Grapes are small, round fruits that usually have a sweet flavor. They are sometimes referred to as grape berries. Many people enjoy the taste of grapes and incorporate them into a variety of recipes. However, grapes can also be beneficial for health in many ways, from improving eye health to providing anti-cancer benefits. There are many types of grapes, including red, green, white, yellow, pink, and black. Grapes, and their juice, are commonly used in a variety of foods and drinks such as jellies, jams, wines, and fruit juices. In this article, we take a look at the nutrition facts of grapes, talk about their health benefits, and discuss any possible side effects.
- Calories: 104
- Carbs: 27.3 grams
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Vitamin C: 5% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin K: 18% of the DV
- Thiamine: 8% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the DV
- Potassium: 6% of the DV
- Copper: 21% of the DV
- Manganese: 5% of the DB
Due to their nutrient-rich profile, grapes offer many health benefits, including:
Antioxidants are naturally-occurring compounds found in many fruits and vegetables. These compounds help protect cells from free radicals, which are atoms or groups of atoms that contain an odd number of electrons. Since they lack stability, free radicals can cause damage to cells in the body and contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease (11).
Grapes are rich in antioxidants, which are thought to protect cells from free radicals. Studies have shown that chemicals in grapes called phenolic compounds may increase the activity of antioxidant enzymes, allowing them to do their job better (4).
Grape polyphenols could potentially suppress obesity-related inflammation and insulin resistance (19). This suggests that grapes may play a role in preventing obesity and associated metabolic disorders.
Grapes Benefits: Eye Health
There is some evidence to suggest that grapes may promote eye health, including reducing the risk of macular degeneration.
The nutrients responsible for these benefits include (17):
- Vitamin C, which is thought to protect against cataracts. Studies have shown that vitamin C intake is inversely related to the risk of developing cataracts.
- Vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties and may help prevent damage to cells within the retina.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are pigments that may also help to protect cells within the retina.
Grapes contain high levels of beneficial plant compounds, which may help protect against certain types of cancer.
One of the most beneficial compounds in grapes is Resveratrol. It has been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticarcinogenic properties in test tube studies (21).
In addition to resveratrol, other polyphenols in grapes called catechins may help protect against cancer by blocking the action of a protein called Beta-catenin, which increases the activity of genes that promote cell growth, survival, and invasion (23).
Grapes Benefits: Lower Blood Pressure
Potassium is an important mineral that helps control blood pressure. It does so by controlling the amount of water and salt in the body.
Grapes are a good source of potassium, which may help lower blood pressure and reduce hypertension (high blood pressure). Studies have found that people who eat foods high in potassium tend to have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (1).
May Help Reduce Cholesterol
Grapes contain certain compounds called phytosterols, which may help to reduce cholesterol levels. In particular, grape seed extracts contain a significant amount of beta-sitosterol, which has been found to have strong cholesterol-lowering effects (5).
This is good for heart health because high cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Improve Athletic Performance
Grapes contain a compound called resveratrol, which is thought to improve athletic performance. Resveratrol may have positive effects on muscle function, antioxidant activity, glycogen and carbohydrate metabolism, and bone metabolism, which suggests that it could be beneficial in regards to exercise performance and recovery, although studies so far have found inconsistent results (22).
Improve Bone Health
Vitamins and minerals in grapes such as vitamin K and magnesium may help to improve bone health and mineralization (10).
Improve Memory, Attention, And Mood
Resveratrol, which is found in grapes, has been shown to improve memory and attention. It has also been shown to have antidepressant effects at high doses (8).
All of these benefits may improve mood and prevent depression.
Reduce Muscle Pain And Cramps
Potassium is an important mineral that helps reduce muscle pain and cramps. It does so by helping control the amount of water in the body. Grapes contain a significant amount of potassium, which means they can help prevent exercise-induced muscle cramping and injury (16).
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Can Aid Weight Loss
Grapes may help weight loss because they contain soluble fiber that has been found to reduce appetite and increase the sensation of fullness after meals.
High-fiber foods, such as grapes, can help reduce appetite and cravings, which may contribute to weight loss (6).
Improve Oral Health
Plaque is a sticky material that contains bacteria that form on the teeth. Grape extracts have been found to reduce plaque formation, which may help to prevent gingivitis, gum disease, and tooth decay (13).
Grapes contain high levels of beneficial plant compounds such as polyphenols, which have been shown to protect against gum disease.
Slow Down Aging
Grapes contain antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been shown to protect against damage from free radicals and help prevent oxidative stress (18).
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can cause significant damage to cells, which results in aging or the breakdown of cells. By protecting against these processes, grapes may help to slow down aging and help delay many of the effects associated with growing old.
