Grapes scientifically known as Vitis vinifera is a small round berries growing in clusters on a perennial and deciduous woody vine in the genus Vitis. The word grape was derived from the Old French term grap, which means bunch or cluster, and is also the term for a long hook used to harvest these clustered fruits. They are widely viewed as the queen of the fruits in many cultures since ancient times and are native to Mediterranean region, central Europe, and Asia Minor.
They are available in seeded and seedless varieties.
The crop has a wide adaptability, and grapes are now grown in every continent, under temperate, subtropical, and tropical climatic conditions, and under varied agro-ecological settings, from mountains to plains to sea coasts. However, the ideal climate for grapes is in the Eastern region.
In its natural habitat, the grape grows and produces during the hot and dry period, and undergoes dormancy during the cold period. The worldwide distribution of grapes is linked to the high genetic plasticity of this crop, which enables its adaptation to temperate, subtropical, and tropical regions.
Grapes are vigorous, climbing woody, deciduous, perennial climber growing up to 15–20 m long. It prefers long, warm to hot dry summers and mild winters and grows best in deep, fertile, well-drained soil. Branchlets are terete, with longitudinal ridges, glabrous or sparsely pilose with branched tendrils. Leaves are simple, green, alternate; stipules caducous; petioles 4–9 cm and nearly glabrous; leaf blade circular to circular-ovate in outline, conspicuously 3–5-lobed or cleft, 7–18 cm by 6–16 cm, basal veins 5, lateral veins 4 or 5 pairs, base deeply cordate, margin irregularly serrate to dentate. Flower is bisexual or functionally pistillate with shorter sterile stamens, greenish in color. Single grape vine have about 40 clusters of grapes; each grape cluster has an average of 75 grapes.
Grape is a fruiting berry of the deciduous woody vines of the botanical genus Vitis. Grapes are normally a berry, ellipsoid to globose, 6–25 mm diameter, with soft skin adhering to the pulp and are normally dark blue-purple, black, red, green, yellow, crimson, orange, and pink in color. Semi-translucent flesh is covered by smooth, thin skin. It has sweet, tart flavor and juicy, sweet, refreshing taste. Some contain edible seeds while others are seedless. Like blueberries, grapes are often covered by a protective, whitish bloom. Grape consists of 2-3 seeds that are obovoid to pyriform, apex sub rounded. Grapes are made up of 80% water, which make them a low-calorie dessert or snack. Raisins (dried grapes) are made up of about 15% water. Grapes can be consumed fresh as table grapes or they can be used for making wine, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, and grape seed oil. Grapes are a non-climacteric type of fruit, normally occurring in clusters.
History of Grapes
Vitis vinifera (Grapes) is native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and Asia Minor, from Portugal north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran. It is cultivated on every continent except for Antarctica. Due to its higher nutritional value and its delightful taste it is grown throughout the world.
Nutritional Value of Grapes
Apart from their sweet, tart flavor and juicy, sweet, refreshing taste, grape is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 151 gram of grapes offers 0.192 mg of Copper, 27.33 g of Carbohydrate, 22 µg of Vitamin K, 0.13 mg of Vitamin B6, 0.104 mg of Vitamin B1 and 0.106 mg of Vitamin B2. Moreover many Amino acids 0.017 g of Tryptophan, 0.033 g of Threonine, 0.017 g of Isoleucine, 0.033 g of Leucine and 0.041 g of Lysine are also found in 151 gram of grapes.
Health benefits of Grapes
Grapes, probably the most scrumptious fruits, are abundant options for vitamins A, C, B6 as well as folate along with important minerals just like potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Grapes consist of flavonoids which are extremely effective anti-oxidants, which could decrease the harm brought on by free-radicals as well as loosen aging. A number of the health advantages of Grapes are shown beneath:
1. Bone Health
Grapes are a wonderful source of micro-nutrients like manganese, copper and iron, all of which are essential for the development and strength of the bones. Including grapes into your diet on a regular basis prevent the start of age-related disorders like osteoporosis. Manganese is an extremely important element in the body, which helps in everything from protein metabolism, collagen formation, and nervous system functioning.
