Grapes Health Benefits; Grapes, also known as Draksha in Ayurveda, is a famous fruit, botanically a berry of the deciduous woody vines of the flowering plant genus Vitis. Grapes offer various range of health and medicinal benefits. It can be consumed as a fresh fruit, dried, or in the form of juice. Grapes and Grape seeds consist of nutrients such as vitamins C and E. They have strong antioxidant activity making them beneficial in clearing the skin and making it look healthy and fresh. Regular application of Grapes in the form of a face pack can protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet radiation as well as prevent damage caused because of free radicals, thus reducing wrinkles and dark spots. When grape juice is consumed regularly, it can fight certain diseases, making the immune system stronger.
Along with its various health benefits, excessive intake of Grapes or Grape juice may cause hyperacidity due to its high acidic nature. It sometimes may also result in abdominal discomfort, which may lead to diarrhea. Grapes have a semi-translucent flesh which is covered by a smooth skin. Some grapes contain edible seeds, while others are seedless.
Like blueberries, grapes are often covered by a protective, whitish bloom. Grapes that are eaten as it is or used in various recipes. The grapes used for recipes are called table grapes and as opposed to wine grapes, which are used in viniculture, or raisin grapes, which are used to make dried fruit.
The History of Grapes
The cultivation of grapes started 6000-8000 years ago in the Near East. The yeast, which is one of the earliest domesticated microorganisms, occurs naturally on the grapes' skin. This led to the discovery of alcoholic drinks, such as wine. The oldest winery, which was found is in Armenia, dated back to 4000 BC. In the 9th century AD, the city of Shiraz, the fifth-most-populous city of Iran and the capital of Fars Province, also known as Persia, produced the finest wine in the Middle East.
The Ancient Egyptians recorded the cultivation of purple grapes. History attests to the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans of growing purple grapes both for eating and wine production. The concept of cultivation of grapes had later spread to other regions in Europe, North Africa, and eventually in North America.
In North America, native grapes that belonged to various species of the genus Vitis are cultivated in the wild across the continent and were a part of the diet of many Native Americans. However, they were considered by early European colonists to be unsuitable for winemaking.
Grapes are the kind of fruits that usually grow in clusters of 15 to 300. Their color can range up to crimson, black, a dark shade of blue, yellow, green, orange, and pink. White grapes exist too, but they are green in color. The white color is the result of evolution, which is derived from purple grapes. When mutation takes place in two regulatory genes of white grapes, it turns off the production of anthocyanins. These are the water-soluble vacuolar pigments, that depending on their pH, may appear red, blue, purple, or black. In simple words, it is responsible for the color of purple grapes.
From a botanical standpoint, one of the most popular and widely cultivated table and wine grapes is Vitis vinifera (Common Grape Vine), and several thousand varieties of this grape exist across Europe. In the United States, native species of Vitis grapes include Vitis labrusca (which includes the Concord grape) and Vitis rotundifolia (which includes the muscadine grapes). In Asia, one native grape that is widely-cultivated is Vitis amurensis (the Amur grape). And from a commercial standpoint, varieties of grapes from around the world have now been hybridized to produce unique blends of flavor, texture, and environmental suitability.
The Types of Grapes
Table or Wine Grapes
The grapes that are commercially cultivated are also called table grapes or wine grapes, based on their intended consumption method. While almost all of them belong to the same species, Vitis Vinifera, table grapes and wine grapes have significant differences. They are brought about through something called "selective breeding." Those who cultivate table grapes tend to have large, seedless fruits with relatively thin skin. Whereas wine grapes are smaller, usually seeded, and have relatively thick skins, which is a much desirable characteristic in winemaking since much of the aroma in wine comes from the grapes' skin. Wine grapes also tend to be very sweet. They are harvested at the time when their juice is approximately 24% sugar by weight. In comparison, commercially produced "100% grape juice", made from table grapes, is usually around 15% sugar by weight.
Those who cultivate seedless grapes now make up most of the majority of table grape plantings. Grapevines are usually vegetatively propagated; this means that any form of asexual reproduction which takes place in plants where a new plant will grow from a fragment of the parent plant or a specialized reproductive structure. This means that the lack of seed in the grapes does not present any problems. It becomes an issue for breeders when they must either use a seeded variety as the female parent or rescue embryos early in development using the tissue culture techniques.
Several sources of the seedlessness trait exist, and essentially all commercial cultivators get it from one of three sources. They are the Thompson seedless, Russian seedless, and the black monukka. All being cultivars of Vitis vinidera. There are currently more than a dozen varieties of seedless grapes. And several of them, such as Einset Seedless, Benjamin Gunnels's Prime seedless grapes, Reliance, and Venus, have been specially cultivated for hardiness and premium quality in the relatively cold climates of the northeastern United States and southern Ontario. The disadvantage in eating the improved quality of seedless grapes is the loss of potential health benefits provided by the enriched phytochemical content of grape seeds.
