Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fruit and Your Health - Part 2 - Grapes

This is one of my favorite from the fruit group.  I love all of them, especially if they are seedless.  They make great salads, mixed with or without other fruits.  Stir them into your favorite chicken salad and you have a wonderful surprise for your mouth.  But not only are they tasty but they are good for us!  Here is what I found in my research.

Info from Healthy Eating

When you include plenty of fruit in your daily diet, you reap many health benefits.  The vitamins, minerals and fiber in fruit helps reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease.  You should aim to include as many colors of fresh fruit as possible each day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends.  Green grapes are a healthy choice that will help you meet the daily recommended intake of 2 - 3 cups of fruit as well as help you eat a rainbow of colors.

Vitamins - Green grapes contain vitamins C & K.  Vitamin C plays an important role in preventing infection and also promotes the health of your bones, teeth, gums and blood vessels.  It also acts as an antioxidant to protect your body form the damage caused by free radicals, compounds that might increase your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.  One cup of green grapes contains 4.8 milligrams of the 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C you should consume each day.  Vitamin K supports healthy bones and enables your blood to clot.  You need 120 micrograms of this vitamin each day.  One cup of green seedless grapes contains 22 micrograms toward your daily requirement.

Minerals - A serving of green seedless grapes is a healthy source of potassium and iron.  Potassium aids in organ, tissue, muscle, cell and heart functions, and you need 4,700 milligrams each day to support these bodily systems.  One cup of green grapes supplies 288 milligrams toward that goal.  Iron is important for the proper formation of red blood cells and also aids in the movement of oxygen in your body.  The daily requirement of iron is 8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women.  One cup of green seedless grapes contains 0.54 milligrams of this essential mineral.

Tips - Eat a handful of green seedless grapes as a healthy and simple way to add this fruit to your diet.  Halve green seedless grapes and add them to a fruit salad or a tossed green salad.  Freeze whole green grapes for a refreshing treat on a hot day.  Puree green grapes into a fruit smoothie or scatter them over a bowl of hot or cold cereal.  Top grilled pork chops or chicken breasts with a fruit salsa made form chopped green grapes, diced red onion and a squirt of lime juice.

One of my favorite in the fruit group.  I love all of them, especially if they are seedless.  They make great salads on their own as well as combined with chicken.  And they are good for us!  Here is what I found.

With the exception of Antarctica, grapes are cultivated on all of the earth's continents, and researchers from many different countries have been especially interested in this food mainly due to their amazing nutrient composition.  Every year the list of health-supportive grape nutrients grows longer.  Grapes have been shown to contain the hormone and antioxidant melatonin as well as unique oligopeptides (small protein-line molecules) that have anti-bacterial and other properties.  Areas of benefit in grape research include the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, immune system, inflammatory system, blood sugar regulating system and nervous system.  Another area of special benefit is cancer prevention, with risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer emerging as the most likely areas of grape anti-cancer benefits.

Antioxidant Benefits - Grapes and grape components can - help prevent certain oxygen-related enzymes form becoming overactive. - increase our blood levels of glutathione (a critical antioxidant nutrient) and also increases the ratio of reduced-to-oxidized glutathione (one important measure of antioxidant capacity).  - helps protect cell membranes form free radical damage. - lowers levels of oxygen reactive molecules in our blood. - reduces oxidation of fat. - lowers biomarkers of oxidative stress.

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits - Grapes also provide us with strong anti-inflammatory benefits.  They have been determined to lower our risk of excessive and unwanted inflammation in a variety of ways.  Many pro-inflammatory messaging molecules can have their activity level reduced by grape intake.

Cardiovascular Benefits - These cardio benefits have been demonstrated in research studies on grapes and grape components - they help regulate blood pressure, including blood pressure reduction if high. - help regulate total cholesterol, including total cholesterol reduction if high. - they reduce LDL cholesterol levels. - reduce LDL oxidation. - reduce levels of reactive oxygen molecules in the blood. - reduce likelihood of cell adhesion to the blood vessel walls. - provide less clumping together of platelet cells, when inappropriate. - enhance release of nitric oxide form endothelial cells lining the blood vessel walls in situations where vasodilation is needed. - help regulate inflammatory in the blood. - increases the levels of glutathione in the blood.

Blood Sugar Benefits - In terms of blood sugar regulation, not all fruits are created equal.  Watermelon for example has a relatively high glycemic index value in the range of 70-75 and is not considered to be a food that can be freely eaten by persons having difficulty with blood sugar balance.  Grapes, on the other hand, have long been classified as a low glycemic index food with GI values ranging between 43-53.  In the case of grapes, recent studies have shown that the low GI value of grapes is a good indicator of this fruit's blood sugar benefits.  Studies have now connected grape intake to better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation, and increased insulin sensitivity.  It is suspected that the strong phytonutrient content of grapes plays a key role in providing these sugar-related benefits.

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