Properties and Benefits of Grapes: You know fall is on its way when lengthy clusters of grapes start putting on beautiful, rich shades of yellow, pink and deep purple. The sweethearts of the season, grapes, make an incredibly delicious and nutritious meal. In addition to supplying us with a variety of vitamins and minerals, grapes boast innumerable health benefits. Grapes promote cardiovascular health, protect against cancer, bacterial infections and even stop the aging process due to their high antioxidant content.
Anthocyanins, resveratrol and other potent natural compounds greatly contribute to the amazing health benefits of grapes. Grapes are the small, round or slightly oval fruit of grapevines. They grow in clusters or bunches which hang from strong climbing vines. Grape varieties vary in color immensely: their color may range from green and light yellow to pink, purple-red, deep purple and even dark blue.
Very important: each color is indicative of special natural pigments with great positive impact on human health. For example, anthocyanins are responsible for the red, blue and purple colors in many varieties. Anthocyanins are natural plant pigments with powerful antioxidant effects and are found in generous amounts in fruits such as red raspberries, redcurrant, plums, blueberries, blackberries and grapes.
Anthocyanins are said to scavenge free radicals and prevent cell damage and related diseases. Eating anthocyanin-rich foods, grapes included, can protect against cancer and prevent premature aging. While purple grapes have the highest concentration of anthocyanins, white grapes lack this natural pigment entirely. Interesting enough, white grapes have evolved from purple ones.
Grapes are also a great source of resveratrol, a polyphenol which stimulates the production of vasodilator hormones and decreases the production of angiotensin, vasoconstriction hormone. Because the concentration of resveratrol is significantly higher, a regular, yet moderate consumption of red wine is generally recommended.
Resveratrol is generously found in the grape skin as well as grape seeds and protects against cardiovascular disease. While purple grapes are rich in resveratrol, the green varieties, commonly known as white grapes, contain much higher quantities of catechin, another polyphenol with potent antioxidant properties
Resveratrol, anthocyanins, tannins and catechin can all be found in grapes in rather generous amounts. These polyphenols have powerful antioxidant effects and are believed to stop the aging process and prevent age-related diseases, including heart failure. In addition to this, resveratrol has been shown to activate 3 special genes related to longevity.
Because of their high antioxidant content, grapes can simply keep us looking young and beautiful. If you are opposed to drinking alcohol, which you should be, you can always choose a glass of refreshing grape juice. Not only it will satisfy your thirst, but you will also get an incredibly delicious mix of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
Grapes contain small amounts of almost all the important vitamins and minerals: B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, copper, iron and manganese, two of which are known for their antioxidant properties. In addition to this, grape seed extracts are widely used for skincare products ranging from lotions to cleansing products and toners.
Interesting fact: in rural areas, people tie a small glass bottle to cut grapevines and let grapevine sap to slowly drip inside. Grapevine sap is used as a traditional medicine for a wide variety of skin and eye problems, such as eyesores. For instance, people would drip one or two drops of sap into the eye every morning and evening to help cure eyesores. And it apparently worked!
This herbal practice is supported by scientific evidence: apparently, grapevine sap contains viniferin, a resveratrol based compound. Viniferin has powerful anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antioxidant properties, hence its curative properties. Grapevine sap can be kept at room temperature in a dark chamber till the following spring.
In addition to this, grapevine sap is traditionally used to treat bladder infections (cystitis) and biliary dyskinesia (the returining of the bile to the gallbladder). Also, crushed grape leaves are believed to help treat sunburns and even relieve headaches.
Overall, grapes are one of the healthiest fruits available on the market, if grown naturally, without pesticides and other poisons. Regular consumption of fresh grapes or grape juice, even wine can support cardiovascular health, reduce cholesterol levels, prevent vasoconstriction, premature aging and even cancer. As a health tip, try eating the whole grape because the highest concentration of phytochemicals is found in the skin and seeds.