You’ve likely heard red wine being praised for its health benefits, but what about grapes? The latter seems to be less common, which is a bit odd considering wine is made from them. That’s why this week we’re featuring a fruit that doesn’t get the attention it deserves: the grape.
The Great Grape (and its Many Forms)
As you can see from the chart below, the grape can be consumed in a few different forms (Note: Grape soda is not one of them).
|Grapes,Green or Red(1 Cup)||Grape Juice, Unsweetened(1 Cup)||Raisins,Seedless(1/4 Cup)||Wine,Red or White(5 fl oz)|
|Calories||104||152||108||120 – 125|
|Carbohydrates (gm)||27||37||~ 29||~ 4|
|Alcohol (gm)||0||0||0||~ 15|
A few things to keep in mind:
- You get the biggest bang for your calorie buck with the fresh fruit.
- One cup of fresh grapes has about the same amount of calories as ¼ cup of raisins (which are just dried grapes)
- Like all juices, grape juice has a higher calorie count and lower fiber content than the fresh fruit.
- Most of the calories in wine come from alcohol
- At 7 calories per gram, alcohol is second only to fat in calorie content.
Additionally, grapes are an excellent source of manganese and a good source of thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. Each of these plays an important role in keeping our bodies functioning properly.
Grapes are loaded with phytonutrients. Listing them all would be excessive, but here are a few that you may be familiar with from some of our other blog posts:
- Quercetin (Read more in our post about cherries)
- Anthocyanins (Read more in our post about red raspberries)
- Lutein (Read more in our post about kiwifruit)
Of all of the phytonutrients in grapes (many of which are not listed), the one that receives the most attention is resveratrol. This polyphenol is found in the skin of grapes, and is synthesized as a defense mechanism against infection during growth. It has been touted for its health benefits, and because of that has become increasingly popular as a dietary supplement. That being said, it is important to note that studies on resveratrol supplements have all been conducted in animal experiments. No human trials have been conducted specifically showing these benefits. Optimistic results from animal trials cannot be accurately concluded to humans. When it comes to resveratrol supplements, buyers beware. Supplements are loosely regulated, and the purity, efficacy and dosage of these products may not be what it is advertised as.
Another point to keep in mind: Not all grapes are created equal when it comes to phytonutrient content. Dark red and purple grapes tend to have a higher concentration compared to their white counterparts.
What About Wine?
As mentioned before, you can’t have wine without grapes. But why is it that we tend to hear wine getting more praise than the fruit that makes it? Here’s the answer: The fermentation process used to make wine releases resveratrol from the grape’s skin. This makes the polyphenol more available for our bodies to absorb. Just remember that moderate alcohol intake is two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women*, and more than that can lead to negative health outcomes.
Bottom line: The best way to get a wide variety of polyphenols is by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet (grapes included).
Selecting, Storing, Preparing Fresh Grapes
- Select grapes that are plump and firm. Choose a bundle with the grapes still firmly attached to their stem.
- Store them in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Note: Raisins should also be stored in the refrigerator once opened.
- Wash prior to eating
Ways to Enjoy Grapes (and some of their other forms):
- Feeling fancy? Make a platter with crackers, cheese, and grapes for a fun party treat or a night at home. (Bonus: use whole-wheat crackers)
- Dip them in chocolate (use dark chocolate for added benefits)
- Add grapes to a fruit salad and sweeten up a chicken salad
- Add them to a smoothie
- Grapes pair wonderfully with grains. Add grapes to a chilled quinoa or wheatberry salad.
- Freeze them! They can be used as ice cubes or alone as a cool snack.
- Don’t have time to freeze them? That’s fine! Grapes are a delicious, portable treat. They’re perfect when packing lunches
- If feeding small children, slice into quarters to avoid a choking hazard.
* One drink is considered to be: 12 fl oz of regular beer, 8 – 9 fl oz of malt liquor, 5 fl oz of table wine, 1.5 fl oz shot of 80-proof spirits.