Grapes are a fresh and sweet fruit which, thanks to the polyphenol content, is useful for inflammation, neuroprotection and the cardiovascular system.
Grapes are the small fruit of the Vitis Vinifera plant, round or oval, which has a semi-transparent pulp enclosed by a smooth skin. Some types contain edible seeds, while others are completely seedless. The grapes that are eaten are called table grapes, but there are also wine grapes (used in viticulture) and raisins (dried). The set of fruits takes the name of cluster.
There are commonly two different types of grapes : white and black grapes. In the first case, the grapes that make up the bunch are green or yellow; in the second case the berries have a color that varies from red to dark purple, almost black.
As far as white grapes are concerned, the most widespread and appreciated varieties are the Italia grape and the queen grape. These types of grapes are the most popular to be consumed fresh thanks to their sweet flavor. Precisely for this reason, in fact, white grapes are more widespread on consumers’ tables, compared to black grapes, which instead are more appreciated for making wine.
Grapes: calories and nutritional properties
Many people who decide to go on a diet are convinced that they must necessarily avoid grapes: let’s see together the nutritional values of grapes and if it is really necessary to limit their consumption. Let’s start by saying that it is not a particularly caloric food : 100 g of white grapes contain about 86 kcal, a little more than the same amount of apple. The bad news is that 100 g of grapes correspond on average to 8-12 grapes: it is therefore generally true that we must be careful not to exceed in quantities. It should be kept in mind, however, that white grapes are more caloric than black ones which, on the other hand, only provide 53 kcal.
The quantity of proteins and fats is almost irrelevant, while we find more than 20 g of sugars in the 100 g of reference grapes, equally divided between fructose and glucose. Furthermore, the glycemic index of grapes is moderate and for this reason in diets and in particular in the case of diabetes, it is sometimes required to pay attention to its consumption. This does not mean that it should not be eaten, but that it will be important to pay attention to the quantity and combinations.
From the point of view of minerals and vitamins, grapes contain a good amount of vitamin C, vitamin B6 (a very important vitamin for the production of energy by our cells), potassium and copper, as well as malic and tartaric acid. and citric.
Among the antioxidants, we recall that grapes are one of the best natural sources of resveratrol but also contain beta-carotene, quercetin, lutein, lycopene and ellagic acid. In the following table we report the nutritional values of white grapes.
Nutritional values per 100g of white grapes:
- Waterfall: 77.2 g
- kcal: 86
- Proteins: 0.4 g
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Carbohydrates: 21.5 g
- Fibers: 1.4 g
- Potassium: 200 mg
- Soccer: 33 mg
- Phosphorus: 250 mg
- Copper: 0.27 mg
- Iron: 0.4 mg
- C vitamin: 8 mg
- Vitamin B1: 0.04 mg
- Vitamin B2: 0.03 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.10 mg
- Vit A retinol equivalent: 20 μg
- Glycemic index: 45
- Cholesterol: 0 g
White grapes and black grapes: the nutritional differences
The nutritional properties of grapes do not undergo major differences with respect to the type of grape. The main differences between white grapes and black grapes consist in the fact that white grapes are more sugary and consequently more pleasant to taste. Black grapes, on the other hand, are richer in antioxidants and in particular in resveratrol. It therefore appears to be more beneficial to our health. The supply of vitamins and minerals, on the other hand, is quite similar while, as we have seen, white grapes contain more calories than black ones.
Grapes: health benefits
We saw in the previous paragraph that grapes are a fruit rich in some minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin c and copper. However, it is above all the presence of polyphenols that gives the grapes many beneficial properties. Let’s see which are those reported by the literature and therefore confirmed by scientific studies.
✓ Benefits for cardiovascular health
The consumption of grapes, thanks to the presence of polyphenols, has been associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. In fact, polyphenols help lower LDL cholesterol (the so-called “bad cholesterol”) and help reduce triglyceride levels. Furthermore, red wine, consumed in moderation, has been associated with a decrease in cholesterol absorption.
Fiber and potassium also support heart health – increasing potassium intake and decreasing sodium consumption is the single most important dietary change a person can make to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, potassium intake is also associated with a reduction in the risk of stroke, protects against muscle mass loss, preserves bone mineral density and reduces the formation of kidney stones.
✓ Beneficial properties against allergies
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin (polyphenol that grapes are rich in), consuming this fruit could help relieve the symptoms of allergies.
✓ Grapes against constipation
Consuming foods that are high in water such as grapes, watermelon and cantaloupe helps keep the body hydrated and regulates bowel movements. Grapes also contain fiber, which is essential for minimizing constipation.
