Grapes are popularly categorized as wine grapes, table grapes, and raisin grapes. Grapes can have edible seeds or be seedless. Grape products can be consumed in the form of wine, fruit, juice, and raisins. Grapes contain various nutrients such as phytochemicals, edible fibers, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
The benefits of grapes (Vitis vinifera) has been acknowledged for thousands of years. Sap from grapevines to create an ointment for skin and eye treatment were even used during the ancient Egyptian era. Grapes were mushed into wine concoctions or simply ripened and served to help relieve a variety of illness such as constipation, nausea, liver disease, smallpox and certain cancers.
Grapes contain a wide host of polyphenol components including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and resveratrol. There is an array of research and evidence showing that dietary intake of polyphenol compounds reduce cardiovascular mortality.
Antioxidant properties: The polyphenols in grapes have key antioxidant properties that have the ability to hunt down and neutralize oxygen reactive free radicals. Grape consumption facilitates the activity of antioxidant enzymes. Grape polyphenols are able to inhibit LDL oxidation. In preventing the oxidation, the process of atherogenesis will be impeded therefore apparently reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. Red wine has been found to be better than white wine or pure alcohol in preventing LDL oxidation. Purple grape juice has also been shown to lower LDL oxidation in patients with coronary artery disease.
Antioxidant levels vary in different parts of the grape with the highest antioxidant capacity found in grape seeds, then the skin, and lowest antioxidant capacity being in the flesh of the fruit. Overall, the extracts from grapes and grape seeds, in particular, are a reliable antioxidant for dietary supplementation.
Endothelial function: Human studies suggest a benefit of grapes on endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction is traditionally associated with a risk for atherosclerosis. Studies have shown in cultured endothelial cells that have been exposed to wine, grape juice and specific polyphenols increase the endothelial cell function and NO production (a molecule that supports endothelial function). The components reduce the adhesion of monocytes to the endothelial wall which affects the regulation of inflammation and therefore reducing cardiovascular risk.
Antiplatelet effects: Polyphenols have demonstrated platelet inhibitory effects and there is increasing interest in the possibility that grape consumption might provide cardioprotection. In humans studies, experimentation has found antiplatelet effects from grape-derived juices. After the consumption of grape juice for 14 days, results showed a decrease in platelet aggregation and increases NO production (which supports vascular function).
Anti-inflammatory: Polyphenols from grapes and found in red wine inhibit the activation of nuclear factor-κB and the regulation of proinflammatory factors in inflammatory cells thus helping fight against cardiovascular disease.
Some other benefits of grapes:
Cardioprotection Action: Phenolic compounds in grapes have shown efficacy in regulating plasma lipids and oxidative stress. Resultant effects is a reduced risk factor for atherosclerosis.
Anti-cancer Activities: Evidence suggests extracts from grapes and its constituents has anticancer activity. Extract from grape skin provides anti-cancer benefit by inducing prostate tumor cell line apoptosis (i.e cancer cell death) with high rates.
Anti-aging Effects: Due to nature of free radical scavenging activity, polyphenolics found in grapes could prevent tissues and organs from oxidative stress. Damage reduction = anti-aging effects
Antimicrobial Effects: grape products such as wine inhibit microbial activity especially Escherichia coli growth. This inhibition increases as the concentration of polyphenol increases. The extracts of from grapes show anti-microbial activity to few select pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans. Therefore polyphenolic compounds that are contained in red wines are responsible for antimicrobial effects.