Grapes

Latin name: Vitis vinifera from Europe, Vitis labrusca and Vitis rotundifolia from
North America

What are Grapes?
When you think of grapes, perhaps you think of the lavish feasts of the Ancient Greeks or a goblet brimming with wine. Grapes have been revered for their use in winemaking since the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Varieties of grapes number in the thousands, but only about twenty are eaten as table grapes. In fact, less than 15% of the world’s grapes are eaten raw, while the rest are made into jelly or juice, dried to make raisins, or fermented to make wine.

There is evidence for the cultivation of grapes in Egyptian tomb paintings dating back to 2440 BC, and up until now the crop remains widely cultivated in Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East for its deliciousness and health benefits.

What are the health benefits of Grapes?
Warming in nature, grapes are thought by traditional Chinese medicine to be helpful in nourishing the blood, strengthening bones and tendons, harmonizing the stomach, and relieving irritability; they are used in the treatment of certain types of arthritis, tendonitis, painful urination, hepatitis, jaundice, anemia, and flu.

Though wine is one of the oldest medicines, the medical establishment caught on two decades ago when the concept of “The French Paradox” was introduced to the public. This hypothesis states that although the French enjoy a diet very high in saturated fats, their risk for cardiovascular disease is much lower than other populations because of their moderate consumption of red wine (one to two glasses with lunch or dinner). Indeed, the saponins in grapes prevent the absorption of cholesterol while grapes’ content of resveratrol reduces artery damage caused by LDL cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and maintains the flexibility of the heart muscle.

The resveratrol found in grape skins also inhibits the formation of blood clots, which lowers stroke risk. Additionally, resveratrol lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and may help prevent many cancers, including lung, breast, liver, colorectal, and prostate.
Red wine also slows down the process of macular degeneration, whereby vision is progressively lost, and reduces inflammation throughout the body. One need not drink alcoholic red wine, however, to reap all of these health benefits. Alcohol-free red wine and red grape juice, though to a lesser extent, have both been found beneficial.

More information about the healing powers of Grape Seed Extract can be found in the Herb section.

Where can I find grapes?
Grapes and grape products can be found in most grocery stores. Fresh grapes are sold at some outdoor markets in season. American varieties are available in the autumn.

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This entry was posted in Foods, Natural Health Dictionary.