Grapes are among the fruits with extensive therapeutic applications and medicinal values, which makes them the second most cultivated fruit in the world after orange. Below, its properties and health benefits / medicinal uses are discussed.
Botanical name: Vitis vinifera L.
Spanish name: Uva French name: Raisin
Grape is the fruit of the vine, Vitis vinifera L., a climbing vine of the botanical family Vitaceae. Grapes as an aggregate fruit grows mostly in clusters of hundreds.
Even though grapes are the second most cultivated fruit in the world, only a small percentage of the fruit is consumed as fruit by people, since most of the produced fruit is used in making alcoholic beverages.
Properties of Grapes
Grape is a highly gifted fruit in terms of nutrients, below are some of its component.
▪ Sugars – The sugar content in grapes tends to vary from one region to another. In cold regions, the sugar content in grapes is less, while in hot dry regions its much. Nevertheless, regardless of its region of cultivation, grapes sugar content is present in 15-30% of its total content.
The sugars in grapes are mostly mono-saccharides which compose of glucose and fructose.
▪ Minerals – Grapes contain potassium and iron in high amounts. Other minerals also present in significant quantities in grapes are phosphorus, copper, and calcium.
▪ Vitamins – Grapes are well known for their richness in B complex vitamins. They are among the richest fruits in B complex vitamins. Apart from, B complex complex vitamins, it also contains vitamin C and provitamin A in significant amounts.
▪ Fiber – Grapes also contain reasonable amount of fiber in the form of pectin.
Grapes contain many substances which cannot be classified as nutrients. These substances are usually responsible for some of grapes medicinal properties, and are known as Phytochemicals.
Grapes contains the following:
▪ Flavonoids – The flavonoids present in grapes helps prevent the formation of blood cloth in the arteries. As a powerful antioxidant, it helps stops the oxidation of cholesterol which in turn causes Arteriosclerosis.
▪ Organic acids – The effect of these acids in the blood when consumed produces alkalinization. Alkalinization helps of the urine and blood helps facilitate the elimination of metabolic waste products which includes uric acid.
▪ Anthocyanidines – These vegetable pigments are powerful antioxidants that helps prevent coronary heart disease. They are mostly found in the skin of black or white grapes.
▪ Resveratrol – Acts as a powerful anticarcinogen (cancer preventing), and also helps stops the continuation of arteriosclerosis.
Health benefits / medicinal uses of Grapes
The several effects of grapes such as its laxative effect, diuretic, anti-anemic, anti-toxic, and anti-carcinogenic effect of grapes accounts for most of its medicinal uses. Below are some of its indications:
▪ Coronary artery disease
The non-nutritive substances in grapes, mainly resveratrol and flavonoids, produces healthful and beneficial effects on circulation, and the coronary arteries in particular. Below are some benefits to the arteries:
* Through vasodilatation, thus, arterial spasms and increasing blood flow.
* As we have seen in the properties of grapes, the non-nutritive substance, flavonoid, impedes the oxidation of cholesterol which causes arteriosclerosis. * There is a reduction in tendacy of blood platelets to form clots as seen above from the property of flavonoids. This also reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis.
Grapes has been proved to improve blood flow without forming clots, and stop the deposition of cholesterol on arterial walls. It is also capable of dilating the arteries.
▪ All cardiovascular disease
The consumption of grapes is highly recommended for cardiovascular diseases in general. This is because grapes are rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are involved in cardiac contractions. Another solid reason is because they contain virtually no sodium or saturated fats, the two most antagonistic substances to the cardiovascular system. Moreover, grapes provides energy in the form of simple sugars that the heart uses to contract.
Grapes are among the richest fresh fruit source of iron, providing about 0.26 mg/100g. The iron present in grapes is nonheme, and its difficult to absorb. However, the iron in grapes is absorbed efficiently due to the presence of vitamin C in grapes as with other plant-based foods. The vitamin C facilitates the absorption of the nonheme iron present in grapes.
Therefore, the consumption of grapes is highly recommended in cases of anemia caused by iron deficiency. Its anemics will definitely notice improvements upon the regular consumption of grapes.
▪ Cancerous disorders
As we have seen above from the properties of grapes, the presence of a non-nutritive substance known as resveratrol gives grapes a powerful anti-carcinogenic effect. Many experiments carried out, have proved the cancer preventing property of grapes. Thus, the regular consumption of grapes can be of great benefit to cancer patients, those at its risk, or those willing to prevent cancer.
It is a fact that thrombosis as a deadly disorder causes stroke or heart attack. Thrombosis occurs when clots of blood are formed within the blood vessels, and thereby obstructing the free flow of blood within blood vessels. As we have seen above in the properties of grapes, the presence of flavonoids in it helps prevents the formation of blood clots in the arteries which is the main cause of thrombosis. Therefore, the regular consumption of grapes is also of great benefits for those willing to avoid thrombosis particularly those who have suffered from stroke or at risk of stroke.
▪ Intestinal disorders
Grapes are a great food for the intestine. They help balance intestinal flora, and also avoid putrefaction caused by a diet rich in animal proteins. Grapes also due to its mild laxative effect, relieves chronic constipation.
▪ Excess uric acid and Gout
From the properties of grapes above, we have seen that it has a strong alkalizing and diuretic effects. Due to this, they are effective in eliminating uric acids from the kidney. Therefore, the regular consumption of grapes is of great benefits for those with a diet rich in animal proteins, the obese, and particularly those with arthritis.
▪ Liver disorders
Due to the facilitation of blood circulation in the portal system by grapes, they become beneficial in cases of ascites and cirrhosis. Grapes also help in stimulating the detoxifying effect of the liver.
▪ Renal disorders
The consumption of grapes is recommended in cases of renal failure caused by nephritis or nephrosis. This is due to their decongestive action and diuretic effect.