Did someone say wine? What’s the next best thing? Grapes!
Grapes belong to the oldest plants on earth, much older than the human being. Archeological finds indicate that several varieties of wild vines existed already 130 million years ago.
The exact origin is unknown. The most likely origin is from the regions around the Caspian Sea, where grapes have been cultivated when the Mesopotamian town Ur was at the peak of its development. Via the countries around the Black Sea they were eventually introduced into Greece. From here they reached France, when Greek colonists settled around Marseille in the 6th century BC. From there the Romans spread them further throughout Europe and the Spaniards took them along their explorations to the New World. Grapes arrived in South Africa in the 1650’s with the original settlement party, led by Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company.
The health benefits of grapes include their ability to treat constipation, indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, macular degeneration and the prevention of cataracts. Grapes, one of the most popular and delicious fruits, are rich sources of vitamin , vitamin C, vitamin B6 and folate in addition to essential minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Grapes contain flavonoids that are very powerful antioxidants, which can reduce the damage caused by free radicals and slow down aging. Grapes, due to their high nutrient content, play an important role in ensuring a healthy and active life.
Some of the health benefits of grapes include the following:
Asthma: Due to their well-known therapeutic value, grapes can be used as a cure for asthma. In addition to that, the hydrating power of grapes is also high, which increases the moisture present in the lungs and reduces asthmatic events.
Bone Health: Grapes are a wonderful source of micro-nutrients like copper, iron, and manganese, all of which are important in the formation and strength of the bones. Adding grapes to your diet on a regular basis can prevent the onset of age-related conditions like osteoporosis. Manganese is an extremely important element in the body, which aids in everything from protein metabolism, collagen formation, and nervous system functioning.
Heart diseases: Grapes increase the nitric oxide levels in the blood, which prevents blood clots. Therefore, grapes are an effective way to reduce the chance of heart attacks. Additionally, the antioxidants present in grapes prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which blocks the blood vessels and is a main contributor to various coronary conditions. Grapes also have high numbers of flavonoids, which are what give grapes their color, but flavonoids are also very powerful antioxidants. The two main types in grapes are resveratrol and quercetin, and these two compounds negate the effects of free radicals that threaten the body and stimulate LDL cholesterol’s harmful effects on arteries. Also, these two antioxidant flavonoids act as a clean-up crew to reduce platelet clumping and filter toxins out of the blood. This is one hard working fruit!
Migraine: Ripe grape juice is an important home remedy for curing migraines. It should be drunk early in the morning, without mixing additional water. Ironically, drinking red wine is often considered a cause of migraines, but grape juice and grape seed extract is considered a solution for the problem. There are many causes behind migraines, and it can be difficult to pinpoint the culprit, since they include chemical imbalances, lack of sleep, changes in weather, or dietary deficiencies. Alcohol in general causes migraines, but grapes have so many antioxidants that they can cause and cure the same illness!
Constipation: Grapes are very effective in overcoming and eliminating constipation. They are classified as a laxative food, because they contain organic acid, sugar and cellulose. They also relieve chronic constipation by toning up intestinal muscles and the stomach. Grapes are high in insoluble fiber, meaning that it remains intact as it moves through the digestive tract. It builds up bulk, which promotes the formation and excretion of healthy stools, so grapes can help make you much more regular. Gut health! Love it!
Indigestion: Grapes play an important role in dyspepsia. They relieve heat and cure indigestion and irritation in the stomach.
Diabetes: Recent research suggests that grape skin extract (GSE) exerts a novel inhibitory activity on hyperglycemia and may help in diabetes management.
Kidney disorders: Grapes can substantially reduce the acidity of uric acid and they also help to eliminate acid from the system, thereby reducing the stress and pressure on kidneys. Since grapes have a high water content, they induce urination, which also helps to eliminate the uric acid still present in the body after its acidity is reduced.
Blood cholesterol: Grapes contain a compound called pterostilbene, which has the capacity to lower a person’s cholesterol levels. Pterostilbene is closely related to resveratrol, the beneficial antioxidant and coloring flavonoid that is also found in grapes, and early research has shown that it has anti-cancer qualities and also has a great impact on cholesterol levels. It is also thought to have preventative powers over cognitive decline. Furthermore, the saponins present in the skin of grapes can also prevent the absorption of cholesterol by binding with it.
Antibacterial activity: Red grapes have strong antibacterial and antiviral properties that can protect you from infections. They display strong antiviral properties against the polio virus and the herpes simplex virus. Studies have also shown that grape juice can tackle bacterial infections in the gut and other systems.
Breast cancer: In a recent study, it has been discovered that purple, Concord grape juice helps in preventing breast cancer. Significant reduction in mammary tumor mass of laboratory rats was seen after they were fed grape juice in an experimental setting. The antioxidants in grapes are beneficial in the prevention of all types of cancer, but there are some fascinating studies which specifically show grape juice as an effective preventive measure against breast cancer. Certain chemicals in grapes compete for binding sites, and inhibits aromatase from changing androgen to estrogen, which is thought to be a big contributing factor to breast cancer growth in women.
Alzheimer’s disease: Resveratrol, a beneficial polyphenol present in grapes, reduces the levels of amyloidal-beta peptides in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies suggest that grapes can enhance brain health and delay the onset of degenerative neural diseases. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition claims that grape juice can even improve the brain function of older people who have already displayed mild cognitive impairment, but make sure it is 100% juice.
Macular degeneration: Grapes can prevent age-related loss of vision and macular degeneration. Research study conducted at University of Miami suggests that grape-enriched diet supports eye health and may prevent vision-threatening retinal diseases.
Wow- who new that grapes could do so much! This is one superfood that is easy to buy and easy to transport.
Look for this amazing fruit in our lunch boxes with fruit cups. We include them when possible.
Happy Healthy Eating!