When you think of vitamin C, you may be inclined to think of oranges as a good source.
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But did you know that grapes are also an excellent way to get vitamin C? With other nutrients like antioxidants, vitamin K and potassium, these little balls are chock-full of tons of goodness.
“Grapes are amazing because not only are they affordable, but they are versatile,” says registered dietitian Anthony DiMarino, RD. “They can be used in many different dishes and situations.”
DiMarino talks to us about the health benefits of grapes and how you can incorporate them into your meals.
Benefits of eating grapes
Grapes are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also full of water, which can help keep you hydrated. Here you can see how eating grapes can benefit your health.
Helps your immune system
Since grapes are a great source of vitamin C, they can help your immune system fight bacterial and viral infections like yeast infections.
“If we have a strong immune system, our body is better able to fight back and prevent any sudden, short-term illness,” says DiMarino.
Full of antioxidants, grapes can help fight free radicals, which are molecules that can damage cells and can lead to cancer.
“So antioxidants go out and reduce what we call oxidative stress to help reduce the risk of cancer,” says DiMarino.
Grapes also boast the antioxidant called resveratrol, which can protect against cancer by reducing inflammation and blocking the growth of cancer cells. Grapes also contain catechins, quercetin and anthocyanins, other antioxidants that can be a strong combination against cancer.
Lowers blood pressure
“Grapes are very low in sodium,” says DiMarino. “They fit well into a low-sodium diet plan that helps reduce blood pressure.”
DiMarino says grapes are also high in potassium, which can also help balance blood pressure. If you have a low potassium intake, you may have an increased risk of high blood pressure.
Protects against heart disease
Resveratrol can not only help prevent cancer. It has also been shown to help protect against heart disease.
A study also shows that those whose diets had more potassium than sodium were less likely to die of heart disease than people who did not have as much potassium in their diet.
Reduces high cholesterol
You will find plenty of fiber in grapes, making them a great opportunity to help lower high cholesterol.
“I always explain it almost like a street sweeper. It enters your bloodstream and transports all that cholesterol out of the body into the liver, where it is processed, DiMarino says.
In a study of people with high cholesterol, those who ate three cups of red grapes a day for eight weeks had lower total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Protects against diabetes
Grapes have a low glycemic index number, which means they will not raise your blood sugar.
In fact, studies show that nutrients in grapes can lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity, which can help your body use glucose.
Helps maintain brain health
It’s all about resveratrol, which benefits the body in many ways. The powerful antioxidant helps reduce oxidative stress, which can have a positive effect on your brain.
“Think of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, they can be signs of oxidative stress,” says DiMarino. “Resveratrol can help reduce the chances of these diseases occurring.”
Although a study shows the potential of the antioxidant when it comes to preventing cognitive disorders, there is still a need for research on humans to really understand if it is beneficial.
Improves bone health
Thanks to vitamin K and minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, consuming grapes can help you maintain strong bones.
Although all of these nutrients are important for bone health, more research is needed to fully understand how grapes can help bone health.
Slows down aging
Yes, you read that right. If you want to fight Father Time, grapes can help keep you youthful.
Resveratrol (yes, the powerful antioxidant again) stimulates the SirT1 gene, which has been linked to a longer lifespan by affecting cell structure and protecting cells.
“It helps protect certain genes, leading to healthy aging and longevity,” says DiMarino.
Are you having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep? Grapes can help you catch some ZZZs.
“Grapes have a degree of melatonin in them,” says DiMarino. “So they’s a good evening snack. They do not have many calories and they can potentially help you fall asleep.”
What kind of grapes should you eat?
There are many options out there – right in the colors of green, white, purple and red and come with fun names like candy candy and moon drops. So which ones should you eat?
“The most important thing is that you choose an option that is closest to its natural shape,” says DiMarino. “So instead of drinking grape juice or eating raisins, the original, unprocessed grape is where you get the most nutrition.”
A serving of grapes is about a cup. Consider adding them to smoothies and salads like chicken salad. Also, try freezing them for a sweet treat.
“You can definitely reap the benefits of having grapes two to three times a week,” says DiMarino. “They are available year-round and can be a great snack.”