Grapes: Delicious, convenient and good for you! 

Published 11:38 am Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Today, I’d like to share information on one of the most ancient of all fruits…the grape. In fact, grapes have been around for 65 million years, and have been harvested for over 8,000 years. Some of today’s grape varieties are direct descendants of the earliest grapes. The derivation of the word grape comes from an old French verb graper, which means “catch with a hook” or “pick grapes off the vine.” 

 

Even though the origin of the grape can be traced back to Eastern Mediterranean regions, today this valuable, nutritious fruit can be found in almost every area of the world. Grapes are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which makes them a great food choice. 

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Since grapes are loaded with vitamin C, they help the immune system fight against bacterial and viral infections. Vitamin C also protects neutrophils from oxidative stress during the early stages of an immune response. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that act as the immune system’s first line of defense. They also provide an antioxidant called resveratrol, which may protect against cancer by reducing inflammation and blocking the growth of cancer cells.

 

Grapes are a low sodium food, which helps keep blood pressure in a healthy range. They are also high in potassium. Low potassium intake increases the risk of elevated blood pressure.

 

The resveratrol in grapes may not only fight cancer, but has also been shown to protect against heart disease. Resveratrol is linked to a lowered risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which may decrease the risk for heart disease. 

 

The powerful fruits are also a rich source of dietary fiber. Fiber helps reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. In fact, one study of folks with high cholesterol levels demonstrated that those who ate 3 cups of grapes a day for eight weeks had lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. 

 

The powerful antioxidant resveratrol found in grapes helps reduce oxidative stress, which can have a positive effect on the brain. This may help reduce the chances of both Parkinson’s disease and  Alzheimer’s disease. Resveratrol in grapes also helps slow the aging process by affecting cell structure, while protecting cells. 

 

The vitamin K in grapes activates proteins involved in bone formation and mineralization. Grapes also supply minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which, along with enzymes, work synergistically to maintain bone health.

 

Did you know Spanish explorers introduced the grape to America 300 years ago, or that grapes are actually berries? Table grapes and wine grapes are different. Wine grapes are smaller and have thicker skins, resulting in a more concentrated taste. 

 

It takes 2.5 pounds of grapes to make one bottle of wine. The plump blue grapes known as Concord grapes get their name from Concord Massachusetts where they were developed. Raisins are grapes that have been dried, and are made from many grape varieties. 

 

By the way, grapes and raisins are highly toxic to both dogs and cats. Just one raisin or grape is enough to lead to kidney failure or death. Raisins are more toxic. Since they have been dried, the toxins are more concentrated. If your dog or cat ingested either grapes or raisins, contact your veterinarian immediately and call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. 

 

The United States is the largest table grape importer in the world, with an average of 650,000 metric tons per year. Folks in the U.S. consume, on average, 7.9 pounds of grapes per person each year. 

 

Grapes have many uses, including grape juice, jams and jellies, and raisins. Also, extract from grape seeds is utilized for medicinal purposes. Grapes come in an array of colors, including green, red, black, yellow, pink and purple. “White” grapes are actually green.

        

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at dwcrocker77@gmail.com or text 864-494-6215.