Grapes are a versatile berry. It is used to make raisins, jelly and wine. It contains many beneficial substances, including antioxidants. It is also known that grapes contain a lot of resveratrol, a substance that has beneficial properties for the heart.
What is known about grapes today
Grapes are a perennial plant belonging to the Vitis family. Each berry consists of a translucent pulp and a smooth skin. Some varieties contain seeds. The presence of polyphenolic compounds determines the color of the berries. Reds and blues are rich in anthocyanins, while greens contain more tannins, in particular catechins.
Every year, more than 70 million tons of berries are harvested in the world, which is much more than bananas, oranges or apples. And only 12% of this number goes to table needs (eating raw, making raisins). Most of the world's annual harvest is turned into wine.
Today they talk about the existence of several thousand varieties of grapes. They can be of different sizes, flavors and colors. There are red, blue, black, purple, green, pink and yellow varieties. They are all equally beneficial, although blue and red grapes contain slightly more flavonoids and phytonutrients.
Some researchers say that viticulture is as old as civilization. Archaeologists find evidence that this culture was cultivated by people as early as 6500 BC. In particular, in the territories that now belong to Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia. Grapes and wine from it played an important role in the culture of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Already in ancient times, people knew about the existence of more than 90 varieties of grapes. Several of them were also known to the ancient civilizations that inhabited North and South America.
Grapes are rich in phytonutrients, including polyphenols, resveratrol and carotenoids. Phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants that provide many benefits to a plant-based person.
Most antioxidants and nutrients are concentrated in the skin and seeds of grapes, and the pulp contains no more than 5% of the total beneficial composition. Grapes are also an excellent source of B vitamins, K, copper. These berries contain fiber and relatively few calories.
|Vitamin B1||0.09 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.08 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.21 mg|
|Vitamin B5||0.08 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin B9||1.2 mcg|
|Vitamin A||66 IU|
|Vitamin C||11 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.21 mg|
|Vitamin K||14.6 mcg|
Benefits for the body
Most of the polyphenols found in grapes are flavonoids, which work as antioxidants in the body. This means that they prevent free radicals from attacking healthy cells. After all, it is free radicals that are the substances that contribute to the degeneration of cells and the development of cancer.
According to biologists, grapes contain hundreds of different antioxidant substances. Including vitamin C, manganese, beta-carotene and resveratrol. These antioxidants have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect, thanks to which grapes are useful for the prevention of many diseases.
Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet. In 2009, scientists conducted a study, the results of which confirmed that polyphenols from grapes reduce the level of cholesterol, reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, and also have a beneficial effect on the heart muscle. It is in polyphenols that scientists believe that the secret of the so-called French paradox lies. It consists in the fact that the inhabitants of France, who often consume red wine, live longer than others, while they can smoke and eat a lot of fatty foods. Researchers say that resveratrol, getting into the body from grapes, strengthens blood vessels, and, if necessary, relaxes their walls, preventing pressure buildup.
Flavonoids, which are part of the chemical composition of berries, prevent the formation of blood clots. Of particular importance to humans is a flavonoid called rutin, found in grapes. This substance prevents the formation of blood clots in the vessels, which protects against a possible stroke or heart attack.
Berries also contain fiber, which can lower cholesterol levels and prevent cardiac disorders.
Another healthy heart-health component of these sunny berries is vitamin K. One medium-sized bunch contains almost a quarter of the daily value of a vitamin that, according to experts, reduces the risk of heart disease. Scientists also claim that this vitamin prevents calcification of blood vessels. Well, do not forget that vitamin K is one of the main factors that ensure proper blood clotting. Vitamin deficiency is fraught with internal hemorrhages.
For almost 20 years, a group of scientists observed participants in the experiment, who consumed fruits and berries in varying amounts, in particular apples, grapes and blueberries. It turned out that people whose diet contains grapes in significant portions are less prone to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But such protection does not work if juices from them are used instead of fruits. Scientists have suggested that the main protective factor is contained in the skin of grapes, and this is already known to us resveratrol. This substance also improves insulin sensitivity.
While many people forego grapes while on a weight loss diet, recent studies have shown this practice to be wrong. Berries, especially dark varieties, on the contrary, contribute to weight loss. Experience has shown that regular consumption of these fruits reduces the body's ability to store fat by 130%. In addition, grapes almost 2 times accelerates the process of splitting fats. Scientists say that all this is again due to the amazing abilities of resveratrol.
Benefits for the digestive system
Grapes contain fiber, which is known to be able to greatly improve the digestion process. And although a serving of berries contains no more than 5% of the daily requirement of fiber, but for a berry this is a rather high figure. Dietary fiber is indispensable for humans, if only because it activates the proper functioning of the intestines, and also prevents the risk of hemorrhoids and diverticulitis.
