There are many ways to enjoy grapes — simply as fresh fruits, tossed in salads, or in juice and wine forms.
But beyond tasting great, these berries that historically originate from European and Mediterranean regions are also beneficial to your overall health in many ways. Grapes are rich sources of vitamins A, C, B6 and folate as well as useful minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and selenium.
Here are five reasons grapes can do wonders for your body:
1. Nature’s Cancer Fighter
Grapes have powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which can slow down or defend against many types of esophageal, lung, mouth, pharynx, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate and colon cancers. Resveratrol, a key ingredient in the skin of red grapes and red wine, helps prevent damage to blood vessels and reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — known as the “bad” cholesterol — and prevents blood clots.
“Red wine, which contains resveratrol, is a staple in the Mediterranean Diet linked to heart health and longevity as evidenced by the Southern Italians,” said Susan Kim, MS, RDN, a clinical dietician who is part of the abdominal organ transplant program at Keck Medicine of USC. “However, it is important to remember that red wine or resveratrol is not the only component to longevity, but rather a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and managed stress levels.”
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2. Help With Blood Pressure
Thanks to their high potassium content, grapes can help people suffering from high blood pressure and counterbalance a high sodium intake. According to a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, less than 2 percent of American adults follow the daily 4,700 mg recommendation for potassium. The easiest way to meet this requirement is by eating more grapes and bananas. The high polyphenol content in grapes may also help cut the risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Cardio Booster
Eating grapes can reduce the cell’s ability to store fat. They also cause fat cells to break up into small parts at a higher rate than normal. It’s wise to include grapes as part of a weight loss regime, but remember not to overdo it since one cup of grape juice has about 15 grams of sugar. About one handful of grapes (around 80 grams) is the perfect portion. Also, remember that it’s better to eat fresh grapes instead of just drinking the juice, since the juicing process removes fiber and broad range of nutrients and turns the beverage into a concentrated source of sugar. Fruit juice can also elevate blood sugar more quickly than whole fruit.
4. A Friend of Your Skin, Hair, Teeth and Eyes
Throughout the years, studies have pointed to grapes as boosters of the overall health of eyes, teeth, skin and hair. Red wine and grape seed extract can potentially help prevent cavities. Grape seed extract is rich in vitamin E, which retains the moisture of the skin and can help make the skin healthier and smoother than before. The fruit’s resveratrol also helps fight skin acne, and the antioxidants increase the blood circulation in the scalp and encourage hair growth. Grapes are also very good for the eyes, thanks to their lutein and zeaxanthin content.
5. No More Constipation
A smart way to maintain or recover to a healthy bowel movement and fight constipation is to stick with a diet rich in foods with high water content. That includes fruits like grape, watermelon and cantaloupe. In addition to water, grapes are a great source of fiber, which is useful in keeping constipation at bay.
Ready to start eating more healthfully? Make an appointment today with a registered dietitian to discuss setting up a healthy eating plan that is best for you.
Need help finding a dietician? If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top dieticians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800–872–2273) or by visiting http://www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/.
By Ramin Zahed