Health benefits of grapes
Grapes are some of the most favourite fruits around the world due to their texture, taste, flavour, portability, and variety. As nutritious fruits, grapes contain many nutrients that are essential for human health. Their seeds have many health benefits too. Some of the benefits of grapes include the ability to cure fatigue, constipation, and indigestion. Although many people associate grapes with winemaking, you can eat them as fresh or dried fruits.
Grapes in Kenya are grown in semi-arid areas like Naivasha. These areas provide a dry and warm climate that suits growing grapes and water is provided through irrigation. For the best yield, it is important to grow these fruits in sloping terrain since water logging can destroy the roots. Note that the growing conditions of this fruit may vary depending on the grape variety. It is also worth noting that grapes in Swahili are known as Zabibu.
In this article, you will learn more about the nutrients and the health benefits derived from eating grapes.
Nutrients in grapes
As a versatile fruit, grapes have many antioxidants and nutrients. It has high amounts of a phytonutrient called resveratrol, which helps to maintain a healthy heart. Other phytonutrients in this fruit include carotenoids, polyphenols, and phenols.
There are several essential nutrients and vitamins available in grapes that are crucial to the care and health of the body. These include:
Grapes are a rich source of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays the role of helping the blood to clot well. The body also needs this vitamin to prevent heart diseases and build strong bones.
Grapes also contain Vitamin C which is essential for a healthy body. The function of Vitamin C is to help repair and grow all body tissues. The vitamin also helps to heal wounds and cuts. By taking Vitamin C every day through the grapes, you will ensure the health of your teeth and gums.
Polyphenols are compounds or micronutrients in plants that help to prevent degenerative diseases. An example of a polyphenol in grapes is resveratrol. The skin of black, red, and green grapes contains trace elements of this micronutrient. Studies show resveratrol has many antioxidant properties. It helps to protect the body against damage which can put a person at risk of heart disease or cancer. Polyphenols from grapes have been found to provide numerous benefits.
Grapes contain small amounts of fibre, whether chopped or whole. As part of your healthy diet, dietary fibre works in the body to reduce the levels of blood cholesterol. Reducing blood cholesterol helps to lower the risks of heart attacks or heart diseases. Note that most fruit juices have small to no amounts of fibre.
Also known as riboflavin, Vitamin B2 is essential for healthy metabolism. It is also a vitamin that helps to maintain body tissues. Vitamin B2 can break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and control energy supply in the body.
Deficiency of Vitamin B2 can cause many ailments including skin rash, fatigue and weakness, anaemia, vision problems, and cracking and dryness of the skin. Eating 100g of grapes will give you about 0.07mg of Vitamin B2.
Copper is an essential micronutrient that plays many roles in various body systems. It is available in the liver, kidneys, skeletal muscles, heart, and brain. It helps to build healthy tissues, produce energy in cells, and maintain blood volume. Copper also works with iron in the body to enable the formation of red blood cells. It also helps the body to absorb iron and produce collagen.
Although copper deficiency is rare, lack of it can lead to many health problems including cardiovascular disease. One cup of grapes contains about 0.192 milligrams of copper, which is 10% of the daily requirement in men and women.
In addition to the above nutrients, grapes have other essential minerals like zinc, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium. A100g of grapes will give you 0.72g of protein, 5.6mg choline, 0.19mg Vitamin E, 15.48g of sugars, and 18.1g of carbohydrates.
Grapes also have all the major B vitamins. These vitamins in grapes include:
Thiamine (B1) – Maintains appetite and growth, and prevents beriberi
Niacin (B3) – Ensures normal function of the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system
Pantothenic Acid (B5) – Oxidizes carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids
Vitamin B6 – Essential for the metabolism of starch and amino acids
Folate (B9) – Necessary for cell growth and reproduction
Although these nutrients are available in grapes in small quantities, the body needs them for nutrition, growth, and metabolic functions.
Health benefits of grapes
The nutrients in grapes play essential roles in ensuring your health. Here are a few health benefits of eating red grapes and other grape varieties.
1. Good for heart health
Grapes have Polyphenols which support a healthy heart. The Polyphenols increase good cholesterol levels in the body and decrease inflammation. The micronutrient also helps to reduce atherosclerosis by enabling anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities in the body.
The fibre content in grapes helps to prevent cardiovascular disease and lower cholesterol. Apart from fibre, flavonoids in grapes help to reduce high cholesterol and protect the heart from blood clots.
Rutin, a flavonoid in grapes, functions as an inhibitor in the body to proteins that cause clots. As a result, this can lead to reduced risks of stroke and heart attack.
2. Offer relief from inflammation and pain
Taking grapes on a daily basis has the benefit of administering relief from pain. The high antioxidant levels in grapes can relieve pain triggered by symptomatic osteoarthritis. Also, the leaves of a grape plant have vitamin K, beta-carotene and Polyphenols which happen to offer remedy from inflammation and pain.
3. Enhance brain power
The resveratrol in grapes helps to increase the flow of blood to the brain. By doing so, it helps to enhance mental responses. Research also shows that resveratrol can help to boost the brain power of people suffering from ailments such as Alzheimer’s. Other studies also suggest the phenol can help to remove free radicals and plaques, which tend to affect the brain.
