From the Research: Seven Reasons Why Grapes Are Good for You
You don't need a Ph.D. or an M.D. to intuitively sense that fresh grapes are good for you. After all, people have been cultivating and eating them for thousands of years. From ancient times onward, grapes have also delighted our senses with their beauty, sweetness and luscious, thirst-quenching qualities.
Today, research scientists have been discovering exciting new facts about grapes and why they may benefit health in so many ways. Here are seven great reasons to add grapes to your day:
1. Grapes Deliver Antioxidants and Other Polyphenols. Grapes of all colors contain a variety of antioxidants and other polyphenols. These beneficial antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals to help prevent the process of oxidation that damages cells. Sounds pretty technical, but in fact, neutralizing free radicals happens naturally when we eat foods like grapes that contain lots of antioxidants. When free radicals are left to their own devices, a condition called "oxidative stress" occurs. Oxidative stress is now associated with numerous health conditions and chronic illnesses.
2. Love Your Heart: Eat Grapes. Human studies have shown that eating a variety of grapes may help support a healthy heart by improving blood flow, arterial flexibility and blood vessel function. Grape consumption may also help prevent platelet aggregation, which can lead to clot formation. Grapes also promote healthy arteries by helping prevent the oxidation of bad "LDL" cholesterol, which is a key contributor to the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
3. "Grape" News for High Blood Pressure. In a recent series of laboratory studies, rats were fed a salty diet and their blood pressures rose as a result. When grapes were added to their diet blood pressure levels dropped, heart function improved and inflammation was reduced throughout their bodies. These animals also showed fewer signs of heart damage compared to those who did not receive grapes in the diet.
4. A Boost for Colon Health. In a small human study of colon cancer patients, those who ate 2 1/2 cups of grapes per day for two weeks were able to inhibit certain genes that promote tumor growth in the colon. This benefit was observed in the healthy tissue of the subjects' colons, not the cancerous, indicating a potential role for grapes in maintaining a healthy colon.
5. All Eyes Are On Grapes. In a recent laboratory study, grapes prevented blindness in mice that were prone to developing retinal damage in old age, similar to age-related macular degeneration in humans. When compared to lutein, grapes offered significantly more protection.
6. Grapes are Brain Food. In preliminary studies, grapes seem to help protect brain health by counteracting oxidative stress and inflammation, or by targeting the actions of certain genes involved in age-related diseases of the brain.
7. Supporting Men's Health. Prostate enlargement is a significant concern for men. A series of animal studies showed that consuming grapes helped to protect against the loss of bladder function associated with a partial obstruction – similar to that resulting from an enlarged prostate – which can cause the bladder to weaken. Adding grapes to the diet provided a strong antioxidant effect and membrane-protective properties that significantly reduced and reversed bladder damage caused by a partial obstruction.