Grapes have been cultivated for thousands of years and have been revered by several ancient civilizations for their use in winemaking.
There are many types of grapes including green, red, black, yellow and pink. They grow in clusters and come in seeded and seedless varieties.
Grapes are grown in temperate climates across the world, including Southern Europe, Africa, Australia and North and South America. The majority of grapes grown in the US are from California.
Grapes offer a wealth of health benefits due to their high nutrient and antioxidant contents.
Here are the top 12 health benefits of eating grapes.
Grapes are high in several important nutrients.
One cup (151 grams) of red or green grapes contains the following nutrients (1):
- Calories: 104
- Carbs: 27.3 grams
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 1.4 grams
- Vitamin C: 27% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin K: 28% of the RDI
- Thiamine: 7% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 6% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 6% of the RDI
- Potassium: 8% of the RDI
- Copper: 10% of the RDI
- Manganese: 5% of the RDI
One cup (151 grams) of grapes provides more than a quarter of the RDI for vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin vital for blood clotting and healthy bones (2).
They’re also a good source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant necessary for connective tissue health (3).
Antioxidants are compounds found in plants, for example. They help repair the damage to your cells caused by free radicals, which are harmful molecules that cause oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been associated with several chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer and heart disease (4Trusted Source).
Grapes are high in a number of powerful antioxidant compounds. In fact, over 1,600 beneficial plant compounds have been identified in this fruit (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
The highest concentration of antioxidants is found in the skin and seeds. For this reason, most of the research on grapes has been done using seed or skin extracts (7Trusted Source).
Red grapes contain higher numbers of antioxidants due to the anthocyanins that give them their color (5Trusted Source).
The antioxidants in grapes remain present even after fermentation, which is why red wine is also high in these compounds (8Trusted Source).
One of the antioxidants in this fruit is resveratrol, which is classified as a polyphenol.
Numerous studies have been performed on its benefits, showing that resveratrol protects against heart disease, lowers blood sugar and protects against the development of cancer (9Trusted Source).
Grapes also contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, lutein, lycopene and ellagic acid, which are powerful antioxidants as well (6Trusted Source).
Grapes contain high levels of beneficial plant compounds, which may help protect against certain types of cancer (6Trusted Source).
Resveratrol, one of the compounds found in this fruit, has been well-studied in terms of cancer prevention and treatment.
It has been shown to protect against cancer by reducing inflammation, acting as an antioxidant and blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells within the body (10Trusted Source).
However, the unique combination of plant compounds found in grapes may be responsible for their anti-cancer benefits. In addition to resveratrol, grapes also contain quercetin, anthocyanins and catechins — all of which may have beneficial effects against cancer (11Trusted Source).
Grape extracts have been shown to block the growth and spread of human colon cancer cells in test-tube studies (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Additionally, one study in 30 people over the age of 50 showed that eating 1 pound (450 grams) of grapes per day for two weeks decreased markers of colon cancer risk (14Trusted Source).
Studies have also found that grape extracts block the growth and spread of breast cancer cells, both in laboratory and mouse models (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
While studies on grapes and cancer in humans are limited, a diet high in antioxidant-rich foods, such as grapes, has been linked to a lower risk of cancer (18Trusted Source).
There are several reasons why eating grapes is good for your heart.
May Help Lower Blood Pressure
One cup (151 grams) of grapes contains 288 mg of potassium, which is 6% of the RDI (1).
This mineral is necessary for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Low intake of potassium has been linked to increased risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke (19).
A study in 12,267 adults showed that people who consumed higher levels of potassium in relation to sodium were less likely to die from heart diseases than those who consumed less potassium (20Trusted Source).
May Help Reduce Cholesterol
Compounds found in grapes may help protect against high cholesterol levels by decreasing cholesterol absorption (21Trusted Source).
In one study in 69 people with high cholesterol, eating three cups (500 grams) of red grapes a day for eight weeks was shown to lower total and “bad” LDL cholesterol. White grapes did not have the same effect (22Trusted Source).
Additionally, diets high in resveratrol, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been shown to decrease cholesterol levels as well (23Trusted Source).
Grapes contain 23 grams of sugar per cup (151 grams), which may make you wonder if they’re a good choice for people with diabetes (1).
They have a low glycemic index (GI) of 53, a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar.
Furthermore, compounds found in grapes may even decrease blood sugar levels. In a 16-week study in 38 men, those who took 20 grams of grape extract per day experienced decreased blood sugar levels, compared to a control group (24Trusted Source).
Additionally, resveratrol has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, which may improve your body’s ability to use glucose and hence lower blood sugar levels (25Trusted Source).
Resveratrol also increases the number of glucose receptors on cell membranes, which may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar (26Trusted Source).
Managing your blood sugar levels over time is an important factor in reducing your risk of diabetes.
The plant chemicals found in grapes may protect against common eye diseases.
