All varieties of grapes are full of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and are low in calories. Like all other fruits, eating grapes as part of a healthy diet could offer many health benefits along with helping to keep your waist line trim.
Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lowering risk for certain diseases. Grape skins are also high in an antioxidant called reservatrol.
Many studies have been done on reservatrol, and researchers are still studying the full effects this antioxidant has on the body.
Grapes are surprisingly versatile and can be enjoyed numerous ways. Since they are fairly sweet, enjoying them in place of higher calorie desserts can satisfy your sweet tooth and can help fill you up without packing on excess calories.
Nutrition profile of grapes
Depending on the variety and size of grape, a cup of grapes provides around 60-100 calories. Grapes are virtually fat free and provide little protein.
They are primarily carbohydrates, and grapes also provide fiber. A cup of grapes provides about 1-2 grams of fiber.
A cup of grapes provides around 200 mg of potassium, about 6% Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, 5% DV of vitamin B6 and provides about 1% DV of calcium, beta carotene (vitamin A), iron and magnesium.
Grape seeds have the highest concentration of antioxidants followed by grape skins and lastly the flesh part of the grape.
Red and purple grapes have a high concentration of the antioxidants in the anthocyanin family. Anthocyanins are responsible for providing the red/purple color.
Reservatrol, quercetin and flavonoids are other polyphenols from grapes that have shown to have beneficial health effects in the body.
Having a diet high in antioxidants from foods, like grapes, may help lower inflammation and protect cells from damage by free radicals.
Reservatrol has also been shown in some animal studies to influence insulin sensitivity and energy expenditure.
A 2014 study (2) in humans found reservatrol helps regulate energy expenditure from muscles in type 2 diabetics.
Reservatrol may influence muscle energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity, but more research is needed.
Grapes can be beneficial for heart health for many reasons. First, like other fruits and vegetables, grapes are a source of potassium.
Getting enough potassium is recommended for heart health by helping to regulate blood pressure levels in a healthy range and helping to regulate heart rate.
A serving of grapes provides about 200 mg of potassium, and the RDA for potassium for healthy adults is 4,700 mg of potassium per day.
Most Americans don’t get the recommended daily potassium intake from food, so adding grapes and other fruits and vegetables to the diet can help you reach the RDA.
Reservatrol has been shown in some studies to be cardio protective. According to the California Table Grape Commission (3), human studies have shown eating a variety of grapes can help relax blood vessels to increase blood flow.
Wine made from grapes has also been shown to have cardio protective benefits. Drinking wine in moderation is associated with protecting heart health from the reservatrol from grapes.
A 2009 review (4) Grapes, Wine, Reservatrol and Heart Health concluded that reservatrol from wine and grapes can play a crucial role in protecting cardiovascular health.
Weight loss benefit
Grapes are nutrient dense and a rich source of antioxidants which can translate into offering protection against damage, especially for the cardiovascular system.
However, can eating grapes really help you lose weight?
No matter what the food, eating any particular food won’t dramatically take pounds of fat off your body.
Rather, through eating a diet high in low calorie nutrient dense foods, like grapes, you can fill up on satisfying foods without getting excess energy for your body.
All fruits and vegetables are high in water content and have fiber. This means you can eat a larger volume of these foods and you can feel satiated which can be beneficial for weight loss.
Eating grapes in place of more calorie dense foods, like candy, cookies, chips, etc. can be helpful for weight loss.
What about the sugar in grapes?
Grapes are fairly high in sugar, so is that a concern for weight loss and type 2 diabetes risk? Not according to research, in fact the opposite is true.
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (5) found from their research of analyzing over 185,000 peoples’ diets that eating more whole fruits was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
However, drinking fruit juice was not associated with a lowered risk for type 2 diabetes, in fact, drinking juice was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers found people who drank juice one or more times a day increased their risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 21%.
The bottom line is the health benefits from eating whole fruits is not always the same from just drinking juice.
Based on this, it is recommended to eat whole grapes as much as possible instead of drinking grape juice.
If you already have diabetes or are taking insulin, speak with your healthcare team before adding grapes to your diet.
Besides snacking on fresh grapes for a snack, you can add grapes to salads or in smoothies. You can also freeze grapes for a frozen sweet treat, or blend up frozen grapes to make a sorbet.
See also: Is sugar in fruit unhealthy?
Grapes can be part of a healthy diet for weight loss. By eating nutrient dense foods that are low in calories, you can keep yourself feeling full and satisfied.
Replacing grapes for other higher calorie sweets or snacks can be a healthy substitute.
The antioxidants found in grapes have been shown to have cardio protective health benefit, and they may even influence muscle metabolism.
Eating whole fruits, like grapes, can also help lower risk for type 2 diabetes compared to drinking juice.