A cup of grapes contains just 90 calories, but no fat, no cholesterol and virtually no sodium.
Grapes are an excellent source of vitamin K.
Grapes of all colors are a natural source of antioxidants and other polyphenols.
You don't need a Ph.D. or an M.D. to intuitively sense that fresh grapes are good for you. After all, people have been cultivating and eating them for thousands of years. From ancient times onward, grapes have also delighted our senses with their beauty, sweetness and luscious, thirst-quenching qualities.
Today, research scientists have been discovering exciting new facts about grapes and why they may benefit health in so many ways. Here are seven great reasons to add grapes to your day:
1. Grapes Deliver Antioxidants and Other Polyphenols. Grapes of all colors contain a variety ofantioxidants and other polyphenols. These beneficial antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals to help prevent the process of oxidation that damages cells. Sounds pretty technical, but in fact, neutralizing free radicals happens naturally when we eat foods like grapes that contain lots of antioxidants. When free radicals are left to their own devices, a condition called "oxidative stress" occurs. Oxidative stress is now associated with numerous health conditions and chronic illnesses.
2. Love Your Heart: Eat Grapes. Human studies have shown that eating a variety of grapes may help support a healthy heart by improving blood flow, arterial flexibility and blood vessel function. Grape consumption may also help prevent platelet aggregation, which can lead to clot formation. Grapes also promote healthy arteries by helping prevent the oxidation of bad "LDL" cholesterol, which is a key contributor to the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
3. "Grape" News for High Blood Pressure. In a recent series of laboratory studies, rats were fed a salty diet and their blood pressures rose as a result. When grapes were added to their diet blood pressure levels dropped, heart function improved and inflammation was reduced throughout their bodies. These animals also showed fewer signs of heart damage compared to those who did not receive grapes in the diet.
4. A Boost for Colon Health. In a small human study of colon cancer patients, those who ate 2 1/2 cups of grapes per day for two weeks were able to inhibit certain genes that promote tumor growth in the colon. This benefit was observed in the healthy tissue of the subjects' colons, not the cancerous, indicating a potential role for grapes in maintaining a healthy colon.
5. All Eyes Are On Grapes. In a recent laboratory study, grapes prevented blindness in mice that were prone to developing retinal damage in old age, similar to age-related macular degeneration in humans. When compared to lutein, grapes offered significantly more protection.
6. Grapes are Brain Food. In preliminary studies, grapes seem to help protect brain health by counteracting oxidative stress and inflammation, or by targeting the actions of certain genes involved in age-related diseases of the brain.
7. Supporting Men's Health. Prostate enlargement is a significant concern for men. A series of animal studies showed that consuming grapes helped to protect against the loss of bladder function associated with a partial obstruction – similar to that resulting from an enlarged prostate – which can cause the bladder to weaken. Adding grapes to the diet provided a strong antioxidant effect and membrane-protective properties that significantly reduced and reversed bladder damage caused by a partial obstruction.
Science is now revealing what we’ve perceived intuitively for centuries: Grapes are very, very good for us.
Research has shown that grapes of all colors – red, green and black – are a natural source of beneficial components called polyphenols, which are also antioxidants.
Grape polyphenols appear to protect the health and function of our cells. That sounds pretty basic – which it is – but how these influential compounds accomplish the job is both complex and fascinating.
What’s exciting for us is that grape polyphenols may contribute to a healthy heart, and may help defend against a variety of age-related and other illnesses.
Today, research is ongoing to uncover even more links between grapes and heart, eye, brain, and joint health, and much more.
We invite you to explore this section for more detailed information on the intricate and intriguing correlation between eating delicious grapes and maintaining good health.
Research is ongoing to uncover just how grapes may deliver these benefits. Studies suggest that the grape polyphenols, which are also antioxidants, may help protect the health and function of our cells in multiple ways.
Current areas of research include heart, eye, brain, joint, cell health and more, which will result in a steady stream of new findings. Good science takes time, but already a solid foundation of evidence on grapes and health is in place.
