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The Best Years in Life
The Many Health Benefits of Dark Grapes
by Luella Isaacs
(The Best Years in Life) A growing body of evidence is proving that one of our most popular and delicious fruits is also one of our healthiest – dark grapes. Among the many benefits of dark grapes are protection against asthma, migraine, constipation, indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, macular degeneration, cataracts, high cholesterol, edema, and antibacterial activity. Perhaps the most exciting news about dark grapes is their ability to protect against age related memory decline and even improve memory.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggested that Concord grape juice may be able to improve memory decline in older adults. In this study, 12 elderly adults with declining memory were divided into two groups. One group was given Concord grape juice supplements daily for 12 weeks. The other group was given placebo supplements. At the end of the 12 weeks, tests focusing on memory and cognitive function were administered on the two groups. The group that had taken the Concord grape juice supplement showed significant improvement not only in memory, but also in verbal and spatial recall. In addition, studies in laboratory animals have shown not only better performance in maze tests requiring memory skills, but also improved coordination and balance.
The high content of vitamins and minerals in grapes are responsible for their many health benefits. The fruit contains high levels of A, C, and B6, together with folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, copper, and iron, all the ingredients necessary to maintain a healthy body. Grapes also contain polyphenols which contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce DNA damage caused by free radicals. Polyphenols have been the focus of research with regard to preventing such conditions as aging, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and even cancer. Recent animal research has indicated that polyphenols found in grape seeds can reduce the development of plaque in the brain that is associated in Alzheimer’s.
Not to be ignored are the grape seeds themselves, which provide added health benefits. Grape seeds are the source of the popular supplement grapeseed extract. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, grapeseed extract is also anti-allergenic, an antihistamine, and anti-inflammatory. It strengthens blood vessels, aids in circulation, improves skin elasticity, and promotes healthy hair growth. Grapeseed extract contains bioflavonoids which help protect cell membranes and guard against oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Grapeseed extract, itself, plays many roles in maintaining health. Its anti-aging properties may aid in the reduction of wrinkles. For example, it provides cardiovascular protection by preventing oxidation of lipoproteins, making it more difficult for them to adhere to blood vessel walls. It also strengthens the linings of the arteries, making them less resistant to damage.
Useful in helping to control allergies, the catechins it contains inhibit enzymes involved in forming histamines, reducing the allergic response.
Much ado is being made with regard to the anti-aging properties of Resveratrol. Grape skins contain a high content of this compound. Studies done on the administration of resveratrol to yeast, worms, fruit flies, fish, and mice, have resulted in increased life spans. Resveratrol may have extraordinary health benefits, including lowering of cholesterol LDL levels, and reduction of cardiovascular disease. Laboratory studies reported in the December 9, 2009 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that resveratrol is estrogenic, activating expression of artificially introduced “reporter” genes and naturally occurring estrogen-regulated genes in human cultured cells.
In addition to having many health benefits, grapes make a great tasting and nutritious snack.