The bountiful beauty of grapes is not only appealing to the eye but the palate as well. Known as the key ingredient for making wine, grapes come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes and have flavors ranging from sweet to sour.
Most grapes are members of the Vitis vinifera family and are rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. These antioxidants are the source of the belief that wine is heart-healthy. Fresh grapes are a good choice for a naturally sweet snack with vitamins C and K and other beneficial phytonutrients.
The Importance of Phytonutrients for Your Health
Grape Nutrition Facts
One cup of grapes (92g) provides 62 calories, 0.6g of protein, 16g of carbohydrates, and 0.3g of fat. Grapes are an excellent source of vitamins C and K. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.
- Vitamin C: 3.68mg
- Vitamin K: 13.4mcg
- Vitamin A: 4.6mcg
Most of the calories in grapes come from carbs, of which the majority are sugars. Eachgrape contains aboutone gram of carbohydrate. The glycemic index of grapes is estimated to be about 59, while the glycemic load for a one-cup serving is 11.
Grapes are a nearly fat-free food, providing far less than 1 gram per serving.
There is just 1 gram of protein per serving of grapes. They pair well with cheese and nuts, which are good sources of protein and can help build a balanced, satisfying snack.
Vitamins and Minerals
Grapes are anexcellent source of vitamin K and manganese. You'll also benefit from a healthy dose of vitamin C, whichhelps to keep immunity high and aids in repairing tissues, such as healing wounds.
Grapes average about 62 calories per cup. Seedless red grapes have about 86 calories per 100g, which is slightly more than one cup. By contrast, seedless green grapes contain 80 calories per 100g.
Grapes are a vitamin-rich and hydrating fruit that provides plenty of vitamin C, K, and A. Grapes are a nutrient dense source of carbohydrates, but provide minimal amounts of protein and fat.
Grapes are a sweet, low-fat, and low-calorie treat. If you are trying to reduce your intake of processed foods or added sugars, grapes can be a good substitute for snacks like cookies and candy. Most of the health benefits of grapes come from the vitamins they contain.
Help With Blood Clotting
Vitamin Kis important for strong bones and blood clotting. Note: If you take Coumadin (warfarin) or other blood thinners, your vitamin K intake should be consistent. Talk with a healthcare provider about your diet.
Grapes contain relatively large amounts of phytonutrients, especially flavonoids such as resveratrol (found in the skins of red grapes). Resveratrol has antioxidants that may help to lower the risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood clots, and heart disease.
Grapes also containquercetin (a flavonoid), which may help protect cells from damage. For instance, there is some evidence that quercetin offers a number of health benefits including being an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant agent.
Improve Cognitive Function
Some research indicates that consumption of resveratrol (sometimes in the form of supplements) can also help to improve memory and cognitive function in older adults. Resveratrol is found in higher concentration in red grapes.
Regulate Blood Sugar
Some research has shown that resveratrol can be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes. Resveratrol may improve glycemic control and decrease insulin resistance, both of which are beneficial for people with diabetes.
Low in FODMAPs
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn's disease may experience digestive symptoms when they consume foods high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-,monosaccharides, and polyols,a collection of short-chain carbohydrates). Grapes are a low-FODMAP fruit.
As you likely know, wine is made from fermented grapes. Sugars from grapes are converted into alcohol during this process. Wine also has health benefits that are distinct from eating raw grapes. Wine, particularly red wine, can lower cardiovascular health risks, reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, reduce inflammation, and have protective antioxidant properties.
Medical experts have identified five major allergens present in grapes. Symptoms of a grape allergy may include hives, rash, or swelling or more severe reactions. Additionally, if you have an allergy to other fruits, you may have a reaction when consuming grapes, according to theAmerican Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).
Eating grapes may slow blood clotting (because of their vitamin K content). Ask your healthcare team for advice, especially if you take blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin) and monitor your Vitamin K intake.
Whole grapes are a choking hazard for kids 4 years old and younger. Cut grapes into quarters before serving to young children.
Grapes, both European and American variety, are grown in the United States. European grapes are harvested in California, mostly for making raisins, while American grapes are mostly used in making jam, jelly, juice, and other food products.
There are many varieties of table grapes, ranging from white, black, green, and ruby-red. Some examples includeAdora, Almeria, Beauty seedless, Crimson seedless, Concord, Emperor, Niagara (white Concord grapes), Red Flame, Ribier, Ruby seedless, Scarlotta, Thompson seedless, and more. Each variety of grape has a distinct flavor. Seeded grapes tend to have more flavor, but most people prefer seedless varieties.
Deep-purple, red, and black grapes are a richer source of antioxidants than green grapes. In general, though, there is not much difference in the nutritional value of grape varieties.
However, grape juices, jams, and jellies usually have more sugar than fresh grapes since sugar is typically added in preparation. It is important to read the ingredient label. A 4-ounce serving of 100% grape juice has 18 grams of sugar, which is more than the amount found in a whole cup of fresh grapes (15 grams). A tablespoon of grape jelly has 10 grams of sugar.
When They're Best
What's available in the grocery store depends on the time of year and where you live, as different varieties of grapes are harvested throughout the summer and fall. But you can always find imported grapes any time you need them.
When purchasing grapes, avoid grapes with mold or those that are shriveled. Choose grapes that arerich in color.Green grapes are the sweetest and best flavored when they are yellow-green in color. Red and black grapes are best when they have full, rich color.
Storage and Food Safety
Grapes that have a powdery-white coating, called bloom, are safe to eat. The coating is a naturally occurring substance that protects grapes from moisture loss and decay. Sometimes it doesn't wash off easily, but it is safe to eat.
If stored correctly, grapes can keep in the refrigerator for several weeks. To maintain optimal freshness, follow these steps:
- Inspect the exterior: Check for signs of mold, shriveling, or poor stem attachment. Any grapes with these signs are likely to deteriorate faster and affect the others. Discard any grapes that may not be in good condition.
- Keep them cold:Grapes keep best if they are cold. Place them near the back of the refrigerator (the coldest place) and away from pungent foods such as onions, as they have the ability to absorb odors.
- Keep the original package:Keeping grapes in their original container will prevent them from being squashed. In addition,the container they were put in typically has the right amount of covering and ventilation to help extend shelf life.
- Store them unwashed:Like many fruits, grapes should be stored unwashed. Washing before storage can promote moisture, which can speed up the decaying process. Instead, rinse your grapes right before consumption.
- Freeze them:To get even greateruse from your grapes, freeze them to use later in smoothies, cocktails, or even as a cool, refreshing snack.
How to Prepare
Grapes are best known for being eaten as a snack, on their own, or added to a fruit salad. Fresh grapes can also add a sweet twist to savory salads and compliment the saltiness of assorted cheeses and olives for an appealing appetizer. You can even roast grapes in the oven and use them to accompany meat dishes.