Jun 082011
 

When talking about health and nutrition benefits, it would be hard to exclude sweet and delicious grapes, in season now. In their vibrant green, red and purple colors, grapes literally seem to pop with nutrition in your mouth. It’s not surprising that grapes are admirably honored as the ‘Fruit of Gods’. Besides being an extremely tasty snack, they are a superfood, loaded with health and nutrition benefits. With a high water content, one serving weighs in at about 62 calories, and has 15 grams of natural sugars; so these tiny berries can satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping you looking and feeling great.

What is the Nutrition in Grapes?

You’ve probably heard the word flavonoids used in reference to grapes. These are the nutrients responsible for giving grapes their color and juicy texture. Flavonoids are known to decrease the risk of heart disease. Also all grapes, regardless of color, contain two other very important compounds – resveratrol and quercitin. Resveratrol is a powerful compound that has been the focus of many nutritional and scientific studies. This compound has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer by enhancing the function of your normal blood vessels. Quercitin has been shown to have many anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic qualities. In fact, some experts believe that eating grapes on a regular basis could act as a natural antihistamine for those that suffer from year-round and seasonal allergies.

What are the Health Benefits of Grapes?

  • Grapes are one of those rare fruits which are completely cholesterol free, which makes it an excellent addition to any diet.
  • The resveratrol in grapes helps in controlling cholesterol.
  • The vitamin A together with flavonoid compounds help to fight night blindness and other eye related problems.
  • Grape juice reduces fever. It also helps in fighting fatigue and provides instant energy to the body.
  • Grapes contain all the necessary minerals such as calcium, chlorine, copper, fluorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and sulfur.
  • Grapes contain vitamin K and vitamin E, which helps in blood clotting.
  • Grapes have small amounts of protein and dietary fibers that help facilitate quick digestion.
  • The B vitamins in grapes help to control metabolism naturally.
  • Grapes act as a good cleanser, thereby eliminating kidney stones and improving the flows of bile and urine.

How to buy/choose grapes?

Choose fresh, firm grapes. Their skins must be smooth and intact, the grape bunches should be tightly packed together, the stems should be strong and healthy, and there should be no soft or battered spots in the fruits themselves. Look for a pale yellow hue on green grapes, while red grapes should be deeply colored with no signs of green. Stems that are too green may be an indication that they are not yet ripe. Grapes are grown year round in different parts of the world, but as a general rule, try to buy them in season.

How to store grapes?

Avoid washing before storing. While this may clean them and get rid of dirt on them, the water will have a negative effect on the skins of the grapes; making them mushier and promoting bacterial growth in the process. Store in the refrigerator in the plastic bag you bought them in, usually ventilated, and wash before each use.

Fun ways to include more Grapes in your diet:

  • Try grape kebabs – Skewer grapes with cheese. Try different combinations for a lovely presentation.
  • Grill them – If there’s a way, I’ll find it! In a mixing bowl, toss with olive oil, put in your wire basket and grill on a medium-high grill for 3-4 minutes. This is a pretty accompaniment for grilled entrees.
  • Grilled kebabs with chicken – Marinate chicken cubes with lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, coriander, garlic, and salt and pepper. Skewer with grapes and grill for about 4 minutes on each side.
  • Freeze them – After working in the yard or for picnics, frozen grapes really quench your thirst.
  • Put them in cereal – Why not; we use raisins!
  • Use grapes in your Gazpacho – Grapes pair well with cucumbers, Granny Smith apples, and tomatillos.
  • Make a salsa – Halve red and yellow grape tomatoes and green grapes. Add chopped red onion, cilantro, olive oil, and lime. You will love the sweet taste of the grapes in this delicious salsa.

Recipes with Grapes

I grew up in the Midwest and can’t believe I found this recipe still around today. My mom and I used to go shopping at Marshall Fields and have this sandwich! I bet there’s someone else out there that shares this exact memory.

Remember that eating and cooking with fresh grapes is only one way to take advantage of these exceptional and nutritional tasty treats. Drinking 100 percent grape juice, eating raisins, and drinking red wine can also provide some important health benefits to you and your family. Grab a handful before you run out to do that next set of errands for extra energy today.

Cheers!

Click here for the Cool Summer Grape and Feta Salad Recipe.

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