New York: Grapes come in different colors and forms. There are red, green, and purple grapes, seedless grapes, grape jelly, grape jam and grape juice, raisins, currents, and sultanas, not to mention wine.
Up to 8,000 years ago, people first cultivated grape vines in what is now the Middle East.
Today, 72 million tons of grapes are grown each year worldwide, mostly to produce wine. Every year, 7.2 trillion gallons of wine are produced. Grapes are also a popular finger food.
The nutrients in grapes offer a number of possible health benefits. They have been associated with prevention of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and constipation.
Fast facts about grapes
The nutrients in grapes may help protect against cancer, eye problems, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions.
Resveratrol is a key nutrient in grapes that may offer health benefits.
Grapes are a good source of fiber, potassium, and a range of vitamins and other minerals.
Grapes are suitable for people with diabetes, as long as they are accounted for in the diet plan.
Grapes, and especially red grapes, contain resveratrol, a compound that may have various health benefits.
A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of various conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols. These are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. One of these is resveratrol. It is found in the skins of red grapes.
Laboratory studies have suggested that resveratrol may be able to slow or prevent the growth of tumors in lymph, liver, stomach, breast, colon, skin cancer, and leukemia.
Resveratrol is also present in red wine. Few studies have looked at the association between red wine and cancer risk in humans, but it has been shown that high intakes of alcohol on a consistent basis can increase the risk of cancer. Moderation is key.
2) Heart health
Animal studies have indicated that quercetin and resveratrol may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.
These studies have mostly used doses of these flavonoids far higher than those usually consumed by humans.
The polyphenols in grapes, such as resveratrol, are thought to have antioxidant, lipid-lowering, and anti-inflammatory actions that may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). They may achieve this by preventing platelet build-up and reducing blood pressure and the risk of irregular heart rhythms.
Grapes contain fiber and potassium, both of which support heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends increasing potassium intake while decreasing sodium consumption to improve blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
3) Blood pressure
Increasing potassium intake may help reduce the negative effects of too much sodium in the diet.
Grapes have a high potassium content. This suggests they can help reduce the effects of sodium in people with high blood pressure.
Fiber is important for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, including heart health and blood pressure. Grapes are a good source of fiber.
Grapes contain water and fiber. These can help people stay hydrated, keep bowel movements regular, and reduce the risk of constipation.
Because of the anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin, some suggest that consuming grapes may help to alleviate symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, and hives. However, no human studies have been done to prove this theory.
In 2013, results of a study published in the BMJ suggested that certain fruits, but not juices, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults. During the study, which involved 187,382 participants and lasted 22 years, 6.5 percent of the participants developed diabetes.—AFP
However, those who consumed three servings a week of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples, or pears had a 7-percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared with those who did not.
The relatively high level of sugar found in grapes leads some people to ask whether they are safe for people with diabetes to eat.
The American Diabetes Association encourages people to consume grapes and other fruits, as long as the carbohydrate amount is counted as part of their meal plan.
The vitamins, minerals, and fiber in grapes make them a healthful way to satisfy a sweet tooth.
7) Diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy
Some studies have indicated that resveratrol may protect against diabetic neuropathy, which affects nerve function. Scientists believe this may be due to the neuroprotective effects of this compound.
Animal studies have indicated that resveratrol may also protect against retinopathy, which can severely affect vision.
Diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy can result when diabetes is poorly controlled.
8) Eye health
Grapes contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help maintain eye health. They are thought to neutralize unstable molecules known as free radicals. In this way, they may reduce oxidative stress and damage to the retina, and help prevent cataracts and other conditions.
Laboratory tests have suggested that resveratrol may protect against various eye problems, including age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract, and others.
However, it remains unclear exactly how it works, and how it might be beneficial to humans.
Results of an in vitro study published in the journal Dermatology and Therapy claims that resveratrol could help treat acne, especially if used with benzoyl peroxide as a topical treatment.
10) Other conditions
Other health issues that resveratrol may help with include:
blood glucose control
boosting the immune system
However, some studies have questioned whether resveratrol can benefit humans in these ways. More evidence is needed.