Side Effects Of Eating Too Many Grapes
Grapes are not believed to have any serious side effects, even in large amounts. However, they may cause minor negative reactions in some people, including:
Some people develop an allergic reaction or experience an upset stomach when they eat grapes (12). This is more common in people who are allergic to other types of berries or tree nuts, including strawberries, oranges, peaches, celery, and walnuts.
Allergy symptoms may include:
- Skin reactions such as hives, itchy skin, redness, swollen face/lips/tongue/throat, eczema, and rashes
- Tingling or itching inside the mouth, swelling of the mouth or throat, digestive symptoms such as nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, or feeling sick
Grapes can also trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to mold (3). Eating moldy grapes may cause the immune system to overreact, leading to hay fever-type symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes, and sneezing.
Some sources recommend that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) avoid eating grapes due to their high levels of sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms in some people (7). Sorbitol is poorly digested, which means it provides fewer calories than regular sugar.
Resveratrol Side Effects
Consuming large amounts of products with high concentrations of resveratrol may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and a drop in blood pressure (20). This is unlikely to happen from simply eating grapes, however.
High Sugar Consumption
Since grapes are food that naturally contains sugar, it’s important to be aware that eating too many could contribute to weight gain and tooth decay.
Types Of Grapes
Grapes are available year-round, so they can be eaten at any time of the year. They are most commonly found in supermarkets as well as fruit stalls or shops.
Many different varieties of grapes have slightly different tastes and textures due to differences in genetic makeup, growing conditions, storage conditions, and harvest times.
The main types of grapes available include:
- Black grapes
- Red grapes
- Green or white grapes
- Pink or purple grapes
Varieties of grapes to avoid include:
- Seedless grapes
Grapes are also available in seedless varieties, which can make them easier to eat and digest. However, they may not provide the same health benefits as seeded grapes since the seeds contain high concentrations of beneficial plant compounds such as polyphenols and resveratrol.
Dried grapes are known as raisins. They retain the nutritional properties of grapes but lose some water content, which concentrates many of their healthy plant compounds such as antioxidants and resveratrol (15). However, this also makes them high in sugar, so they should be eaten in moderation.
How To Eat Grapes?
Grapes are a versatile fruit that can be eaten in various ways, such as:
Plain As A Snack
Grapes can be a quick and easy snack on their own.
However, you have to control your portion size since they are relatively high in sugar, with a cup of grapes containing about 19 grams of sugar.
Added Flavor For Salads
Grapes can be added to salads to add flavor and texture.
For example, adding chopped grapes to a vegetable or chicken salad makes a healthy and delicious meal.
As A Side Dish
Grapes can also be incorporated into side dishes such as grape salad, a simple dish that simply requires mixing canned or fresh grapes with other ingredients such as chopped nuts or canned fish/meat.
Blended In Smoothies
Grapes can be blended into a smoothie to give it a sweeter taste and add some extra flavor.
This works well with green or white grapes since they have a milder flavor compared to black or red grapes.
Ingredient For Main Dishes
Grapes can be used as an ingredient in main dishes such as grape casseroles or grape-topped pizzas.
You can also use grapes to make a sauce for meat such as pork chops.
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Additive For Desserts and Sweets
Grapes are often used in desserts and sweets such as pies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods since they add moisture and provide a slightly tart taste that contrasts well with the sweetness of other ingredients such as sugar and cocoa.
As 100% Grape Juice
Grapes can also be used to make 100% grape juice, which provides all their nutritional benefits and has no added sugars or flavorings.
However, the high sugar content of grapes means that fresh-squeezed juice can quickly add empty calories to your diet if you don’t watch your portion size.
Dried grapes are known as raisins, which can be eaten plain or added to other dishes.
However, they contain more concentrated amounts of sugar than fresh grapes, so they should still be consumed in moderation.
Grapes can be boiled in water or wine, and then pureed to create a sauce, which can be used to add flavor and moisture to meat dishes such as pork chops.
As 100% Grape Jam
Grapes can also be boiled in their own juice and then pureed to create a 100% grape jam, which contains similar nutritional properties as fresh grapes. However, they are often more high in sugar, so use it sparingly or limit your consumption of jams, jellies, or preserves if you need to watch your sugar intake.
The Bottom Line
Grapes are tasty and nutritious fruit that can be eaten on their own or added to various dishes, such as salads, smoothies, desserts, and main dishes. They contain many nutrients that can promote good health and are available in seeded and seedless varieties. However, grapes do contain high amounts of sugar so it is important to control your portion size when eating grapes in order to avoid potential negative effects on weight or blood glucose levels.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
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- Resveratrol: A Double-Edged Sword in Health Benefits (2018, mdpi.com)
- Resveratrol and cancer: focus on in vivo evidence (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Resveratrol and exercise (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The regulation of β-catenin activity and function in cancer: therapeutic opportunities (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)