One of the most popular table fruits, grapes are widely considered as the “queen of fruits” in human history. These small berries of European and Mediterranean origin are a powerhouse of many health-promoting nutrients such as polyphenolic antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It’s no wonder why so many of us often include them in our diet be it as fresh table fruits, dry fruits (raisins), juice, or in wine form! It helps that they are deliciously sweet too.
They are small, round berries that grow in clusters on a perennial and deciduous woody vine of the genus, Vitis. Today, they are widely cultivated under supervised conditions in orchards and vineyards all around the world. Each berry is consists of semi-translucent flesh surrounded by a smooth skin. Some have seeds and others are seedless varieties. The colour of the grape depends on the presence of polyphenolic pigments in them. Red berries are rich in anthocyanins and white ones contain more tannin. Many different varieties are cultivated for different purposes, whether to be eaten as fruit, dried out to make sultanas or grown to be used in wine making. For Online wine merchants in Northern Ireland, visit http://thewinecompanyni.com/.
What are some of the health benefits of grapes?
- Grapes are rich in a polyphenolic phytochemical compound called Resveratrol is one of the powerful anti-oxidants which have been found to play a protective role against cancers of colon and prostate, coronary heart disease, degenerative nerve disease, Alzheimer’s disease and viral/ fungal infections.
- Resveratrol also reduces stroke risk by altering the molecular mechanisms inside the blood vessels.
- Anthocyanins are another class of polyphenolic antioxidants present in the red grapes. These phytochemicals have been found to have an anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, as well as anti-cancer activity
- Catechins are a type of anti-oxidant in the tannin group which are found in the white/green varieties and these are also shown to possess certain health-protective functions.
- Grapes are a rich source of micronutrient minerals like copper, iron, and manganese. Iron is especially concentrated in raisins. Grapes also contain good levels of potassium. They are also an excellent source of Vitamins C, A, K and B vitamins such as riboflavin and thiamin.
Fresh grapes are available all year round and when shopping for the fruit, choose those that feel plump in consistency, free from surface wrinkles, without any cuts or cracks or leaking juice, and firmly attached to a healthy-looking green stem. To know whether a berry is ripe, green grapes should have a slightly yellowish hue; red types should be mostly pinkish-red, while purple and blue-black types should be rich in colour. Grapes do spoil quite quickly and will ferment at room temperature so it’s best to store them in the fridge. Make sure to wash the grapes before eating to remove any pesticide residues and dirt by rinsing in cold-water for a couple of minutes. Eat them on their own, use to complement a fruit or vegetable salad, use raisins in cakes and puddings and also in jams, jellies, juice and wine.