Regular consumption of grapes helps to live a longer, healthier life. Resveratrol is a stilbene phytonutrient mostly found in the grape skins, grape seeds and grape flesh, has been shown to increase expression of three genes all related to longevity. Research show that resveratrol content differs considerably with genetic background, but normally, resveratrol totals are lower in the leaves than the skins. It means nutrition of grape skin is responsible to extend life.
3. Heart diseases
Grapes help to increase the nitric oxide levels in the blood, which help in preventing blood clots. Therefore, grape is an effective way to lessen the chances of heart attacks. Apart from that antioxidants present in grapes also prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which blocks the blood vessels and is a main supplier to numerous coronary disorders. Grapes consist of higher numbers of flavonoids, which give grapes their color, but flavonoids are also extremely powerful antioxidants. The two main types in grapes are resveratrol and quercetin, and these two compounds negate the effects of free radicals that threaten the body and encourage LDL cholesterol’s harmful effects on arteries. Also, these two antioxidant flavonoids act as a clean-up crew to reduce platelet clumping and filter toxins out of the blood.
4. Help Reduce Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Research suggests that polyphenols present in grapes and grape products help to reduce metabolic syndrome and prevent development of obesity and type 2 diabetes by acting as multi-target modulators with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Grapes have been categorized as a low glycemic index (GI) food, with GI values ranging between 43–53. Recent research have shown that grapes, grape juices and grape extracts, due to the amazing phytonutrients found in them, may offer better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation and increased insulin sensitivity. So include grape in your daily diet to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Ripe grape juice is one of the most beneficial home medications for curing migraines. It must be drunk early in the morning, without mixing extra water. Drinking red wine is often considered a cause of migraines, but grape juice and grape seed extract is considered a best solution for the problem. There are many reasons behind migraines, and it is difficult to identify the culprit, since they include lack of sleep, chemical imbalances, dietary deficiencies or changes in weather. However alcohol is one of the main cause for migraines, but grapes have so many antioxidants that they can cure the same illness!
6. Anti-Inflammatory Action
Inflammation is a protective response of tissues against cell injury, irritation, pathogen invasions, as well as mechanism for eliminating damaged cells. If extended, chronic inflammation develop and result in cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, neurodegenerative diseases, pulmonary diseases, diabetes and autoimmune.
Grapes nutrition polyphenols have been shown to decrease chronic inflammation. As natural compounds, grape flavonoids and proanthocyanidins can target multiple pathways to overcome chronic inflammation and may be effective than synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs. Those compounds also make grapes one of the best anti-inflammatory foods around.
Grape is one of the best foods for overcoming and eliminating constipation. They are classified as a laxative food, because they contain organic acid, sugar and cellulose. Additionally they relieve chronic constipation simply by toning up intestinal muscles and the stomach. Grapes are high in insoluble fiber, which means it remains unbroken as it moves through the digestive tract. It builds up bulk, which encourages the formation and excretion of healthy stool, thus grapes help make you much more regular. However, if you suffer from loos stool or diarrhea, grapes should not be used to regulate your system. Insoluble fiber does not soak up water to dry out loose stool, and grapes don’t have a high level of soluble fiber.
8. Help Prevent Cancer
Regular consumption of grapes is extremely beneficial for cancer prevention. Grapes consist of rich amount of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients that help to avoid the dangerous combination of chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, making this fruit a wonderful cancer-fighting food.
Fiber is significantly required for a healthy colon, and grapes offer us approximately 1 gram of fiber in every 60 calories. This antioxidant-fiber combination may be one of the reasons that colon cancer prevention has become more predominant in health research on grapes. In fact, a study conducted by the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Milan and the San Paolo Hospital in Italy found that natural grape extracts regulate colon cancer cells malignancy.
