The Health Benefits of Grapes – Are Grapes a Superfood?

dark blue bunch of grapesWith so many delicious varieties of healthy fruit to choose from, which ones should we choose? One way of choosing lies in the fact that only some foods are in season at any one time, and we can boost our health by eating with the seasons.

Another may be cost. Eating organic is best for our health but can be rather expensive sometimes.

Another is to prioritise the Superfoods. These are foods that stand out. All fruits and vegetables have vitamins and minerals and other natural molecules that offer health benefits and some offer more than others.

Those foods that stand out, head and shoulders at it were in their content of nutrients are the Superfoods. You will find no particular agreement in the use of the word although many writers will produce similar lists of the foods they deem superfoods.

We can answer the question, “Are grapes a Superfood?”  by looking at the nutrients and seeing if they are especially powerful or unique in some way. And by asking ourselves, do they have any special health benefits?

So let’s look at the nutrient content in grapes and see if they are at all special. We can start with the basics – the so called macronutrients of carbohydrates, fats and protein.

The initial info for 100 gm of grapes gives us the data in the small table on the left – taken from the Wiki.

basic nutrition for grapesSo we find some energy and carbs and some fibre and a very small amount of protein but almost no fat.

Looking now at the vitamins and minerals in the second table below

Vitamin K stands out at once. This is a surprise since we associate this hugely important vitamin with greens and not grapes. And people generally need reminding to eat their greens. Not many need prompting to eat their grapes!

One of the functions of vitamin K is to tell Calcium where to go in the body and so it is a vital control for both your bone and arteries and heart. Get the Calcium in the wrong place, such as in an artery and you are in trouble. But get your Calcium in the correct place, thanks to vitamin K and you have nice strong bones and healthier arteries.

table showing vitamins and minerals in grapesMinerals next and it’s…..K again but here K stands for Potassium. Great for soothing jangled nerves, Potassium is vital in our high stress lifestyle.

Next we dive deeper and look for super nutrients. We notice 4 superstars –  lutein and zeaxanthin, anthocyanins and resveratrol – all of them a bit of a problem to pronounce!

Health Benefits of Grapes

Lutein- is a member of a huge family called the carotenoids and has been used experimentally to treat macular degeneration. Similar is zeaxanthin and when you consider how vital sight is and how poor pharmaceutical drugs perform these 2 superstars should be included in the diet and backed up with supplements too.

These superstars not only assist the retina at the back of the eye but also help to treat cataracts at the front of the eye. Seems like we should add to the advice to eat carrots for good eyesight – grapes as well.

Anthocyanins– these are another huge family of natural plant chemicals and give berries and many other fruit their distinctive colours. They also have powerful health effects shown in studies on cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s Disease amongst others.

Cancer studies have shown their effectiveness against leukemia and colon cancer. And other research has shown improvements on LDL, cholesterol and HDL levels.

Resveratrol– is one of the most discussed super nutrients. First found in grapes and wine resveratrol has many protective effects and may be responsible for the French Paradox where an apparently unhealthy high fat diet that includes red wine and therefore resveratrol seems not to shorten lifespan but to increase it.

It not only functions as an anti-oxidant but also to help stabilise blood sugar control. It improves circulation and protects your DNA against damage from free radicals.

Resveratrol is found in grapes and wine and also in peanuts and peanut butter. When buying foods for their resveratrol content please ensure you get organic produce and be aware that food values may vary according to season and variety.

Summary – the health benefits of grapes show up in the special substances like resveretrol and lutein and not in the list of vitamins and minerals.

All in all we might want to say that the evidence is that we not only have a marvellous superfood in grapes but we should add it to our diet as often as possible.

Is a grape a day going to keep the doctor away? No, to get the health benefits of grapes you’ll need to eat a bunch of grapes a day.

But a small bunch will do the job!

Photo credit wiki

 

 

Alex Newell ND

I'm Alex Newell and I am a Physicist who retrained as an Osteopath and Naturopath when my own health began to decline in my 30's. In fact I kept training and asking questions and began writing books and blogging over the last few years. The purpose of this blog, naturaldetoxblog.com is to help those with an interest in Natural Health Care to improve their health and detox and chelate industrial chemicals out of the brain and body in a safe and effective way. Please feel free to ask questions and contact me

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