Health Benefits of Grapes

I have been eating and enjoying organic red grapes in recent weeks and months. They are such a nice, easy snack to carry along when I'm on the run or enjoy at home. Though I can eat them whole, when visiting my Mom who has difficulty swallowing and is concerned about choking, I noticed that the health aid cut the grapes in half. This is a good practice for small children as well, as the round solid shape can easily cause choking in the young or those with swallowing challenges. 

In the case of grapes, organic is best, because there are many surfaces that are eaten directly that have very likely been contaminated with pesticides in non-organic varieties. This is one fruit that I prefer eating organic.

Studies done some years back suggest that eating fresh grapes may prevent the accumulation of harmful oxidized cholesterol as well as the development of atherosclerosis lesions. According to the study, as reported in the Journal of Nutrition (vol. 135, pp. 722-728, 2005.), naturally occurring antioxidants in fresh grapes known as polyphenols are believed to be responsible for this beneficial impact.
In order to ensure the scientific validity of grape health studies, a representative sample of fresh California grapes was collected, freeze-dried and ground into an edible grape powder. The grape powder used in this study contains all of the biologically active compounds found in fresh grapes.

"We found a remarkable reduction in the development of atherosclerosis following consumption of grape powder," said principal investigator Bianca Fuhrman, Senior Scientist at the Lipid Research Laboratory headed by Dr. Michael Aviram at the Rambam Medical Center in Israel. "Grapes contain an abundance of powerful antioxidants that appear to inhibit an array of critical factors that can cause atherosclerosis."
Atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, is the result of cholesterol build-up on the arterial wall, which leads to blockage of the vessels that supply blood to the heart or the brain, resulting in a heart attack or stroke, respectively. Blood cholesterol is carried throughout the body by two lipoproteins. Low density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the "bad" cholesterol, deposits cholesterol in arterial walls when it is present in excess. High density lipoprotein (HDL), or the "good" cholesterol, removes the excess cholesterol from the arteries to the liver and out of the body. When cholesterol is damaged by oxidation, such as oxidized LDL cholesterol, it is more easily deposited in the arterial walls, leading to a blockage of the vessels. Diseases caused by atherosclerosis are the leading cause of illness and death in the U.S.
Dr. Fuhrman's study showed that grape polyphenols reduced oxidative stress, increased serum antioxidant capacity, reduced cell uptake of oxidized LDL cholesterol and decreased the oxidation of LDL in general. These processes eventually reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in the cells and prevent foam cell formation, thus inhibiting the development of atherosclerosis.
"We are pleased to see studies such as this further the mounting evidence that grapes exert a protective role in heart health," said Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission. "Importantly, this work provides insight that grapes impact a number of mechanisms that may lead to a reduction in atherosclerosis.
Make 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day your and lead your children towards a life of health, happiness, vitality, and longevity. 

Image Credit: Jill111 Pixabay

Updated 10/31/18

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