Grapes were believed to be medicinal long before it was confirmed by scientific research. Grapes are a popular low-fat snack available in different sizes, shapes and colours. They are refreshingly crisp, with sweet and sometimes tangy bursts of flavour. Grapes have been dubbed a functional food (food that provides benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it contains) because they may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Selection and storage
Choose fresh-looking, plump grapes that have green stems firmly attached. The best grapes have full colour, and are not wrinkled or sticky. Avoid browning or whitening at the stem because this can be a sign that they are old. Keep unwashed grapes refrigerated in a perforated bag for one week.
Grapes are one of the healthiest fruit choices you can make because of all the nutrients and compounds they have to offer. Grapes have about 70 calories per half cup, and are a source of potassium, vitamin C and pectin, a type of fibre that also helps to reduce blood cholesterol. Once dried into raisins, they have a higher concentration of sugar and iron.
Grapes contain several phytochemicals including resveratrol (in the skins), quercitins, anthocyanin and catechin. Collectively these elevate the grape to nearly superfood status, with a role in heart health, stroke prevention and cancer protection. Resveratrol is in the skin of all grapes, and some research indicates it's beneficial in reducing the rist of breast cancer, liver and colon cancer and heart disease. It is one of the key components that makes red wine a heart-healthy beverage (in moderation). This heart-healthy phytochemical has been studied in France, where red wine intake seems to counterbalance the negative effects of a diet that's high in saturated fat.
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