All grapes contain a variety of antioxidants and other polyphenols. Known best for neutralizing free radicals, antioxidants prevent cell oxidation. When left to run amok, free radicals create oxidative stress, which is linked to multiple health conditions and chronic illness.
Studies have shown eating grapes may help support heart health. Compounds within grapes promote relaxation of heart vessels. This helps maintain healthy blood flow and function. Studies looking at eating normal size portions of grapes of all colors indicate advantage in healthy aging.
Recent studies have also linked compounds within grapes to lowering blood pressure. During these studies, consumption of grapes lowered blood pressure and inflammation. This resulted in fewer signs of heart damage than those not eating grapes.
In a small research group of colon cancer patients, consuming 2 cups of grapes daily for a period of two weeks significantly improved healthy colon tissue. This indicates potential for compounds within grapes to inhibit genes that promote tumor growth in the colon.
Likewise, recent studies have linked regular consumption of grapes to protection of your retinas from deterioration. A study showed adding grapes to the diet early in life prevented blindness in animals prone to developing retinal damage in old age — similar to age-related macular degeneration in humans. A second study showed grapes countered oxidative stress, lowered levels of inflammatory proteins and increased protective proteins in the retina. A third study indicated adding grapes to the diet helped reduce damaging and undesirable blood vessel formation that can leak into the retina and lead to vision loss.
Furthermore, a pilot study of people with early stage Alzheimer's disease showed consuming grapes helped preserve healthy metabolic activity in the regions associated with the disease. In another study, a grape enriched diet helped to reduce inflammation and protect against neural damage caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. Other studies have shown compounds within grapes prevented oxidative stress-induced anxiety-like behaviors and memory impairment.
The bottom line: Adding grapes to your diet offers not only nutritional benefits but also serves as preventative and protective against several health concerns.
Dr. Dianna Richardson has been serving Jefferson City and the surrounding communities for more than 22 years. She has worked in the field of health and nutrition as a wellness practitioner for more than 30 years. Richardson holds a doctorate in naturopathy, along with degrees in nutrition and a master's degree in public health education. She may be found at the Health, Wellness & Nutrition Center, LLC on Dix Road in Jefferson City.
ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH GRAPES AND BALSAMIC
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup red grapes
2 tablespoons ready-to-use balsamic glaze
Heat oven to 450 F. Toss sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet until sprouts are well-coated. Roast until deep golden brown, about 17-20 minutes, turning the sprouts halfway through. Stir in the grapes and roast 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with the glaze or drizzle a platter with glaze and pile sprouts on top. Serve.
Note: Balsamic glaze is a flavorful condiment that adds a rich, sweet and tangy finish to whatever it is drizzled on.