of the RDIs for vitamins C and K.
Antioxidants are compounds found in plants, for example. They help repair the damage to your cells caused by free radicals, which are harmful molecules that cause oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been associated with several chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer and heart disease (4).
The highest concentration of antioxidants is found in the skin and seeds. For this reason, most of the research on grapes has been done using seed or skin extracts (7).
Red grapes contain higher numbers of antioxidants due to the anthocyanins that give them their color (5).
The antioxidants in grapes remain present even after fermentation, which is why red wine is also high in these compounds (8).
One of the antioxidants in this fruit is resveratrol, which is classified as a polyphenol.
Numerous studies have been performed on its benefits, showing that resveratrol protects against heart disease, lowers blood sugar and protects against the development of cancer (9).
Grapes also contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, lutein, lycopene and ellagic acid, which are powerful antioxidants as well (6).
Summary Grapes are high in antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds that may protect against chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Grapes contain high levels of beneficial plant compounds, which may help protect against certain types of cancer (6).
Resveratrol, one of the compounds found in this fruit, has been well-studied in terms of cancer prevention and treatment.
It has been shown to protect against cancer by reducing inflammation, acting as an antioxidant and blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells within the body (10).
However, the unique combination of plant compounds found in grapes may be responsible for their anti-cancer benefits. In addition to resveratrol, grapes also contain quercetin, anthocyanins and catechins — all of which may have beneficial effects against cancer (11).
Additionally, one study in 30 people over the age of 50 showed that eating 1 pound (450 grams) of grapes per day for two weeks decreased markers of colon cancer risk (14).
While studies on grapes and cancer in humans are limited, a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods, such as grapes, has been linked to a lower risk of cancer (18).
Summary Grapes contain many beneficial plant compounds, such as resveratrol, that may protect against various types of cancer, including colon cancer and breast cancer.
There are several reasons why eating grapes is good for your heart.
May Help Lower Blood Pressure
This mineral is necessary for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Low intake of potassium has been linked to increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke (19).
A study in 12,267 adults showed that people who consumed higher levels of potassium in relation to sodium were less likely to die from heart diseases than those who consumed less potassium (20).
May Help Reduce Cholesterol
Compounds found in grapes may help protect against high cholesterol levels by decreasing cholesterol absorption (21).
In one study in 69 people with high cholesterol, eating three cups (500 grams) of red grapes a day for eight weeks was shown to lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol. White grapes did not have the same effect (22).
Summary Compounds in grapes and red wine may protect against heart disease. Grapes may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Grapes contain 23 grams of sugar per cup (151 grams), which may make you wonder if they’re a good choice for people with diabetes (1).
They have a low glycemic index (GI) of 53, a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar.
Furthermore, compounds found in grapes may even decrease blood sugar levels. In a 16-week study in 38 men, those who took 20 grams of grape extract per day experienced decreased blood sugar levels, compared to a control group (24).
Additionally, resveratrol has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which may improve your body’s ability to use glucose and hence lower blood sugar levels (25).
Resveratrol also increases the number of glucose receptors on cell membranes, which may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar (26).
Managing your blood sugar levels over time is an important factor in reducing your risk of diabetes.
Summary Though grapes are high in sugar, they have a low glycemic index. Additionally, compounds in grapes may protect against high blood sugar.
The plant chemicals found in grapes may protect against common eye diseases.
In one study, mice fed a diet supplemented with grapes showed fewer signs of damage to the retina and had better retinal function compared with mice who were not fed the fruit (27).
In a test-tube study, resveratrol was found to protect retinal cells in the human eye from ultraviolet A light. This may lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common eye disease (28).
According to a review study, resveratrol may also help protect against glaucoma, cataract and diabetic eye disease (29).
Summary Grapes contain several compounds, such as resveratrol, lutein and zeaxanthin, that may protect against common eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma.
Eating grapes may benefit your brain health and boost your memory.
In a 12- week study in 111 healthy older adults, 250 mg of a grape supplement per day significantly improved scores on a cognitive test measuring attention, memory and language compared to baseline values (31).
Another study in healthy young adults showed that drinking about 8 ounces (230 ml) of grape juice improved both the speed of memory-related skills and mood 20 minutes after consumption (32).
Studies in rats have shown that resveratrol improved learning, memory and mood when taken for 4 weeks (33).
Additionally, the rats’ brains showed signs of increased growth and blood flow (33).
Resveratrol may also help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, though studies in humans are needed to confirm this (34).
Summary Grapes contain compounds that may improve memory, attention and mood and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, though more human-based research is needed to confirm some of these benefits.
In one study, rats fed freeze-dried grape powder for 8 weeks had better bone absorption and retention of calcium versus rats that did not receive the powder (37).
Human-based studies on the effect of grapes on bone health are currently lacking.
Summary Grapes contain many nutrients important for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K. Studies in rats have shown that grapes may have protective effects on bones, but human studies are needed to confirm these benefits.
Grape skin extract has been shown to protect against the flu virus in test-tube studies (42).
Additionally, compounds in grapes stopped the herpes virus, chicken pox and yeast infections from spreading in test-tube studies (43).
Summary Grapes contain several compounds that have shown beneficial effects against certain bacteria, viruses and yeast infections.
Plant compounds found in grapes may affect aging and lifespan.
Resveratrol has been shown to lengthen lifespan in a variety of animal species (45).
Resveratrol also affects several other genes associated with aging and longevity (49).
Summary Resveratrol in grapes has been shown to activate genes associated with slower aging and longer lifespan.
Chronic inflammation plays a key role in the development of chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and autoimmune diseases, to name just a few (50).
In a study in 24 men with metabolic syndrome — a risk factor for heart disease — a grape powder extract equivalent to approximately 1.5 cups (252 grams) of fresh grapes increased the number of anti-inflammatory compounds in their blood (52).
Similarly, another study in 75 people with heart disease found that taking grape powder extract increased levels of anti-inflammatory compounds, compared to a control group (53).
A study in rats with inflammatory bowel disease showed that grape juice improved not only signs of the disease but also increased blood levels of anti-inflammatory compounds (54).
Summary Grapes contain compounds that may have anti-inflammatory effects, which may protect against certain heart and bowel diseases.
Grapes are easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. Here are a few ways you can enjoy them:
- Eat grapes plain as a snack.
- Freeze grapes for a cool treat.
- Add chopped grapes to a vegetable or chicken salad.
- Use grapes in a fruit salad.
- Add grapes or grape juice to a smoothie.
- Add grapes to a cheese board for an appetizer or dessert.
- Drink 100% grape juice.
Summary Grapes are delicious and easy to add to your diet for breakfast, lunch, dinner or simply as a convenient, healthy snack.
Grapes contain several important nutrients and powerful plant compounds that benefit your health.
Though they contain sugar, they have a low glycemic index and don’t appear to raise blood sugar levels.
Antioxidants in grapes, such as resveratrol, reduce inflammation and may help protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Grapes are easy to incorporate into your diet, whether fresh, frozen, as juice or wine.
For the most benefits, choose fresh, red over white grapes.