Food for long-livers
Grapes, especially Muscat varieties, contain substances that not only slow down the aging process, but activate the gene responsible for longevity. Is that why there are so many old-timers in countries with an ancient tradition of viticulture? Whatever it was, but scientists attributed grapes to products that prolong life.
Benefits for the brain
British scientists recently observed elderly people who had memory problems. It turned out that after introducing a glass of grape juice into their daily diet, their brain performance increased significantly. Another study showed that this berry improves learning ability by increasing blood flow to brain cells by almost 200 percent.
Medicine for migraine
Grape juice is considered a medicine for migraine. To get rid of an obsessive headache, it is advised to drink a little fresh juice diluted with water every morning. To some, this recommendation may seem strange, since the wine from this berry, on the contrary, is a common cause of headaches. Meanwhile, the juice has the opposite properties and treats migraines.
Protection against cancer
Grapes and grape products are rich sources of anti-cancer substances.
Laboratory studies have proven the effectiveness of berries against malignant tumors in the tissues of the breast, prostate and colon. The results of many studies confirm that resveratrol inhibits the growth of cancer cells in the breast. Scientists have discovered a substance in grape seeds that is effective against prostate cancer. Another study demonstrated the benefits of grapes in preventing skin cancer by creating a protective barrier against UV radiation.
Vitamin K (the one responsible for blood clotting) is also good for bone tissue. It strengthens the bones, preventing the tendency to break. Scientists have calculated that if you take 110 micrograms of vitamin K daily, the risk of hip fractures is reduced by 30%. This information should be of interest to women after menopause, who are more prone to osteoporosis and bone thinning. Vitamin K is also involved in the process of bone mineralization and maintains calcium balance in the body. Other components of grapes that are good for bones include copper. This mineral is important for the synthesis of several beneficial components, which also helps prevent bone loss.
Other benefits of grapes:
- good for asthma;
- is a mild laxative;
- relieves depression;
- treats fatigue;
- important for people with kidney failure (reduces uric acid concentration, which reduces pressure on the kidneys);
- has antibacterial and antiviral properties;
- useful as a prophylaxis for Alzheimer's disease;
- strengthens the immune system.
This ancient plant has found its application in folk medicine. In addition, folk healers at all times used not only berries, but also grape leaves.
A decoction of the leaves has been used to treat sore throats, laryngitis, periodontal disease, skin diseases and ulcers. For the preparation of such a medicine, it is advised to use May leaves. Metabolic disorders were treated with a decoction prepared from 1 tablespoon of dried leaves and a glass of boiling water, and a decoction of the seeds was used as a diuretic. Fresh juice of grape leaves will help in the treatment of dysentery, bleeding and vomiting.
And in our time, treatment with the help of grapes has formed into a separate science, which has already been given a name - ampelotherapy. Supporters of this trend believe that if you eat grapes on an empty stomach every day for 2 months (the amount is determined individually), you can get rid of almost any disease.
Use in cosmetology
Antioxidants contained in grapes protect the skin from aging, increase its elasticity and firmness, smooth wrinkles, restore healthy color faces, even tone. Vitamin E provides healthy hydration to the epidermis. For this reason, grape extract is often added to skin care products. Vitamin C also has a beneficial effect on the skin, which rejuvenates and protects against harmful solar radiation.
The benefits of grapes are also felt by the hair. This berry, or rather the oil from its seeds, improves blood circulation, thereby promoting the rapid growth of healthy hair, gives them shine, and relieves the skin of dandruff, excessive dryness and itching.
Cosmetologists advise applying masks of grape pulp to the skin of the face and hair at every opportunity.
Potential Side Effects
Researchers say the healthiest grapes are the ones with the skin on. But at the same time, the peel absorbs the pesticides that were used to process the vineyards. For this reason, it is important to wash the berries thoroughly before consuming.
This berry should not be abused by people taking beta-blockers (prescribed for cardiovascular diseases), as hyperkalemia can occur, which is highly undesirable for the kidneys.
How to choose and store properly
Nowadays, fresh grapes are available throughout the year. Berries should be juicy, they should not have wrinkled or damaged peel. The quality of the product is indicated by berries tightly attached to a fresh green branch. If the berries crumble, it is better not to take such a product. A yellowish tint indicates the ripeness of green varieties. Reds should be pinkish red, while purples and blue-blacks should have a deep rich color.
Since grapes spoil quickly and are prone to fermentation at room temperature, it is best to store the berries in the refrigerator in a paper bag to keep them fresh.
Grapes are considered by many to be the king of fruits, and the nutritional properties of these tiny berries have been known to mankind since time immemorial. The combination of juicy texture and pleasantly sweet taste has made grapes a favorite snack food all over the world.