Raisins, Currants, and Sultanas
In several parts of Europe and North America, dried grapes are called "raisins." A raisin is any form of dried grape. While the word "raisin" is a French load word, the French word refers to the fresh fruit grappe. From this word, English translation for grape was derived. It simply refers to the bunch of grapes, which is usually observed.
Currant is the dried Zante Black Corinth grape. This name is a corruption of the French “raisin de Corinthe” or the Corinth grape. Currant also refers to the blackcurrant and the redcurrant. The two berries are unrelated to grapes.
A sultana was originally a raisin made from the Sultana grapes of Turkish origin, also known as Thompson Seedless in the United States. But the word is now applied to raisins made from either white grapes or red grapes that are bleached to resemble the traditional sultana.
Benefits of Grapes
Scientific View: Constipation is infrequent bowel movement or difficulty in passing stool. Constipation is generally described as having less than three bowel movements a week. According to scientific studies, grapes are quite helpful in relieving individual constipation. Its organic acid, sugar, and cellulose in the fruit provide us with its laxative properties. Grapes are also believed to cure chronic constipation by toning up intestinal muscles and the stomach. Grapes are also quite high in insoluble fibre, which helps clean the system.
Ayurvedic View: According to Ayurveda, constipation is caused due to a disrupted Vata dosha. This can have various reasons like following an unhealthy lifestyle or eating an excessive amount of junk food, excess consumption of tea or coffee and improper sleep pattern, stress, and depression. All these factors greatly disrupt the Vata dosha in the large intestine and cause constipation. Grapes help in managing constipation because of their Vata balancing and sara, which is the mobility properties. Grapes increase the smoothness of the intestines and help in the easy expulsion of stool from the body.
- Take ½ to 1 cup of grapes or as per your requirement.
- Consume it during breakfast or two to three hours after meals.
Scientific View: Grapes contain fibre and potassium, which both contribute greatly to the health of the heart. The polyphenols that exist in the grapes, such as resveratrol, are thought to have antioxidant, lipid-lowering, and anti-inflammatory actions, which might reduce the risk of heart-related problems like cardiovascular disease. Grapes can help prevent the building up of platelet and reduce blood pressure and the risk of irregular heart rhythms.
Ayurvedic View: According to Ayurveda, grapes help manage heart disease because this fruit can prevent damage of coronary endothelial cells. This happens mainly because of the grape's potent antioxidant properties. It can also increase the level of nitric oxide and help in the relaxation of blood vessels. Grapes also help in controlling blood pressure and greatly reduce the risk of heart disease.
Scientific view: Our skin is primarily made of a protein called collagen. This is produced by cells known as fibroblasts. When the skin or any other tissue, for that matter, is wounded or has any tear, the wound-healing process initiates the generation of new fibroblasts to produce scar collagen. This is different from the usual collagen found in the skin.
The grape-seed extract may help skin wounds heal faster, with less scarring. A new study suggests that the extract seemed to aid wound healing in two ways, It helps the body make more of the compound used to regenerate damaged blood vessels, and it also increased the number of free radicals in the affected area. Free radicals help clear potentially pathogenic bacteria from a wound, leaving fewer chances of infections and scarring.
Ayurvedic view: Grapes are beneficial in the regeneration of the skin. When the grape seed extract is applied to the affected area, it promotes new skin cells' multiplication. Grape seed extract also consists of antioxidant properties that promote wound closure.
According to Ayurveda, grape pulp helps in controlling the swelling of the wound and can bring back the normal texture of the skin. This is mainly because of its ropan property, also known as the healing property. Grapes can also reduce inflammation because of its sita (cold) nature.
- Take two to five drops of grape-seed oil
- Add coconut oil to it
- Mix these two oils together and apply it to the affected area at least once or twice a day for the quick healing of wounds.
Age-Related Memory Loss
Scientific View: Grapes provide us with some important cognitive benefits. It is said that the daily consumption of Concord grape juice in a 1-2 cup amount over a period of several months has been shown to improve memory loss. Studies and research conducted on animals have shown that excessive accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the brain can be prevented with the moderate intake of grape extracts, as can excessive accumulation of beta-amyloid protein in the hippocampus region of the brain.
Synthesis of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules in the brain, which includes the IL-6, IL-1B, and TNF-alpha, has also been reduced due to grape extracts. While large-scale human studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits, we can expect that grapes' benefits can be proved with further research.
Ayurvedic View: From an ayurvedic perspective, grapes are beneficial in managing age-related memory loss. Aging is associated with an increase in the number of free radicals, which leads to the degeneration of neurons. Flavonoids, which exists in grapes, is said to improve brain function greatly. Grapes also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Grape juice is also known to contribute to memory function improvement in older people who show symptoms of memory decline.
