Grapes

Grapes

GrapesThere are so many different ways to consume grapes. Besides the fact that there are green, red and purple grapes, they also come in a seedless form. Grapes are also used to make jam, juice and raisins. Grapes are most popular for the fact that they are used to make wine. This article will address the history of grapes, its health benefits and it will provide some tips on how to store grapes best.

Description

Grapes which are used for wine, to make raisins or table grapes belong to the same family of grapes. They belong to the viaceae vitis plant. While these types of grapes belong to this family, under this family of grapes are over 60 different species. These 60 different species of grapes again have thousands of varieties of grapes. In Italy, for example, there are more than a thousand varieties of wine grapes found. While there are so many different varieties of grapes, it is possible to distinguish between a few categories of grapes. For example, table grapes are known for being larger in size compared to grapes which are used to make wine. Moreover, they can often be bought as seedless grapes and their skin is relatively thin. The grapes which are used to make wine are usually smaller in size, contain seeds and their skin is thicker compared to table grapes. The skin of wine grapes is said to provide a richer flavour to the wine. Both table grapes and wine grapes come in different colours. The most commonly consumed grapes are green, red and purple. However, the colour of the grapes can also be yellow and pink, dependent on the type of grapes. Moreover, people also often refer to grapes as white grapes. Nevertheless, these grapes do not have a white colour and are usually green grapes. Since people in the Mediterranean often consume grapes and use them for different purposes, it is often assumed that the Mediterranean is the home for all grapes. This is, however, not the case. Grapes can be found in different regions in the world. For example, grapes grow in different regions in North America, Asia and Africa. Different varieties of grapes from all over the world have been hybridized. This has led to the unique blend of flavours and textures.

History

Grapes have an incredibly interesting history. The fruit has grown as a wild fruit since prehistoric times, it is suggested that the first cultivation of grapes dates back to 5000 BC. The fruit also played an important role in different biblical stories. In the Bible it has often been referred to as the fruit of the vine. The fruit was also visible in hieroglyphics in Egyptian burial tombs. Grapes also played an important role in Greek and Roman civilizations. As mentioned earlier, grapes are not native to one specific region in the world. They are said to grow in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. Through exploration and travel, different types of grapes are now found in different regions in the world. Since Europeans explored different parts of the world, they often brought native Europeans grapes with. For example, Spanish explorers planted grapes in the Southwest of the United States. Grapes were also planted in California. They were planted here due to the Californian climate and the fact that grape-preying insects are absent in this part of the United States. Currently, almost all table grapes consumed in the US grow in California. At the beginning of the year, between January and April, US consumers are dependent on grapes which are imported from Chile. Later on in the year, most of the grapes are imported from Mexico since Mexican grapes are widely available around May and June. The leading grape producing countries in the world are France, Spain, China, Italy and the United States. These countries make up almost half of the world’s commercial production of grapes.

Antioxidant benefits

Like many others fruits, grapes are a source of healthy nutrients and provide various health benefits to the human body. Besides the fact that grapes are a source of manganese and Vitamin C, they are also known for their antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties range from resveratrol, beta-carotene and melatonin. The hormone melatonin is one of the many antioxidant properties found in grapes. While the hormone melatonin does not act as an antioxidant when found in other foods, in grapes it does. The parts of grapes which contain the richest concentration of antioxidants are the seeds and the skin of the fruit. Moreover, while the flesh of grapes provides other health benefits and contains antioxidants as well, it is not the part of the fruit which contains the highest concentration of antioxidant properties. However, this is definitely an area of research which needs to be explored further. The researches that have been conducted on the antioxidant properties in grapes have analysed the concentrations in grape skin, grape seeds or grape extracts which contain seed, flesh and skin. The antioxidant properties in grapes increase the blood levels of glutathione. This is an important nutrient regarding antioxidant capacity. Moreover, grape components also help protect cell membranes from damage that could be caused by free radicals. Also, grapes can contribute to lowering the levels of oxygen reactive molecules in our blood. Another health benefit of grapes is that the many vitamins present in the fruit give your immune system a boost. The presence of vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin C all contribute to a stronger immune system. This is turn means that you have less change of catching a cold, or any other disease.


