Grapes Contain Compounds That Fight Disease
Enjoyed by millions for many centuries, grapes are one of the oldest and best-known foods in the world. Widely regarded as a fruit, the grape is actually classified by taxonomists as a berry. With 7.5 million hectares of grapes growing worldwide, and close to 8 million tons produced in the USA alone each year, grapes come in at No. 1 for the area of land under cultivation worldwide. Surely there must be a reason for their popularity.
Well, yes, there is, and it isn’t just that a lot of people enjoy wine! Fresh grapes contain some of the most powerful natural disease-fighting compounds known to humans.
The Polyphenol Family
Polyphenols are naturally occurring antioxidants, found in higher concentrations in grapes than any other plant food. They include:
Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes, and in higher concentrations in red grapes than other varieties. The source of much debate and many claims over the health benefits (or otherwise) of red wine, resveratrol is thought to have properties that protect against some of the aging processes and against diseases such as diabetes, by preventing insulin resistance; cancer, by triggering apoptosis, the death of cancer cells; and heart disease, by making it more difficult for blood platelets to stick together, thereby avoiding clots that could cause a heart attack.
Proanthanocyanidins, found mostly in the seeds of grapes, are excellent companions to vitamin C. Their role is to support its function, and they are useful as anti-inflammatory agents as well. They support skin health, as they prevent the breakdown of collagen which leads to skin aging; joints, arteries, and capillaries enjoy greater elasticity too.
Anthocyanins give grapes and other berries their blue, red, or purple pigment. Another powerful antioxidant, studies seem to indicate that anthocyanins provide protection against several forms of heart disease and cancer. Another interesting finding was protection against age-related cognitive decline, and the improvement of memory in elderly study participants.
Phenolic acids are a large group of individual compounds widely found in many plants, and grapes have their fair share. Phenolic acids are thought to be responsible for protecting against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, along with a wide range of other uses. Phenol, the parent compound, is even used in some cleaning substances.
Fresh Is Best
While many of these beneficial plant compounds are available in supplement form, the rule is that fresh is best. Many natural compounds work best in conjunction with other substances, and much study is still needed in this field to understand which compounds work best together. You can’t beat the real thing when it comes to grapes; the flesh, seeds, and skin are packed with beneficial compounds that are good for your health. And apart from all that, grapes are simply delicious. So get out there and enjoy some!