Grapes taste good – but are they good for you? The short answer is YES!
People have been cultivating grapevines for an astonishing 8,000 years. This juicy fruit is packed with dietary fiber, potassium, and essential vitamins and minerals essential for good health.
You may have noticed at the grocery store that grapes come in three colors: red, green, and purple. Some have seeds and others have been bred over generations to be seedless.
While most grapes grown around the world are used to make wine, table grapes are also a popular crop. American grapes (Vitis labrusca) best withstand cold temperatures whereas the European variety (V. vinifera) and French-American hybrids fare better in arid heat. The Mediterranean area is well-suited to grow wine grapes.
Another American grape, the Muscadine (V. rotundifolia) is native to the southern United States. This fruit’s thicker skin makes it an excellent choice to make jams, wine or any other grape product.
Growing grapes in your home garden isn’t that hard. Choose a site with good drainage and air circulation with plenty of sunlight (at least morning sun). Plant dormant, bare-root grape vines in the early spring.
Grapevines need to be trained to some sort of support such as a sturdy trellis or arbor to grow upward. Planting rows maximizes the use of space and give vines room to spread out and ripen fruit. Beautiful grapevines can also be used aesthetically to line a fence or cover a structure.
Before planting grapevines, soak their roots in water for two or three hours. Space plants 5 to 6 feet apart in all directions. Dig a hole 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Line the bottom of the hole with compost before planting. Cover the roots with 6 inches of soil and tamp it down. Fill with the remaining half (untamped) and water well.
You won’t need to fertilize until lightly the second year. Keep the vines mulched to maintain an even amount of moisture around the vines which can be prone to mildew.
You’ll need to prune the vines in late winter, usually around March. Grapes produce fruit on shoots growing off of one-year-old canes. Having too many old canes from under pruning yields fewer grapes.
Not only is it cool to grow grapes and yummy to snack on them, eating grapes – or grape jelly, jam, juice or raisins – is good for your health, helping to prevent cancer, eye problems, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, aging, aging-associated diseases, neurodegeneration, and constipation.
Grapes are 82 percent water. The high liquid content hydrates your body’s cells naturally. A cup of grapes contains over 4 fluid ounces of water and has 104 calories with zero fat or cholesterol.
One cup of red or green grapes offers these additional nutritional benefits:
Protein – 1 gram (g)
Total Carbohydrate – 27g
Dietary Fiber – 1.4g
Sugars – 23g
Calcium – 15mg
Folate -3 mcg
Iron – 0.54 mg
Magnesium – 11 mg
Phosphorus – 30 mg
Potassium – 288mg
Sodium – 3 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin C – 4.8 mg
Vitamin K – 22 micrograms (mcg)
Zinc – 0.11 mg
If you’re unsure how to add grapes to your diet, there are plenty of options, including:
- Make juice from fresh grapes
- Drink 100% grape juice with no added sugar
- Add whole grapes to a green salad or fruit salad
- Add chopped grapes to your favorite chicken salad recipe
- Eat frozen grapes for a refreshing summer snack
Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grapes that helps regulate blood sugar levels by affecting how carbohydrates metabolize. Lutein and zeaxanthin are other potent antioxidants that researchers believe combine to give them even greater effects on strengthening the immune system.
Scientific research has confirmed that a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients that benefit the body can play an important role in a healthy lifestyle, with less risk of chronic health problems.
Although herbal formulations containing resveratrol have been used medicinally since ancient times, this antioxidant starting getting international attention in the early 1990s. The “French paradox” made headlines when it was noted that French people had a lower risk of coronary heart disease even though they eat meals famously rich in protein and saturated fats because they got so much resveratrol from drinking red wine.
Emerging scientific data support the idea that consuming whole foods may be a better approach to promote good health and prevent disease. Foods rich in antioxidants and other bioactive compounds – mainly vegetables and fruits – can help improve overall health and maintain a strong immune system.
So go for growing the grapes. It’s a good idea come to fruition – get it?