Some research highlights from table grape studies are presented below:
Grapes and Heart Health
Numerous studies on grapes and grape products, including table grapes, grape juice and wine, suggest that grapes contribute to heart health1. This benefit is typically attributed to the polyphenols present in the grape. The actions of grape polyphenols are multi-faceted, and range from antioxidant activities to the influencing of cell communications that trigger important processes in the body.
Some of the ways in which grapes may help maintain heart health are:2
*Improving blood vessel function and blood flow, which can lower blood pressure
*Reducing oxidative stress and inflammation (both underlying factors in heart disease)
*Preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol
*Helping to prevent the formation of blood clots
*Improvement of blood lipids, such as triglycerides
For a look at some grape study details on heart health,
Grapes and Age-Related and Other Illnesses
Emerging research suggests that grapes may help defend against a variety of age-related and other illnesses. For example:
A grape-enriched diet prevented blindness in mice prone to developing retinal damage in old age, by protecting the retina from oxidative damage. In this study, grapes offered greater protection than lutein.3
Grape consumption protected brain neurons in gerbils from oxidative damage and cell death, and decreased inflammation.4
Mice consuming a grape-enriched diet increased the expression of critical target genes that block the Alzheimer’s pathway and decrease inflammation in the brain.5
In a series of animal studies, a grape-enriched diet helped protect bladder function against oxidative damage caused by obstruction to the bladder.6 7 8
In a recent cell study, grape extract helped to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance mediated by both immune cells and fat cells, and preserved cell function. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are both linked to chronic inflammation in fat tissue.9
In grape and heart health studies, a reduction in inflammation is frequently demonstrated.10
A grape-enriched diet prevented inflammatory damage to insulin producing cells, and thus significantly reduced the onset of autoimmune diabetes in mice.11
Grapes decreased pain associated with arthritis and enhanced the impact of anti-inflammatory medicine in an animal study.12
The role of grapes in maintaining cell health to prevent the development of cancer is another area of scientific interest, with promising, preliminary work in the areas of breast, prostate and colon cancers.13
In a small human study of colon cancer patients, grapes helped protect healthy colon tissue.14
For a look at some of the grape study details of these emerging areas of research,
8 Venugopal V, Levin RM, et al. Effect of Hydrogen Peroxide on Rabbit Urinary Bladder Citrate Synthase Activity in the Presence and Absence of a Grape Suspension. International Braz J Urol. Nov/Dec 2010, Vol. 36(6):749 – 758.
9 Overman A, McIntosh MK, et.al. Polyphenol-rich grape powder extract (GPE) attenuates inflammation in human macrophages and in human adipocytes exposed to macrophage-conditioned media. International J Obesity. January 2010:1-9.
14 Nguyen AV, Holcombe RF, et al. Results of a phase I pilot clinical trial examining the effect of plant-derived resveratrol and grape powder on Wnt pathway target gene expression in colonic mucosa and colon cancer. Cancer Manag Res. 2009:I 1-9.
As a parent, you know you have a major role to play when it comes to your child’s nutrition, especially by making healthy food choices yourself and providing those same kinds of foods for your kids. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins are the goal. The key is to find great-tasting foods that are healthy, too. The good news is that many foods, including fresh grapes, offer both of those qualities. One thing’s for sure: Kids love grapes, and that’s good news for you and your children’s health and well-being. They’re also easy to prepare or add to many dishes. What a plus!Try these easy recipes for super snacks featuring grapes. Think about adding grapes to fruit and green salads, and chicken, turkey and tuna salads, as well. Grapes are also wonderful as part of a finger-food plate that includes lean meat and cheese slices, vegetables, whole grain crackers and healthy dips.
Here are 7 Ways to Add Grapes to Your Kid’s Menu:
- Serve grapes in place of French fries or chips
- Pack grapes in your child’s lunch box for a healthy snack
- Add grapes to smoothies, popsicles and Jell-O®
- Freeze grapes for a tasty, healthy, refreshing snack
- Add grapes to salads – kids will actually eat them!
- Place halved grapes on pizza
- Serve grapes as an after-school snack