You’ve probably heard the term “superfood” tossed around a lot in the media and online. But what exactly is a superfood and what is it that makes it so super? While not exactly a scientific term, superfoods generally include any all-natural foods that are considered to be more nutrient dense than other options.
Here’s what the experts have to say…
According to the American Heart Association, even though there’s not a worldwide accepted list of superfoods, most nutritionists and experts agree that superfoods are generally considered great for your heart and overall health when integrated into a balanced diet.
So, how do grapes fit into the superfood family?
The health benefits of grapes start right within the skin, where they contain phytonutrients — plant chemicals that contain disease-preventing compounds. Then, the health benefits extend to the fruit’s array of polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that fight a wide variety of cancers, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. The benefits hardly stop there, though. See how the humble grape can help these six areas of your body.
1. Rejuventates the Skin
Filled with Vitamin C and antioxidants, grapes can help to revitalize your skin. In fact, they can even protect your skin from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation and free radicals that can, on a lesser scale, cause wrinkles and dark spots. The added Vitamin C is necessary for your skin to form collagen, which helps give your face that youthful firmness.
2. Benefits the Brain
Resveratrol is one health benefit of grapes that continues to impress! Studies by the University of Switzerland saw that the compound helps to fight against plaques and free radicals that can harm your brain and potentially cause Alzheimer’s. It also helps to increase blood flow to the brain, which increases your mental dexterity.
3. Boosts Energy
The complex carbohydrates found in grapes can give you a much-needed energy boost. Often enjoyed by runners, grapes are known by those in-the-know as a source of almost instant energy. They’re the perfect pre-workout snack!
4. Promotes a Healthy Heart
The health benefits of grapes extend to your heart (and that’s why many people say red wine is heart-healthy!). To get down to the nitty-gritty, grapes contain polyphenols that suppress atherosclerosis. What is that? Just a fancy term for a type of heart disease that results from buildup of cholesterol in the artery walls of the heart and brain — no good!
5. Brightens Eyes
The Vitamin A and lutein found in grapes can boost your eye health. While you’re probably familiar with Vitamin A, you may not be so much so with lutein. This is a substance found in a variety of veggies as well, and is collected by your retinas as a means to protect themselves against free radicals, which can cause unnecessary stress, damage and degeneration. According to a study led by researchers at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami, grapes can also help combat eye disease.
6. Strengthens Bones
Last (but certainly not least) manganese is a health benefit of grapes that helps to strengthen your bones. What’s manganese? It’s actually a mineral already occurring in our bodies in small amounts. It contributes to healthy bones (through allowing your body to better absorb calcium and also creating essential enzymes to build bones), but also boosts your metabolism, regulates hormones and normalizes your blood sugar.
So, ready to work some grapes into your diet? You’ll never doubt the power of these tiny superfoods again!
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When you think of energy-boosting foods, what comes to mind? Caffeinated beverages or energy drinks, surely. Maybe protein-rich foods or super greens like spinach and arugula. Perhaps a smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal with berries in the morning and a grilled chicken salad for lunch.
More than likely, grapes wouldn’t necessarily be on the top 10 or even 20 energy boosters that spring to mind. However, they should definitely be on the list! Grapes contain a host of nutrients that benefit the body in several ways. So what is it about grapes that makes them so special?
Grapes are little vitamin powerhouses.
What better way to boost your energy than a combo of vitamins and nutrients? These tiny and delicious bite-sized fruits contain not only vitamins C, B6, and K, they boast riboflavin and thiamine as well. Add to the list minerals such as potassium, manganese, copper, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium, and you’ve got the perfect energy-boosting snack. In fact, the iron in grapes (and other plant-based foods, of course) is used by your body to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the main energy source for your cells. And if your cells have more energy, by default, you do too!
Grapes contain essential carbohydrates.
It’s a well-known fact that our bodies need carbohydrates for energy, and grapes provide that in the form of natural fruit sugars. At 23g of sugar in one cup of grapes, that might sound like quite a bit—especially if you’re diabetic. But wait! The fiber and antioxidants found in grapes have actually been shown to lower your blood sugar levels. In addition to that, grapes’ resveratrol—a compound that we’ll talk more about shortly—may increase insulin sensitivity, leading to proper glucose processing and thus, lower blood sugar levels. So despite their sugar content, grapes are a low-GI food—a food that doesn’t raise your blood sugar—so they’re safe for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Feel free to enjoy grapes as part of your recommended 1 to 2 cups of fruit daily based on the USDA ChooseMyPlate guidelines.
Grapes help keep the body hydrated.
You probably don’t realize that grapes are actually 82% water. While many fruits contain hydrating properties, the combination of benefits in grapes is a winner for both your cells and your skin, hydrating from the inside out. Further, grapes’ vitamin-nutrient combo helps with cell regeneration, so when you pop a little red or green oval orb, you know you’re not only hydrating but receiving benefits all the way down to the cellular level. Take that, energy drink!
Grapes have resveratrol.
There’s that weird word again. What exactly is resveratrol? A natural compound that belongs to a group called polyphenols, resveratrol is known for functioning as an antioxidant in the body—and we all know that antioxidants are a very good thing. The more free radicals booted out, the better; that includes aging, fighting disease, and so much more. Resveratrol has been shown to improve energy metabolism, which means that grapes are an excellent way to help you convert food into energy. And the best thing about grapes is that they’re very portable, so grab a handful and pop a few of the brightly colored globes the next time you need an energy boost! Perfect for a midmorning or midafternoon snack, grapes may even help you out of the 2:30 p.m. workday slump.
So there you have it—the blend of vitamins, minerals, carbs, water content, and antioxidants makes grapes the perfect natural pick-me-up snack. There are many ways to include them in your diet, so get creative—or just eat them right off the bunch! However you prefer to partake of them, you’ll be glad you did.
Check out this handy infographic about the many, many health benefits of green grapes! Download one for yourself, your classroom, and even your nutrition reminder at the office. Just click HERE to get yours.
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