Cardiovascular benefits

The effects of grapes on the cardiovascular system are mentioned to be some of the most impressive benefits a fruit can provide to the human body. All cells in our body, specifically the cells in our blood, need protection from oxygen damage. This is due to the fact that oxygen concentration in our arteries is high and could lead to damage of our blood cells. Chronic inflammations in our cardiovascular system are often a cause for various cardiovascular diseases. It is therefore important that our anti-inflammatory system functions optimally to counter inflammations in the cardiovascular system. For this purpose it is especially important to eat red grapes. This is also the reason why researchers are referring to the French Paradox to understand this phenomenon. The French Paradox relates to the observations which were made regarding the functioning of the cardiovascular system of the French population. Researchers explored the relationship between a healthy cardiovascular system and the saturated fat income amongst the French population. Although, the French consume large amounts of saturated fat, they have low levels of heart disease. This interesting link was explored by multiple researchers who wanted to explain this connection. One of the explanations found for this phenomenon was the support provided to the cardiovascular system by red wine. Since French people consume red wine on a regular basis, they have an increased intake of anti-inflammatory properties. These properties found in red wine come from red grapes and are said to boost the cardiovascular system. This provides even more reason to enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner!

Cancer prevention properties

Besides the health benefits described above, grapes are also said to have cancer prevention properties. In a study which was conducted by the University of Iowa found that purple grape juice can contribute to the prevention of breast cancer. The experiment which was conducted as part of the study observed a significant reduction of tumour cells in laboratory rats after they had been given purple grape juice. The study concluded by saying that certain chemicals in grapes bind to particular sites in the body which play a contributing role to the growth of breast cancer in women. Another important nutrient which has an anti-inflammatory effect is resveratrol. This nutrient, which has been mentioned before, is said to have strong anti-cancer properties. It plays an important role in reducing the chances of breast cancer as well as colorectal cancer. Resveratrol has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer causing cells. Thus, grapes and grape juice do not only suppress the growth of cancer cells, but also prevents the risk of cancer in general. Fresh grapes and grape juice provide many health benefits, but dried grapes also have multiple health effects. Raisins, for example, can help treat many disorders. Besides the fact that raisins are extremely nutritious, they can also help fever, anaemia, constipation and sexual dysfunction.

How to select and store

When buying grapes it is important to pay attention to a few things. This section will provide a few tips with regards to storing grapes as well as those things you should pay attention to when buying grapes. For the best tasting grapes and those with the highest concentration of antioxidants, pick those grapes which are fully ripe. You can recognise fully ripened grapes by the fact that they are free from wrinkles and are plump. Also, you will also know that they are ripe when they have a stem which looks healthy, they are intact and they do not leak juice. The colour of the grapes will give you information about the sweetness of the fruit. For example, green grapes are medium sweet which red grapes are known for being very sweet. Grapes which have a blue-black colour are usually less sweet compared to the green and red grapes. Moreover, when picking grapes in the supermarket pay attention the fact that green grapes need to have a slight yellow hue over them. Blue-black grapes should have a rich and deep colour, while red grapes should be completely red. It can also be the case that red grapes have different shades of red in them. With regards to storing grapes, grapes should be stored in the refrigerator. This is due to the fact that grapes ferment at room temperature. It is recommended to wash the grapes and to put them in an airtight container before storing them in the refrigerator. On average, grapes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days. It is also possible to keep grapes in the freezer. Frozen grapes are a popular snack amongst children. Before putting grapes in the freezer, wash them thoroughly and dry them with a paper towel. It is important that the grapes are dried before they are put in the freezer because the excess water could cause the grapes to stick together.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1530x
Added: 19-10-2016 16:23
Last modified: 03-11-2016 23:54

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