Grapes or Vitis vinifera are among the fruits with most extensive therapeutic applications. They are among the most cultivated fruits in the world, with an annual production of over 50 million metric tons. Not only are these wonderful berries appreciated for their taste, but also for the health benefits that accompany them. They can be used to improve heart health, prevent cancer, fight edema, relieve constipation, and reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Botanical name: Vitis vinifera
Spanish name: Uva French name: Raisin
Grape is the fruit of the vine, Vitis vinifera, a climbing vine of the botanical family Vitaceae. Grapes grows mostly in clusters of hundreds, and can be yellow, dark blue, black, crimson, green, pink, and orange in color.
Grapes are produced in very large quantities across several continents. However, about 71% of the produced grape is used in the production of wine. The remaining 29% are consumed as fresh fruits (27%) and dried one (2%). Apart from wine, grapes can be used to make jelly, jam, juice, vinegar, raisins, and grape seed oil.
- Sugars – The sugar content in grapes tends to vary from one region to another. In cold regions, the sugar content is less, while in hot dry regions it’s much. Nevertheless, regardless of its region of cultivation, grapes sugar content is present in 15-30% of its total content. These sugars in grapes are mostly monosaccharides which compose of glucose and fructose.
- Minerals – Grapes contain potassium and iron in reasonable amounts. Other minerals also present in significant quantities in grapes are phosphorus, copper, and calcium.
- Vitamins – Apart from B-group vitamins, grapes also contains vitamin C and provitamin A in significant amounts.
- Fiber – Grapes also contain reasonable amount of fiber in the form of pectin.
- Flavonoids – The flavonoids present in grapes help prevent the formation of blood cloth in the arteries. As a powerful antioxidant, it helps stops the oxidation of cholesterol, which can lead to arteriosclerosis.
- Organic acids – The effect of these acids in the blood when consumed produces alkalinization. This process helps facilitate the elimination of metabolic waste products which includes uric acid.
- Anthocyanidines – These vegetable pigments are powerful antioxidants that help 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.
7 Proven Benefits and uses of grapes
- Improves heart health
- Prevents cancer
- Fights thrombosis
- Prevents intestinal disorders
- Fights excess uric acid and gout
- A great antibacterial
- Reduces the risk for Alzheimer’s disease
Improves heart health
The non-nutritive substances in grapes, mainly resveratrol and flavonoids, produce beneficial effects on circulation, and the coronary arteries in particular. Some of their benefits to the arteries include:
- The act as great vasodilators, thus, fighting arterial spasms and increasing blood flow.
- Flavonoids impede the oxidation of cholesterol which causes arteriosclerosis.
- Flavonoids can also reduce the tendency of blood platelets to clot in the arteries, which reduces the risk for arteriosclerosis.
The consumption of grapes may be very beneficial in cases cardiovascular diseases in general. This is because grapes contain significant amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are all involved in cardiac contractions. Another solid reason is because they contain virtually no sodium and saturated fats, the two most antagonistic substances to the cardiovascular system. Moreover, grapes provides energy in the form of simple sugars, which the heart makes use of during contraction.
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. A research published in the Journal of Nutrition evaluated the anticancer potential of grapes and its seed. You can read it here
Thus, the regular consumption of grapes can be of great benefit to cancer patients, those at its risk, or those willing to prevent it.
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.
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. The significant content of fiber in grapes, about 1% of its total content has a lot of benefits. It can account for an improved peristaltic action of the gut, and also stimulate the production of digestive enzymes which are all essential to a healthy digestive system.
Excess uric acid and Gout
From the properties of grapes above, we have seen that it has a strong alkalizing and diuretic effect. Due to this, they are effective in eliminating uric acids from the kidney. Therefore, its consumption in moderated amounts can be of great benefit for those with a diet rich in animal proteins, the obese, and particularly those with arthritis.
A recent study has found grape seeds to have great antibacterial properties (1). This antibacterial activity of grapes can help protect you from bacterial and even viral infections.
A study has found the consumption of grapes to have beneficial effects in reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease (2). In the study, grape juice consumption was able to improve memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Moreover, resveratrol found in grapes, helps reduce the levels of amyloidal-beta peptides in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.