Ibn al-Qayyim in his great work "The Prophetic Medicine" said that grapes are mentioned six times in the Qur'an, as a fruit of this world as well as of Paradise. He said that they are among the most excellent and beneficial of fruits, and can be eaten fresh or dry, green or ripe. He classified them as a fruit, a food, a condiment, as medicine and as a drink.
He also said that grapes were more nutritious when they are two or three days old and their skin has softened slightly, than those harvested on the same day. He described some of their benefits as helping in weight gain, and provide excellent nourishment. Their nutritional benefits are similar to that of figs and raisins and he classed them with dates and figs as 'the chief of fruits'.
So Why Eat grapes?
Grapes are a small fruit that grow in bunches on the woody grapevine plant. They are available in many shapes from oval to round, seeded to seedless, and various colors from green, red, purple, or blue-black. Both the skins and seeds of the grape are edible.
Grapes contain Vitamin C and potassium, and a small amount of fiber. Grape seeds contain an abundance of powerful antioxidants, and studies show that the main antioxidant present, proanthocyanidin, has twenty times greater antioxidant power than Vitamin E, and about fifty times greater than Vitamin C. resveratrol, a key phytonutrient found mainly in the skin of grapes, has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Grapes are also high in flavonoids, and red grapes contain the carotenoid lycopene, which may help in fighting breast and prostate cancer.
Some of the health benefits of grapes include:
- Heart Health: researchers have found that the flesh and skin of white and red grape varieties contains significant concentrations of antioxidants like resveratol, caffeic, caftaric, coumaric and coutaric acids. These antioxidants were found to protect the heart. Other studies have shown that a particular brand of grape juice can significantly increase good cholesterol.
- Cancer: a number of studies show a link between grapes and cancer prevention, including the ability to inhibit growth of cancer cells.
- Memory Function: drinking a certain brand of grape juice significantly improved short-term memory, co-ordination, balance and strength in laboratory animals.
- Weight Control: a study found that grape seed extract may be helpful in limiting absorption and accumulation of dietary fat in cells.
Tips on Using Grapes
- Choose grapes that are intact, plump and free of wrinkles.
- Grapes do not continue to ripen once they have been picked.
- Grapes will keep fresh for several days at room temperature, but will last for longer if unwashed and refrigerated.
References for Further Reading
- Agarwal C, Singh RP, Agarwal R. (2002, November). Grape seed extract induces apoptotic death of human prostate carcinoma DU145 cells via caspases activation accompanied by dissipation of mitochondria) membrane potential and cytochrome c release. Carcinogenesis. 23(11), 1869-1876.
- Albers AR et al. The antiinflammatory effects of purple grape juice consumption in subjects with stable coronary artery disease. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004 Nov;24(11):e179-180.
- Falchi M et al. Comparison of cardioprotective abilities between the flesh and skin of grapes. J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Sep 6;54(18):6613-6622.
- Fuhrman B, Volkova N, Coleman R, Aviram M. (2006, August). Grape powder polyphenols attenuate atherosclerosis development in apolipoprotein E deficient (EO) mice and reduce macrophage atherogenicity. J Nutr. 136(8), 2272.
- Jung KJ, Wallig MA, Singletary KW. (2006, February). Purple grape juice inhibits 7,12-dimethylbenzf aj anthracene (DMBA)-induced rat mammary tumorigenesis and in vivo DMBA-DNA adduct formation. Cancer Letters. 233(2), 279-288.
- Kim, H. (2005, November). New nutrition, proteomics, and how both can enhance studies in cancer prevention and therapy. J Nutr. 135(11),2715-2722.
- Moreno DA, Ilic N, Poulev A, Brasaemle DL, Fried SK, Raskin I. (2003, October). Inhibitory effects of grape seed extract on lipases. nutrition. 11(10), 876-879.
- Shukitt-Hale B et al. Effects of Concord grape juice on cognitive and motor deficits in aging. nutrition. 2006 Mar;22(3):295-302.