Grapes are the autumn fruit par excellence: sweet and juicy, it’s impossible not to love them. Eaten as a snack, it can be a way to satisfy the desire for sweet that, at times, assails you on a diet. Whether white, black or pink, the calories of grapes are the same : 100 grams of grapes provide 61 calories.
Furthermore, this fruit is the perfect ally to face the tiring transition from summer to autumn with sprint . Energetic and very rich in therapeutic properties , it seems made to cheer you up.
Grapes: what is it?
It is a fruit of the vine. The species belonging to the genus Vitis are numerous but few have edible fruits.
The most suitable for consumption is Vitis vinifera , a perennial plant, typical of temperate climates.
The grapes are presented in the form of a cluster consisting of numerous berries, berries of different shape, size, color and flavor depending on the variety. They can be round or oblong, light green, yellow, pink, dark red or purple in color .
- simple sugars (glucose and fructose)
- vitamins (especially C, K and group B)
- mineral salts (especially copper and potassium)
- fair percentage of dietary fiber.
In addition, it contains other substances, present in small quantities but important for health:
- phenolic acids (anthocyanins and flavonols);
- stilbenes (resveratrol);
- flavonoids (bioflavonoids).
The concentrations of the individual nutrients vary according to the cultivar, the cultivation conditions and the preservation methods of the fruit.
White, red and black grapes: what’s the difference?
The main components are the same but, between the white and the black one, the difference is not only in the external appearance and taste.
Different colors correspond to different nutrients .
In fact, green fruits and vegetables are characterized by magnesium and folic acid , particularly useful for regulating energy metabolism and reducing tiredness and fatigue. They also help the functioning of the nervous and muscular systems.
Instead, the characteristic blue-violet color of black grapes indicates a phytocompound with an antioxidant action, anthocyanins, typical substances of all fruit and vegetables of that color.
Finally, red grapes also contain higher amounts of iron than white grapes.
Grapes: with or without peel
It is precisely the peel that is the bearer of resveratrol and polyphenols to the maximum extent , so eating it does not hurt, indeed.
These substances have antioxidant and anticancer properties , reducing the formation of free radicals and preventing the oxidation of bad cholesterol , with great benefits also for the heart .
The only caveat is for those with difficult digestion.
In fact, the grape skin is quite rich in cellulose and could further slow down the digestive process .
Benefits of grapes
Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antitumor
The presence of antioxidant substances such as anthocyanins, flavonols and resveratrol constitutes an effective protective shield against the negative effects of free radicals, responsible for the development of diseases linked to aging.
In fact, the antioxidants present in plants are of great importance as possible protective agents that help fight oxidative stress.
Furthermore, anthocyanins are able to ensure good protection from the harmful effects of free radicals on blood vessels, against arthritis and heart disease .
The resveratrol , found in significant concentrations in the skin of the grapes (and red wine), has properties: hypoglycemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet and antiatherosclerotic.
A great deal of research, especially in the last fifteen years, has highlighted the potential ability of resveratrol to interfere with all stages of carcinogenesis . These results underline its relevance in the prevention of cancer diseases.
Keeps the skeletal system healthy
Grapes have a set of minerals that are essential in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones .
Calcium, copper, iron and manganese combine to strengthen the skeletal system and to counteract degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis.
Improve cognitive functions
The polyphenols contained in grapes, thanks to their antioxidant action, seem to have the ability to slow down the aging of neural cells .
Recently some American researchers from Cornell University in New York published a study on the brains of rats treated with antioxidants in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry . In this case with quercetin , a very abundant antioxidant in grapes.
The study showed that neural cells resisted better the damage induced by their exposure to oxidizing agents responsible for the cellular suffering present in Alzheimer’s.
Thus, this study reinforces the theory that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative diseases can be reduced by regularly consuming natural antioxidants .
Improve blood circulation
Grapes are also effective in the clinical and functional manifestations of the venous system (such as hemorrhoids, capillary fragility and venous insufficiency of the lower limbs ), in the treatment of phlebitis and as a natural remedy for bleeding (due to its astringent properties).
Its action on vascular inflammation has also been studied in a work published in Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, which explains how grape juice containing quercetin decreases the presence of superoxide (a known free radical) and of the binder CD 40, clear marker of ongoing inflammation responsible for excessive platelet aggregation and therefore involved in the onset of atherosclerosis .
Protects from diabetes
Scientific studies have highlighted an alleged role of polyphenols in the prevention of some degenerative diseases, especially for the antidiabetic effect they play .
Grapes, which contain large quantities of it, would therefore also play a protective role against diabetes, despite the high content of sugars.
Consistent consumption seems to help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.
Grapes: vitamin supplement
It constitutes a rich reserve of vitamins B1, B2, B6 (or vitamin PP), C, and K .
All these come into play in numerous functions of the organism together with antioxidants and minerals, maintaining a state of well-being and full efficiency, also from the immune point of view .