Researchers have discovered that grape skin extract possesses positive chemotherapeutic results against breast cancer. Apart from that raisin has been noted for its effect on human colon cancer cells and pancreatic cancer cells due to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Another research has discovered that purple, Concord grape juice helps in preventing breast cancer. Considerable reduction in mammary tumor mass of laboratory rats was noticed after they were fed with grape juice in an experiment. Antioxidants in grapes are beneficial in the prevention of all types of cancer, but there are some interesting studies that specifically show grape juice as an effective preventive measure against breast cancer. Certain chemicals in grapes compete for binding sites, and hinder aromatase from changing androgen to estrogen, which is supposed to be a big contributing factor to breast cancer growth in women.
9. Prevention of cataracts
Flavonoids present in grapes help to reduce and fight the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause disorders like the development of cataracts, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and various age-related problems. It is slightly associated to macular degeneration, as they commonly occur around the same time in life. Luckily, antioxidants have certain anti-aging qualities, which not only help you look younger, but also feel younger by staving off age-related conditions like cataracts.
Grape juice increases the iron content in the body and prevents fatigue. Anemia is one of the critical problems for many people, and consuming grapes help keep your iron and mineral levels balanced in the body. Lack of iron can make you lethargic, and your mind also doesn’t work as quickly, since iron is an essential mineral that control a number of bodily functions. However, dark grape juice might not give an iron boost and may actually reduce iron levels. Drinking grape juice provides an instant energy boost.
11. Better Brain Function
It is said that regular consumption of flavonoid-rich grape products have a significant beneficial effect on brain function and the central nervous system. Grape flavonoids, specifically anthocyanins, prevent neurodegenerative processes both by inhibition of neuro-inflammation and by decreasing oxidative stress.
Clinical research demonstrated that 12 weeks supplementation with purple grape juice in the diet have neurocognitive benefits in older adults with early memory decline. Consumption of grape juice was also found to improve memory functions in older adults with mild memory decline, perhaps helping work as an Alzheimer’s natural treatment.
12. Immune System
Grapes are loaded with flavonoids, minerals and vitamins. The high levels of Vitamin C, K, and A in grapes offer you a healthy boost to many of your organ systems, mainly your immune system, which means less chance of common colds and more serious health issues.
13. Kidney disorders
Grapes can considerably reduce the acidity of uric acid and they help to eliminate acid from the system, thus decreasing the stress and pressure on the kidneys. Since grapes have high water content, they encourage urination, which also helps to remove the uric acid still present in the body after its acidity is reduced. Grapes have a very cleansing effect on the body, and the antioxidants present benefit all of the body’s systems in marginal ways.
14. Antimicrobial Benefits
Numerous grape phytonutrients have been shown to have antimicrobial properties. These phytonutrients range from common flavonoids like quercetin to less common stilbenes like piceatannol and resveratrol. Researchers think that they may be able to help us prevent microbe-related problems like food-borne illness.
Grape juice, skin and seed extracts from table grapes have been found to have a strong inhibitory effect against the growth of some bacteria. Alcohol-free red and white wine extracts have been shown to have moderate antifungal activities on Candida albicans. This antifungal activity of grape products has made them attractive for commercial applications like skin care products. And the grape flavonoids may play an important role in a healthy gut, eventually providing beneficial effects in control of weight loss.
15. Macular degeneration
Regular consumption of grapes helps to prevent age-related loss of vision and macular degeneration. Research study conducted at University of Miami recommends that grape-enriched diet supports eye health and may prevent vision-threatening retinal diseases. Researches have shown that three servings of grapes a day can decrease the risks of macular degeneration by over 36%.
16. Blood cholesterol
Pterostilbene found in grapes has the capacity to lower a person’s cholesterol levels. Pterostilbene is closely related to resveratrol, the beneficial antioxidant and coloring flavonoid that is also found in grapes and earlier research has shown that it has anti-cancer qualities and having a great impact on cholesterol levels. Furthermore, the saponins present in the skin of grapes also prevent the absorption of cholesterol by binding with it.
17. Alzheimer’s disease
Resveratrol, a beneficial polyphenol present in grapes helps in reducing the levels of amyloidal-beta peptides in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests that grapes help to enhance brain health and delay the onset of degenerative neural diseases. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition claims that grape juice can improve the brain function of older people who have previously shown mild cognitive impairment.