4. Promote digestion
The fibre content in grapes can help to promote smooth digestion. Although 100 grams of grapes only contain about 0.9 grams of dietary fibre, combining the fruit with other foods high in fibre content can make a difference in your colorectal and regularity health. Also, foods rich in fibre can help to reduce diverticulitis (inflammation of the colon) and haemorrhoids.
5. Promote strong bones
Grapes have Vitamin K which plays a role in preventing fractures or breaks in bones and keeping bones healthy. Including grapes in your diet is important in the formation and strengthening of bones. When you consume 110mg of Vitamin K every day, you will decrease your chances of breaking your hip. Vitamin K also helps to increase the effectiveness of a protein called osteocalcin which promotes a healthy balance of calcium and plays a role in bone mineralisation.
6. Reduce constipation
Grapes have fibre and water. About 80% of the fruit is water. Both fibre and water help to hydrate the body and regulate bowel movements. By taking grapes every day, this can help you to reduce constipation.
Fibre helps to ensure water remains in the stool, thus making waste larger, softer, and hence easier to travel through the intestines. It also adds bulk to faecal material, which helps to speed up its passage through the gut and prevent constipation.
7. Maintain water balance
One of the many essential minerals in grapes is potassium. There is about 196mg of potassium in 100g of the fruit. The amount accounts for four per cent of the required daily intake of potassium.
Due to the high potassium content, grapes help to maintain the body’s electrolyte balance and flush out toxins and excess water. Grapes also maintain water balance because of their low sodium content.
8. Hydrate the body
Due to the high water content in grapes, the fruit helps to hydrate the body. Hydration is essential because it helps to improve the appearance of the skin, regeneration of cells, promote overall health.
Enough water in the body can also help to prevent dryness of the mouth, promote cardiovascular health, help muscles and joints to work better, cleanse the body, and keep the body fresh.
9. Powerhouse of antioxidants
While grapes generally have many antioxidants, it is the grape seed extract that has been drawing people’s attention for years. Some evidence suggests that grape seed extract can benefit many cardiovascular conditions.
The extract can help manage chronic venous insufficiency or poor circulation. It can also help to reduce high cholesterol and reduce swelling after an injury.
People are taking the grape seed extract due to its high amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect body cells from damage and prevent diseases. Research also shows that the grape seed extract has the potential of lowering the risks of certain cancers. It can also help to manage conditions like skin damage and PMS.
10. Treat migraines
Consuming ripe grape juice can help to treat migraines. Ironically, red wine causes these headaches because it is an alcoholic drink. However, grape seed extract and grape juice offer solutions to the problem.
The problem occurs because of lack of sleep, chemical imbalances, dietary deficiencies, and changes in weather. The many antioxidants in grapes can help to treat migraines.
Grapes and pregnancy
It is always a big debate whenever people introduce the topic of grapes and pregnancy. For most people, eating grapes during pregnancy is safe and beneficial for health. Others disagree and advise pregnant women to avoid them. But should pregnant women eat grapes during pregnancy?
You must consider several factors before eating grapes during pregnancy. First, grapes have many essential nutrients that pregnant women need to ensure their health and that of the foetus. But at the same time, grapes can be unsafe if you eat too many. The health benefits of grape during pregnancy include:
Prevents constipation by improving bowel movements
Increases immunity due to their many antioxidants which helps to prevent infections
Alleviates muscle cramps due to the richness in magnesium
Maintains good cholesterol levels
Offers folic acid which helps to ensure healthy fetal development
Controls asthma and arthritis
Pregnant women should eat the fruit moderately to gain these grapes health benefits. But if you eat too much, the following side effects can occur:
Weight gain due to the high number of calories in grapes. Just like any food that contains a significant amount of calories, too much of it can lead to weight gain.
Digestive problems can occur, and you are likely to suffer from nausea, vomiting, heartburn, or diarrhoea.
Causes bloating since overconsumption can increase the formation of gas in the body.
But should women also eat grapes during early pregnancy? Well, pregnant women should avoid sour grapes during early pregnancy because these are acidic. The acidity in the grapes can cause many digestive issues like vomiting and nausea.
Also, expectant mothers get heartburns during this stage of their pregnancy. Heartburns occur because of increased pregnancy hormones. Pregnant mothers should avoid foods that cause excessive vomiting because it leads to dehydration. The best grapes to eat are the red grapes or any of the available sweet grapes in Swahili culture.
Grapes are available in different forms and colours. There are sultanas, currents, and raisins, grape juice and gram jam, grape jelly, seedless grapes, purple, red, and green grapes. Eating any of these types can offer many health benefits.
Despite having many benefits, eating grapes also comes with its side-effects. Many people like eating the skin of the grapefruit since it is what contains the majority of the nutrients. But the skin can also have pesticides. To avoid the effects of consuming pesticides, wash grapes thoroughly before consuming them.
Note that red wine is made from grapes and has the same amount of nutrients as the fruit itself. Although it can have many health benefits, overconsumption can lead to addiction, stroke, depression, hypertension, cognitive problems, fatty liver, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathy.
To get the full benefits of grapes, incorporate them into any diet or take them as a bedtime or afternoon snack. You can also top it as a crunch salad or a delicious addition to your morning smoothie.