The grape diet
It’s good, so good that there is even a 100% grape-based detox cure .
It is called ampelotherapy and consists in consuming this fruit for a few days, as the only daily food.
It starts with 0.5 kg and goes up to 2-2.5 kg daily.
Thanks to its high water content (about 80%) and to the presence of substances such as resveratrol and pterostilbene , present in the peel, it would help your body to purify itself .
Be careful, though: before embarking on the grape diet , it’s best to ask your doctor for advice.
At high dosages, it can create some disturbances. In particular, due to the presence of fibers (cellulose) that give rise to fermentation processes, grapes are not recommended for those suffering from gastric ulcer, gastrointestinal diseases and colitis .
Grapes are also not recommended for diabetics . A cluster of grapes of about 2 ounces contains 31 g of sugars divided between fructose and glucose, practically the same quantity contained in 300 g of apples.
Grapes: methods of use and conservation
Table grapes are a fruit that is normally eaten fresh, alone . But it can also be enjoyed in fruit salad , with other fruits, or in the form of a smoothie : in the latter case, it is good to eliminate the seeds because, when crushed, they could alter the flavor of the drink making it unwelcome.
Grapes are also an ingredient for many recipes, especially sweets, both fresh and dried (raisins or sultanas) .
They can also be used to make garnishes and decorations for many dishes.
Frozen, they are a valid substitute for the ice cube to cool and present any drink, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, in a more elegant way.
Grapes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, but should not be washed until immediately before use.
However, with the passage of time, the berries lose their natural crunchiness and some nutritional properties. Preparing grapes in syrup allows you to keep this fruit longer.
Raisins, or sultanas
Dried grapes (or raisins) do not lose their beneficial properties and are a widely used ingredient in desserts. Like all dried fruit, if enjoyed as a snack, it helps to cope with weight loss diets .
In fact, it is able to reduce the sense of hunger because it increases the level of leptin, a hormone that communicates the sense of satiety to the brain .
It has a high content of vitamin B2 , which is excellent for growth and for protecting skin health .
But pay attention to the calories of raisins: 100 g contain 260 calories.
Grapes: buying guide
The characteristics that make a Vitis vinifera cultivar classified as a table grape of excellent quality are related to the properties of the fruit.
The table grapes on the market must have a sugar content (degrees brix) between 14 and 18% in the juice , a balanced sugar-acid ratio, fruity or muscat aroma , small, few or no seeds that are not astringent if chewed .
Furthermore, the berries must be of:
- medium or large size
- crunchy texture, juicy
- thin, non-astringent, bright and attractive skin.
The structure of the bunch must be consistent , not excessively dense, with the grapes well attached to the pedicel.
Grape seed oil is extracted from grape seeds, which has excellent nourishing properties due to the abundance of Omega-6 polyunsaturated acids and linoleic acids.
It is also rich in vitamin E and has a moisturizing and emollient action on skin and hair .
Beauty treatment with grapes
Wine-based beauty treatments are the fashion of the moment. Indeed, it has been discovered that wine (especially red wine) has moisturizing , toning and antioxidant effects on the skin, with a sensational anti-aging result .
Where do the benefits of creams based on this fruit come from ? From the berries, rich in polyphenols that act against aging. They are ideal for smoothing the skin and have powerful antioxidant effects , capable of inhibiting the activity of free radicals. The presence of proanthocyanidins and resveratrol, on the other hand, favors cell renewal . Try the home scrub
Body scrub with grapes
DIY Scrub : Mix 1/2 cup of red wine with 4 tablespoons of unrefined brown sugar and the juice of 1/2 lemon.
Sweeten the mixture with 1 tablespoon of honey.
Your revitalizing and elasticizing scrub is ready!
Recipes with grapes
Fresh in bunches, in fruit salad, in the form of juice, grapes are an exquisite fruit, also used in various recipes, from appetizers to desserts to jams.
The sour and slightly sweet taste of fresh grapes goes well with both sweet and salty foods, such as raw ham and cheese.
Inserting fresh grapes in seconds and salads is a great idea to add flavor to your dishes.
Raisins are also a widely used ingredient in the preparation of desserts, but they are also excellent for giving a sweet and sour touch to first, second courses and salads .
It is also ideal for breakfast, added to your cereals, or to prepare energy bars to eat before going to the gym or as a snack .
Grapes: historical notes
The Vitis vinifera is also known as European vine , although it should be called Eurasian : the area of origin is not well defined, but it was once thought came from the South Caucasus.
For many centuries the main destination of the grapes was winemaking , while direct consumption was marginal and limited to the best and sweetest bunches.
THE first literary references are contained in the Old Testament , which speaks of the Hebron valley (valley of the grapes) as an area where the vine was cultivated as a fruit plant and not for wine.
Today, in the world, cultivation is widespread in over 40 countries, although more than half of world production is concentrated in Europe (especially in Spain, Italy and France).
The dictionary definition of grape at Wiktionary