You may already intuitively sense that fresh grapes are good for you. After all, people have been cultivating and eating them for thousands of years. From ancient times onward, grapes have also delighted our senses with their beauty, delicate sweetness and luscious, thirst-quenching qualities.
Today, research scientists have been discovering exciting new facts about grapes and why they may benefit health in so many ways. Here are five great reasons to add grapes to your day:
1. Grapes Deliver Antioxidants and Other Polyphenols. Grapes of all colors contain a variety of antioxidants and other polyphenols. Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals to help prevent the process of oxidation that damages cells. Sounds pretty technical, but in fact, neutralizing free radicals happens naturally when we eat foods like grapes that promote antioxidant activity. When free radicals are left to their own devices, a condition called “oxidative stress” occurs. Oxidative stress is now associated with numerous health conditions and chronic illnesses.
2. Love Your Heart: Eat Grapes. Human studies have shown that eating a variety of grapes may help support a healthy heart by promoting relaxation of blood vessels to help maintain healthy blood flow and function. Heart-healthy grapes may also help promote healthy aging: studies looking into the health benefits derived from eating normal portions of grapes on a regular basis, are underway at some of the nation’s most prestigious research institutions.
3. “Grape” News for High Blood Pressure. In a recent series of studies1 2 3, animals were fed a salty diet and their blood pressures rose as a result. When grapes were added to their diet blood pressure levels dropped, heart function improved and inflammation was reduced throughout their bodies. These animals also showed fewer signs of heart damage compared to those who did not receive grapes in the diet.
4. A Boost for Colon Health. In a small human study of colon cancer patients4, those consuming a grape-enriched diet (equal to adding 2 1/2 cups of grapes per day for two weeks) were able to inhibit certain genes that promote tumor growth in the colon. This benefit was observed in the healthy tissue of the subjects’ colons, not the cancerous, indicating a potential role for grapes in helping to maintain a healthy colon.
5. All Eyes Are On Grapes. Three recent laboratory studies5 6 7 suggest that regular grape consumption may play a role in eye health by protecting the retina from deterioration. In the first study, adding grapes to the diet early in life prevented blindness in animals that were prone to developing retinal damage in old age, similar to age-related macular degeneration in humans. In the second study the grape-enriched diet offered protection in multiple ways, from countering oxidative stress to lowering levels of inflammatory proteins and increasing protective proteins in the retina. In a third laboratory study, adding grapes to the diet helped reduce damaging and undesirable blood vessel formation that can leak into the retina and lead to vision loss.