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Healthy Habits: Grapes – Nature's candy that's good for you

Sweet or sour; green, red or black: grapes are like candy to people's health. Village News/Courtesy photo

Grapes are sometimes called "nature's candy" because they have a sweet/sour taste that many people enjoy. They're an easy, convenient, quick snack with nutritional value.

They're an ingredient and flavor for jellies, jams, wines and juice. They also come in dried form as raisins. They come in different varieties and colors including green, black, red, pink and yellow. The list of benefits is quite long for grapes, making them a go-to fruit to munch on.

Grapes are high in antioxidants, particularly in their skin, which help prevent chronic diseases. The antioxidants in grapes include resveratrol and quercetin which prevent cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. They also have anthocyanins which prevent both heart and brain disease.

By fighting oxidative stress, antioxidants help people prevent poor health. Grapes have more antioxidants, including beta carotene, vitamin C, lutein and ellagic acid. A key antioxidant is resveratrol which acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps block the spread of cancer cells.

Another great grape benefit is their ability to protect against certain eye diseases. They help the retina function better. It is because of the antioxidant resveratrol that helps protect from UVA light and macular degeneration. The other antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin, are said to improve vision. Resveratrol is also beneficial for skin and hair.

Many cosmetic products contain resveratrol because of its collagen producing ability and because it protects against UV rays. Resveratrol also protects hair follicles from environmental damage, and it helps with hair growth. Furthermore, resveratrol wards off the production of harmful bacteria including E coli. The list seems to go on and on with how great resveratrol is which is found in grapes.

An interesting part about grapes is that contrary to popular belief, they can actually lower blood sugar levels which protects from diabetes. Grapes do have 23 grams of sugar per 1 cup, so although that may seem high, they're low on the glycemic index.

They have a range of 49-59 and generally under 55 on the GI is considered low, and it means grapes don't raise blood sugar quickly. Additionally, grapes decrease homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, which is a measure of insulin resistance.

Another great quality of grapes is that they may improve brain health, including memory. The compounds in grapes ward off inflammation which can reduce the risk for Alzheimer's disease.

Grapes have also been shown to boost mood. Because grapes have potassium, vitamins B, C and K, and manganese, they can support bone health. Grapes are also known for reducing constipation because of their fiber. Grapes even have melatonin which helps improve sleep.

Having a handful of grapes, drinking a cup of grape juice or having a box of raisins, all have many perks for our health. Grapes often get a bad "sugar-filled" reputation, but a little more information reveals the many benefits "nature's candy" contains.

Grapes are candy that is good for you. Drinking wine might be another story. Have a few grapes and enjoy their sweet/sour benefits for your body.


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