A lot of people wonder if red wine can really provide health benefits or which are the top health benefits of grapes in general.
Since grapes season approaches, I thought it will be interesting to see which are the top health benefits of grapes.
Grapes were first cultivated in Europe 6,000 years ago. They got to America with the help of Franciscan monks, who used them for the purpose of making sacramental wine.
There are over 50 varieties of grapes that are cultivated as table grapes and over 60 varieties of grapes cultivated for wine making.
The nutrients contained by grapes are different from one kind to another.
Additionally, grapes also contain the following nutrients: phlobaphene, quercetine, gallic acid, silicic acid, anin, glucosides, salicilic acid, phosphoric acid, oxalic acid, pectins, tannic substances, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, A, C, P, PP, K, enzymes and folic acid.
As we can see, grapes are a great source for numerous nutrients. But this is not all…important nutrients are also contained by grapes seeds (tannic substances, lecithin, phlobaphene and fatty oil), grape skin (tannic substances and oils) and even grapes leaves (sugar, carotene, tannic substances, potassium, sodium, silicon and iron).
In 100g of grapes there are:
The main 4 health benefits of grapes are:
1. HEART DISEASES
Numerous studies have been conducted focused on the impact of grapes in preventing or slowing down heart diseases.
About 20 years ago, scientists discovered that French people had less heart related health problems than other countries all around the globe. This discovery was called the French Paradox. The main explanation for this was that French people drank red wine with their meals.
Since this discovery was made, more than 300 other studies were carried out, proving that red wine or grapes juice can reduce the risk of heart diseases in time.
It seems that grapes juice or wine block the artery clogging effects of fatty food products.
Coronary heart diseases occur when plaque accumulations build up on the walls of arteries. This can lead to a blockage of vessels supplying blood to the heart (or brain) causing heart attacks (or strokes).
Antioxidants in fresh grapes, known as polyphenols, are responsible for preventing the accumulation of oxidized cholesterol (this was proven in a study that was published in the Journal of Nutrition).
Resveratrol, a polyphenol contained by grapes, protects against arterial wall damage. Another interesting nutrient contained by grapes is pterostilbene. Researchers discovered that this compound can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides by affecting enzymes responsible with the regulation of fat level in our blood.
Other interesting compounds are saponins, located in grapes skin. These substances bind with cholesterol, preventing in this way its absorption into the body. Also, saponins seem to be able to block inflammations.
And this is not all… By drinking grapes juice we accumulate another antioxidant called alpha-tocopherol, a substance that increases blood antioxidant activity by 50%.
Referring to the selection of grapes, it seems that red grapes are the healthiest and best to eat in order to prevent heart diseases.
Another important element that has to be included in the top health benefits of grapes is the cancer fighting proprieties.
They contain high levels of caffeic acid, a very strong cancer fighting substance.
Bioflavonoids, another nutrient contained by grapes, facilitate the absorption of vitamin C into our bodies and help vitamin C maintain healthy connective tissue in our bodies. They also function as antioxidants, by protecting vitamin C from oxidation and by preventing ruptures in capillaries.
Bioflavonoids provide strength to our cells in the battle with cancerous cells and also help kill cancer cells.
The early mentioned nutrient, resveratrol, also helps in preventing cancer, especially liver, lung, breast and prostate cancer.
As for heart diseases, red grapes are best for cancer prevention.
In a study conducted at Erciyes University in Turkey, scientists discovered that grapes have an effective antimicrobial action. The study revealed that this action applies for certain bacteria, like Stoph and the famous E. coli.
Additionally, the high concentration of tannin, another polyphenol contained by grapes, can help fight viruses and tumors. Tanin is absorbed in the intestinal tract, where it is most effective in fighting viruses.
Although we have found that resveratrol has a lot of health related benefits, the list is not over yet.
As we have previously discussed, resveratrol is a natural antioxidant that can help reduce heart diseases, the risk of cancer and even brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Besides these benefits, resveratrol seems to influence genes controlling the aging process. This definitely has to be added to the list of best health benefits of grapes.
According to Harvard Medical School researchers, this substance can restrict calories intake. It activates enzymes that slow aging, thus increasing DNA stability and extending life span by 70%.
Prevention of macular degeneration is also included in the list of top health benefits of grapes. Grapes can contribute to reducing the risk of loss of eyesight (a major problem among the elderly). By increasing grapes intake we can reduce the risk of macular degeneration (the main cause of vision loss) by 30-40%.
Although it seems that grapes can have a huge positive effect on the human body, there are some RESTRICTIONS/ WARNINGS regarding their consumption. Here are some of them:
1. Neither grapes, nor grapes juice are recommended for persons suffering from stomach ulcers, diabetes and obesity;
2. Eating grapes or drinking grapes juice can cause dental problems. If you have a cavity in a tooth, it is not recommended to consume grapes, as they will intensify the destruction process of the tooth;
3. Grapes cannot be consumed along with a relatively large number of food products, like: milk, fish, beer, mineral water, melons etc. The combination of these kinds of food products with grapes can cause serious stomach problems.