Grapes: More Good Reasons to Celebrate
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Grapes have been associated with celebration for centuries, dating back to Greek and Roman cultures, and today are the leading fruit crop in the world. Why is that? Wine, of course. But even before they’ve been fermented, grapes give good reason to celebrate. They’re social, friendly, amorous fruits that deliver all sorts of nutritional and therapeutic values that can protect your heart and support your long-term well-being.
...deliver all sorts of nutritional and therapeutic values that can protect your heart and support your long-term well-being.
Therapeutic & Healing Powers:***
Much has been made of the so-called “French paradox”–the generally good heart health of the French despite a diet that is high in saturated animal fats. One of the suspected reasons behind this seeming contradiction has to do with the consumption of red wine, an obvious byproduct of the grape. So what is it about grapes that make them so special in the world of clinical nutrition?
To begin with, grapes contain a high concentration of specific polyphenols, such as the often-hyped resveratrol, that protect blood vessels from damage and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. These polyphenols are not only beneficial to the heart and overall cardio-vascular health, but they also have a protective effect against cancer. Polyphenols act as powerful antioxidants that increase your body’s resistance to aging and disease and have various anti-cancer properties. The skin of grapes is also a good source of fiber, an important nutrient for cancer prevention and overall health.
In addition, grape seed extract is rich in flavonoids, another potent antioxidant that helps protect against cancer, with the added benefit of protecting against hardening of the arteries as well! Grape seed extract is also commonly used to help treat hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and phlebitis.
Finally, it’s important to note that grapes and grape juice are often prescribed to help prevent and treat viral infections, due to their anti-viral activity. I’ve also found them to be potent cleansers of the blood and bowels, which make them a good addition to a cleansing regimen.
In addition to the phytonutrients and antioxidants mentioned above, grapes have an assortment of nutrients that support your overall wellbeing. Like other berries (yep, grapes are considered a berry), grapes are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. Grapes are also notable for their trace minerals such as copper, iron, and manganese.
Selection and Care:
Grapes do not ripen after harvesting. Shake clusters well to dislodge damaged berries. Look for fruit that is colorful, firm, and wrinkle-free.
Optimal Use and Combining:
As with all fruits, it’s best to consume grapes fresh, whole, and raw to maximize their nutritional and therapeutic values. In terms of combining grapes with other fruits to enhance taste and ensure maximum assimilation by the body, grapes combine well with peaches, pears, plums, apples, berries, and nectarines. They don’t fare quite as well with citrus, and can sometimes over-sweeten bananas and other components of fruit salad. On their own, raisins and fresh grapes make energizing snacks and enliven granola, nuts, and cereals.
Add some grapes to your nutritional program and you’ll have plenty of reasons to celebrate!
***This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any type of health condition or disease. Any nutritional considerations for any health complication should be discussed with your physician or healthcare provider.