Grapes are a traditional gift for the sick, especially when it comes to hospital visits. As it happens, there are some very good reasons to believe that a grape can be beneficial to a person’s body. They are linked to heart health in a number of fascinating ways, and also have a connection with how we age. Consider the following motivations to start snacking on grapes or drinking grape juice.
1) They are good for the lungs:
A grape contains resveratrol, which reduces inflammation in the cells of the nasal passages and lungs by inhibiting the release of compounds that cause inflammation. This is the same way that many anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen) work to combat inflammation. Some of the drugs that have this mechanism of action are associated with a dangerous increase in the risk of heart attack, but the resveratrol in grapes does not carry this risk.
2) They have antibacterial and antiviral properties:
Grapes contain a polyphenol called tannin, which gets absorbed by our intestinal tracts and can fight viral infections in that area (as well as tumors). Red grapes are also particularly good at protecting the body against bacterial infections. More specifically, mixing grape seeds with grape skins and stems creates a potent antimicrobial agent that is capable of effectively fighting the dangerous bacteria sometimes found in food (such as E. coli). Interestingly, red wine is actually superior to antibiotics in the sense that it is capable of stopping the spread of these pathogens without also getting rid of the body’s ‘friendly’ probiotic bacteria.
3) They help to prevent and fight certain kinds of cancer:
A grape contains anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, both of which help to prevent cancer by inhibiting the diffusion of chemicals that can cause different forms of the disease. Meanwhile, the resveratrol in grapes appears to be particularly good at suppressing the growth of lung, breast, colorectal, liver and prostate cancers. In addition, the bioflavonoids found in grapes help you to absorb plenty of vitamin C and also help to make cells stronger (aiding your body in any fight against cancer). When it comes to the benefits related to cancer, red grapes are a better choice than white grapes.
4) They may slow the aging process:
Studies show that the resveratrol in grapes is capable of activating a specific enzyme that can slow aging and extend the lifespans of animals that also have a calorie-restricted diet. This discovery warrants much more research and exploration, but at the moment it is tentatively advised that eating grapes and occasionally drinking red wine may be beneficial for our bodies in a similar way.
5) They help to protect the heart:
There are many different ways in which grapes can help to improve heart health. Firstly, they contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which stop ‘bad’ cholesterol from oxidizing. This, in turn, reduces the chance that this cholesterol will block blood vessels, and so those who eat grapes have a lower risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Secondly, eating grapes raises the levels of nitric oxide in the blood, which discourages the formation of unwanted blood clots. Thirdly, the saponins in grape skins bind with cholesterol and thereby prevent the body from absorbing that cholesterol. It is also thought that eating a grape can help to keep blood pressure at a healthy level, or even reduce it if it is high. Red grapes are considered to be especially good for heart health.
6) They help to regulate blood sugar:
Grapes have a low glycemic index, and this means that they are safe to eat for people who have difficulties keeping their blood sugar levels under control. They also regulate insulin and increase sensitivity to insulin. It is speculated that these particular benefits come from the phytonutrients in a grape.
7) They may help to alleviate migraine symptoms:
Certain migraine sufferers swear that ripe grape juice helps to cure their headaches. If you suffer from migraines, if is worth investigating whether grinding fresh grapes and drinking the juice will help to dull your pain in any way.
8. They improve (and help to maintain) cognitive function:
Recent studies suggest that resveratrol appears to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, further research supports the claim that it can enhance brain function in sufferers of other degenerative neurological diseases.
9) They boost our energy levels:
White grapes are capable of preventing or relieving feelings of fatigue by giving the body more iron. It is important to note, however, that current research suggests that a red grape might indeed have the opposite influence.
10) They improve eye health:
As our eyes age, we often lose vision or develop macular degeneration. Grapes contain flavonoids, which can help to slow the development of eye diseases and lower the risk of developing macular degeneration by up to 40%.
As is obvious from the above health benefits, grapes are an excellent choice if you want to increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables. However, it is worth noting that grapes and grape juice are not recommended for those who suffer from diabetes, clinical obesity, or stomach ulcers.