Grapes have long been a part of the human diet. The fruit has been cultivated for at least as long as it has been fermented and turned into wine which is a practice that goes back 8,000 years.
Currently around 75,800 square kilometers of land from around globe is being used to cultivate this fruit. About 71% of production is for wine grapes, 27% for table grapes and 2% for dried fruit. This clearly shows the commercial importance of this fruit.
The nutritional profile of grapes has received much attention from researchers. Various phytonutrients from the common beta-carotene to less frequently occurring substances like resveratrol have been identified. The health benefits of the latter have been the focus of recent studies regarding the fruit.
Along with the benefits, some health risks also need to be considered in order to effectively take advantage of what the fruit has to offer. Continue reading and find out the pros and cons of grapes.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant. Among other benefits such as lowering chances of heart disease and viral infection, the substance has been studied for its anti-aging properties. This phytonutrient as it turns out is able to strengthen the expression of genes involved in longevity. This is probably why resveratrol is able to counter degenerative nerve illnesses. There is a study in fact that’s investigating how it can help against Alzheimer’s disease.
Grape’s phytonutrients have also been associated with cardiovascular benefits. They are able to better regulate blood pressure by affecting how much nitric oxide (a vasodilator) is released into blood vessels. They are also known to inhibit improper aggregation of platelets that can hamper circulation. Another way these nutrients help the heart is by increasing the body’s production of glutathione. This internally synthesized substance protects the heart as well as other tissues and organs from oxidative stress.
All these benefits come from a fruit with a relatively low glycemic index of 43-53. Grapes are one of the fruits that are safe for people that need to strictly manage their blood sugar levels. The fruit’s phytonutrients provide additional help by enhancing insulin regulation and increasing insulin sensitivity.
One considerable risk from grapes doesn’t stem from the fruit but from the way it’s produced. The Environmental Working Group has listed this fruit as one of the “dirty dozen”, 12 agricultural products which are frequently and highly contaminated with pesticide residues. Such toxins can cause a variety of problems from allergies to complications in the liver.
The fruit is known to interact with certain medications. Warfarin for example is a drug that slows blood clotting. Since grapes also have this effect, consuming the fruit while under such medication could lead to bleeding. In the case of pharmaceuticals metabolized by the liver like phenacetin, grapes may speed up the break down process and thus render the medicine ineffective.
Grape Practical Uses:
Given the dangers of pesticide residue, it is highly recommended that you purchase grapes that have been organically cultivated by local producers. If this option is not possible then the most you can do is thoroughly wash the fruit before storing and/or consuming.
Freezing the fruit is one way to store them for an extended period. Frozen grapes can also be a cool tasty treat on a hot day. Here are a few tips on how to do go about it.
- Pick off and de-stem individual pieces and wash them in a colander using cold water. A salad spinner may also be a good tool to get this step done quicker.
- Once all the excess water has been drained place the grapes on a towel and dab then dry.
- Line them up on a flat tray like a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. This is just to make sure all the pieces are uniformly frozen.
- You can transfer them in a freezer bag afterwards for storage.
Some of the phtyonutrients are actually more concentrated on the skin and seeds of grapes. So it’s better to eat them whole. If you encounter recipes that require peeling the grape, consider how much impact on taste or texture there really is when you leave the fruit unpeeled.
In the next post, I’ll tell you the pros and cons of strawberries and how to moderately use it in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the fruits on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
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