Black grapes have been associated with health and nutrition for centuries and they even appear in ancient literature and works of art. The very word ‘grapes’ conjures up images of bunches of plump black grapes, the jeweled wine goblets of the ancient Romans, and the splendors of a bygone era. The nutritional value of black grapes however, has stood the test of time and in fact new research only helps to uncover more health benefits of this fruit.
Nutritional Information On Black Grapes
Black grapes aren’t just delicious; this tiny fruit is packed with nutrients. Juggling between the various choices of foods to meet those varied nutritional requirements can be quite a challenge, but including just a handful of black grapes in your daily diet can get you a lot closer to your nutritional goals.
The nutritional value of black grapes makes it an extremely valuable health food, with a single serving of around 80 g containing:
- Calories – 60 kcal
- Carbohydrates – 14.0g
- Vitamin C – 15% of the average RDA
- Protein – 1.0g
- Dietary Fiber – 1g
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggested that dark grape juice may be able to improve memory decline in older adults. In this study, 12 elderly adults with declining memory were divided into two groups. One group was given dark grape juice supplements daily for 12 weeks. The other group was given placebo supplements. At the end of the 12 weeks, tests focusing on memory and cognitive function were administered on the two groups. The group that had taken the dark grape juice supplement showed significant improvement not only in memory, but also in verbal and spatial recall. In addition, studies in laboratory animals have shown not only better performance in maze tests requiring memory skills, but also improved coordination and balance.
The high content of vitamins and minerals in grapes are responsible for their many health benefits. The fruit contains high levels of A, C, and B6, together with folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, copper, and iron, all the ingredients necessary to maintain a healthy body. Grapes also contain polyphenols which contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce DNA damage caused by free radicals. Polyphenols have been the focus of research with regard to preventing such conditions as aging, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and even cancer. Recent animal research has indicated that polyphenols found in grape seeds can reduce the development of plaque in the brain that is associated in Alzheimer`s.
Not to be ignored are the grape seeds themselves, which provide added health benefits. Grape seeds are the source of the popular supplement, grapeseed extract. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, grapeseed extract is also anti-allergenic, an antihistamine, and anti-inflammatory. It strengthens blood vessels, aids in circulation, improves skin elasticity, and promotes healthy hair growth. Grapeseed extract contains bioflavonoids which help protect cell membranes and guard against oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Grapeseed extract, itself, plays many roles in maintaining health. Its anti-aging properties may aid in the reduction of wrinkles. It provides cardiovascular protection by preventing oxidation of lipoproteins, making it more difficult for them to adhere to blood vessel walls. It also strengthens the linings of the arteries, making them less resistant to damage.
Useful in helping to control allergies, the catechins it contains inhibit enzymes involved in forming histamines, reducing the allergic response.
Much ado is being made with regard to the anti-aging properties of trans-resveratrol. Grape skins contain a high content of this compound. Studies done on the administration of trans-resveratrol in yeast, worms, fruit flies, fish, and mice have resulted in increased life spans. Trans-resveratrol may have extraordinary health benefits, including lowering cholesterol LDL levels and reducing cardiovascular disease. Laboratory studies reported in the December 9, 2009 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that trans-resveratrol is estrogenic, activating expression of artificially introduced “reporter” genes and naturally occurring estrogen-regulated genes in human cultured cells.
Among the many benefits of dark grapes are protection against asthma, migraine, constipation, indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, macular degeneration, cataracts, high cholesterol, edema, and antibacterial activity. Perhaps the most exciting news about dark grapes is their ability to protect against age related memory decline and even improve memory.
The antioxidant properties in grapes are good for flushing out toxins from your body that can often build up during weight loss. The National Institute of Health defines antioxidants as substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals. Keeping toxins such as free radicals out of your body might increase weight loss.
Black Grapes Health Benefits
Blood Sugar – Black grapes have glycemic index values that range from around 43 to 53and so they are listed as low GI foods. A low glycemic index isn’t necessarily indicative of blood sugar benefits but in the case of black grapes, their low GI value is clearly reflected in significant blood sugar benefits.
Several studies show that the consumption of grapes, as well as grape juices and extracts promote better blood sugar balance, improved regulation of insulin, and increased insulin sensitivity.
Cardiac Health – The cardiac health benefits of black grapes are probably most noteworthy, as studies indicate that they can drastically reduce heart disease risks. Research at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center suggests that grapes can be used to treat as well as prevent heart diseases. These benefits can be traced to the action of the phytochemicals in grapes that actually trigger a protective process in certain genes, reducing damage to the heart muscles. This is why the effect of black grapes on heart health is considerably greater than the simple blood pressure lowering effect of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. The consumption of grapes also reduces and regulates cholesterol levels.
Brain Function – The regular consumption of black grapes improves brain function, enhances memory, and concentration. Studies also seem to suggest that individuals who consume grape juice on a daily basis are less likely to succumb to brain diseases like Alzheimer disease.
High Flavonoid Content – So, what’s so special about flavonoids? Flavonoids don’t just lend grapes their great taste, but they also are responsible for most of the health benefits. The color and juiciness of the grapes derive from these nutrients, which are phytochemicals. So, higher the flavonoid content, the darker and juicier the quality of the grapes. Correspondingly, black grapes are believed to be the healthiest.
Resveratrol – This is one of several grape phytonutrients that is believed to affect longevity, because of its effect in slowing oxidization of cells and molecules, a property that also offers protection against degenerative conditions like cancer. Grape skins, grape seeds and grape flesh, all have high concentrations of this phytonutrient.
Quercitin – This is another phytonutrient present in grapes that has been found to demonstrate anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research also indicates that this particular property could lower the risks of developing a blood clot.