Additional Benefits of Grapes
- Anti-inflammatory benefits of grapes: Besides the grape's strong antioxidant support, it also provides us with equally strong anti-inflammatory benefits. Research studies conducted in this area hardly involved dietary consumption of whole grapes, but rather supplemental consumptions of grape components or grape extracts. However, we have every reason to believe that the whole, fresh grapes offer these same anti-inflammatory benefits. Perhaps, just not to the same extent in a short-term situation like the few weeks or months that characterize most research studies. It's important to remember that grapes greatly contribute to our health, and these fruits can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
- Grapes have also been determined to lower the risk of excessive and unwanted inflammation in various ways. Many pro-inflammatory messaging molecules can have their activity level reduced by the consumption of grapes. These molecules include interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 1-beta (IL-1B), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). Overproduction of the pro-inflammatory enzymes cyclo-oxygenase 1 and 2 (COX-1 and COX-2) is also less likely following grape components' consumption.
- Cardiovascular Benefits of Grapes: Our body's cardiovascular system gets the most benefits of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules present in the grapes. As the cells in our body need protection from the potential oxygen damage, especially in our arteries, where the oxygen concentration in our blood is especially high, grapes can provide strong antioxidant support.
The consumption of grapes in the form of red wine has been regarded as a way of understanding the "French Paradox." The French paradox talks about how the French people consume high levels of fat in their diet but are also observed to have a much lower heart disease level than would be expected from a population that consumes such a large amount of saturated fat. One of the reasons might also be that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties support provided to their cardiovascular system regularly by red wine. The idea that red wine, which comes from red grapes, could help in explaining the French Paradox is just one more reason for us to consider grapes as a helpful addition to a heart-healthy diet.
- Precautions to take while using grapes: Grapes may have a high chance of interfering with coagulant drugs. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare professional before consuming grapes along with the coagulant drugs.
- It is said that grapes may interact with liver metabolism. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with your healthcare professional before consuming grapes while taking drugs that are metabolized by the liver.
- Grapes may also interact with analgesic and antipyretic drugs. It is highly recommended to consult your healthcare professional before consuming grapes with analgesic and antipyretic drugs.
Side-Effects of Grapes
- Stomach related problems
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
How to Properly use Grapes
1. Grape Seed Extract Powder
- Take 1-2 pinch of Grape Seed Extract Powder.
- Mix with honey and water and have it after your meals once or twice a day.
2. Grape Powder
- Take ¼-½ teaspoon Grape Powder.
- Mix with water. Add honey for taste c. Drink it after lunch and dinner.
3. Ripe Grapes
- Take a ½-1 cup of Grapes or as per your requirement.
- Consume them, preferably during breakfast or 2-3 hours after meals.
4. Grapes Capsules
- Take 1-2 capsules of Grapes.
- Take them with water twice a day, preferably after meals.
5. Grapes Juice
- Take 1-2 glasses of Grape juice as per your requirement.
- Drink it, preferably at breakfast or in the afternoon.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can grapes cause a yeast infection?
Ans. No, grapes do not cause yeast infections. This is because the polyphenols which are present in the grapes possess the potential antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activities. Studies state that grapes can help to inhibit microbial growth, especially Escherichia coli.
From an ayurvedic perspective, leading an unhealthy lifestyle and following an unhealthy diet is responsible for causing yeast infections and cause an imbalance of vata dosha. The imbalance of the vata dosha is the main reason for yeast infections. Grapes possess vata balancing properties and greatly help in managing such an ailment.
Q. Can grapes help with urinary problems?
Ans. Yes, grapes can help with problems related to urine-like cystitis and pain during urination. Grapes act as diuretics, thus helping the body increase the frequency and volume of the urine. Grapes also soothe the lining of the bladder.
According to Ayurveda, grapes are quite useful for managing urinary problems like burning sensation and pain during urination. This is mainly because of its sita property, which is the cooling property that exists in the fruit. This property relieves the individual of pain during urination. Grapes also increase the urine flow due to its mutral (diuretic) nature.
Q. Are grapes good for fertility?
Ans. Yes, grapes are beneficial for both men and women in improving fertility. For males, grapes help in improving sperm count, sperm movement, and sperm quality. Grapes are also quite helpful in improving conditions like erectile dysfunctions and premature ejaculation. Whereas in females, grapes help in greatly strengthening the reproductive system of the body.
According to Ayurveda, grapes help in maintaining good sexual wellness in both males and females. This is mainly due to its vrushya property, which is also known as the property that improves vigour. Consuming grapes daily can help manage erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in males and increase libido in females.
Q. How do grapes help in the case of acne?
Ans. Acne is mainly caused because of the acne-causing bacteria on the clogged pores of the skin. Studies state that polyphenols, which are found in the grapes, possess antimicrobial activity, which helps in controlling acne and pimples.