In one study, mice fed a diet supplemented with grapes showed fewer signs of damage to the retina and had better retinal function compared with mice who were not fed the fruit (27Trusted Source).
In a test-tube study, resveratrol was found to protect retinal cells in the human eye from ultraviolet A light. This may lower the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a common eye disease (28Trusted Source).
According to a review study, resveratrol may also help protect against glaucoma, cataract and diabetic eye disease (29Trusted Source).
Additionally, grapes contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Several studies have demonstrated that these compounds help protect the eyes from damage from blue light (30Trusted Source).
Eating grapes may benefit your brain health and boost your memory.
In a 12- week study in 111 healthy older adults, 250 mg of a grape supplement per day significantly improved scores on a cognitive test measuring attention, memory and language compared to baseline values (31Trusted Source).
Another study in healthy young adults showed that drinking about 8 ounces (230 ml) of grape juice improved both the speed of memory-related skills and mood 20 minutes after consumption (32Trusted Source).
Studies in rats have shown that resveratrol improved learning, memory and mood when taken for 4 weeks (33Trusted Source).
Additionally, the rats’ brains showed signs of increased growth and blood flow (33Trusted Source).
Resveratrol may also help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, though studies in humans are needed to confirm this (34Trusted Source).
SUMMARYGrapes contain compounds that may improve memory, attention and mood and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, though more human-based research is needed to confirm some of these benefits.
Grapes contain many minerals necessary for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamin K (1, 35Trusted Source).
Though studies in rats have shown that resveratrol improved bone density, these results have not been confirmed in humans (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
In one study, rats fed freeze-dried grape powder for 8 weeks had better bone absorption and retention of calcium versus rats that did not receive the powder (37Trusted Source).
Human-based studies on the effect of grapes on bone health are currently lacking.
SUMMARYGrapes contain many nutrients important for bone health, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin K. Studies in rats have shown that grapes may have protective effects on bones, but human studies are needed to confirm these benefits.
Numerous compounds in grapes have been shown to protect against and fight bacterial and viral infections (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).
Grapes are a good source of vitamin C, which is well known for its beneficial impact on your immune system (1, 41Trusted Source)
Grape skin extract has been shown to protect against the flu virus in test-tube studies (42Trusted Source).
Additionally, compounds in grapes stopped the herpes virus, chicken pox and yeast infections from spreading in test-tube studies (43Trusted Source).
Resveratrol may also protect against foodborne illnesses. When added to different types of food, it was shown to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, such as E. Coli ( target=”_blank”44Trusted Source).
SUMMARYGrapes contain several compounds that have shown beneficial effects against certain bacteria, viruses and yeast infections.
Plant compounds found in grapes may affect aging and lifespan.
Resveratrol has been shown to lengthen lifespan in a variety of animal species (45Trusted Source).
This compound stimulates a family of proteins called sirtuins, which have been linked to longevity (46Trusted Source).
One of the genes that resveratrol activates is the SirT1 gene. This is the same gene activated by low-calorie diets, which has been linked to longer lifespans in animal studies (47Trusted Source, 48Trusted Source).
Resveratrol also affects several other genes associated with aging and longevity (49Trusted Source).
SUMMARYResveratrol in grapes has been shown to activate genes associated with slower aging and longer lifespan.
Chronic inflammation plays a key role in the development of chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and autoimmune diseases, to name just a few (50Trusted Source).
Resveratrol has been linked to powerful anti-inflammatory properties (51Trusted Source).
In a study in 24 men with metabolic syndrome — a risk factor for heart disease — a grape powder extract equivalent to approximately 1.5 cups (252 grams) of fresh grapes increased the number of anti-inflammatory compounds in their blood (52Trusted Source).
Similarly, another study in 75 people with heart disease found that taking grape powder extract increased levels of anti-inflammatory compounds, compared to a control group (53Trusted Source).
A study in rats with inflammatory bowel disease showed that grape juice improved not only signs of the disease but also increased blood levels of anti-inflammatory compounds (54Trusted Source).
SUMMARYGrapes contain compounds that may have anti-inflammatory effects, which may protect against certain heart and bowel diseases.
Grapes are easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. Here are a few ways you can enjoy them:
- Eat grapes plain as a snack.
- Freeze grapes for a cool treat.
- Add chopped grapes to a vegetable or chicken salad.
- Use grapes in a fruit salad.
- Add grapes or grape juice to a smoothie.
- Add grapes to a cheese board for an appetizer or dessert.
- Drink 100% grape juice.
SUMMARY Grapes are delicious and easy to add to your diet for breakfast, lunch, dinner or simply as a convenient, healthy snack.
Grapes contain several important nutrients and powerful plant compounds that benefit your health.
Though they contain sugar, they have a low glycemic index and don’t appear to raise blood sugar levels.
Antioxidants in grapes, such as resveratrol, reduce inflammation and may help protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Grapes are easy to incorporate into your diet, whether fresh, frozen, as juice or wine.
For the most benefits, choose fresh, red over white grapes.