✓ Diabetes and insulin resistance
Although it is still advisable to pay attention to the quantity of grapes consumed in case of diabetes, some studies report that the intake of polyphenols is linked to an improvement in glycation processes. Furthermore, the consumption of dealcoholated wine has been linked to a reduction in insulin levels and an improvement in the glycemia: insulin ratio, which results in a reduced risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. Additionally, it appears that resveratrol may help protect against diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy, both of which are caused by diabetes .poorly controlled which severely damage eyesight.
✓ Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity connected to grapes and the products deriving from them are due, once again, to the presence of resveratrol, which is useful in counteracting the action of free radicals and inflammatory states. The antioxidants in grapes are mainly concentrated in the peel and seeds. Furthermore, these antioxidants remain present and active even after fermentation, which is why red wine is also rich in these compounds.
✓ Neuoprotective effect
Eating grapes is good because it can also benefit brain health and improve memory. Specifically, in a test carried out on healthy elderly subjects, 250 mg of grape extract per day, taken for 12 weeks, significantly improved memory levels and language skills. Furthermore, resveratrol contained in grapes has been linked to a reduction in neuronal damage and neurodegeneration.
✓ Supports the immune system
In both animals and humans (despite still limited evidence) it has been found that the consumption of grapes and grape juice is linked to improved immunity, probably due to the content of vitamin C and numerous antioxidants.
Grapes, strawberry grapes and gooseberries: what are the differences?
We have already said a lot about the white grapes and the black grapes that we are used to know. However, there are other types of fruits that resemble grapes , but which have important differences.
An example is the gooseberry, a plant that belongs to the same family as the currant. This fruit, like most of the fruits of the undergrowth, is very rich in polyphenols and contains a lower quantity of sugars than grapes and therefore is also suitable for diabetics.
The strawberry grape, on the other hand, is the grape variety commonly called “American”: it was in fact imported from the new continent as it was immune to some parasites that risked destroying European grape crops. The berries of strawberry grapes are generally smaller and have a flavor that resembles that of another fruit: the strawberry, of course! From the strawberry grape we obtain the fragolino wine, whose sale (but not the production) is however prohibited in Italy and in most of Europe. The fragolino wine that we find on the market, in fact, is essentially a strawberry flavored wine.
How to eat grapes and what you can do with them
The easiest way to consume grapes is to eat them fresh, one grape after another, as a snack between one meal and the next or even at the end of a meal, especially if it hasn’t been high in carbohydrates.
Fresh grapes can also be used in different recipes: it goes very well with cheeses and meats. With grapes it is possible to prepare good fruit salads with seasonal fruit or make an extract, for example with grapes, apples and pomegranate or grapes and pears. You can also add some grains to salads. It is also quite common to find it as the main ingredient in some sweets.
This fruit is also well suited to the preparation of a tasty grape jam, recommended for all those who are lucky enough to have a vine in their garden and are wondering how to use the leftover grapes. Grape juice is also a good solution for consuming excess grapes. In addition to being good, it is also a useful remedy for constipation if consumed in the morning on an empty stomach.
How many grapes to eat per day?
We have seen together that, like many fruits, grapes also contain a fair amount of sugar. We therefore suggest that you pay attention to the quantities of grapes consumed. During its season, that is from July until late autumn, we can fill up with grapes, but it is advisable not to consume more than two portions a day. Recall that a portion of fruit (and therefore also of grapes) corresponds to about 150 grams, equivalent, in this case, to a small bunch.
Sweets and jam, on the other hand, must be limited, following the rules of proper nutrition: one or two teaspoons of jam can be eaten with a slice of wholemeal bread for breakfast. Grape-based cakes are not recommended every day: better to limit them to special occasions. Now let’s see when it is good not to eat grapes or in any case limit their consumption.
Contraindications of grapes
As for the contraindications of grapes we have already seen that it is a fruit rich in sugars and with a medium glycemic index. This is not an absolute contraindication that prevents its consumption; however, especially in the case of diabetes or insulin resistance, it is advisable not to consume it in large quantities and possibly always consume it together with dried fruit, to lower the glycemic load of the meal. Also, in case of diarrhea, it is good to avoid this fruit due to its anti-constipation power.
Furthermore, an interaction of grapes with anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs is reported: if you are on therapy with these drugs, always ask your doctor. Similarly, those taking beta-blocker drugs should consume potassium-rich foods such as grapes in moderation, as well as those with kidney disease.