Grapes are one of those fruits available in abundant quantity across the world. Of the seven continents in the world, except for one continent – Antarctica – all the other six continents cultivate this delicious fruit. Grapes are the major source of ingredient for producing wine and more than 50% of 60 million tonnes of grapes grown across the world are fermented annually for producing wine.
Broadly, grapes are sub-divided into two general categories – one is European and the other is American. The European variety that encompasses most of the varieties of grapes, is typically used as table food and also for producing wine. On the other hand, the American variety of grapes, which have skins that slip off easily, are predominantly used for making juices, jellies and jams.
It has been found that the European type of grapes is the more nutritious of the two varieities. However, neither of the varieties ranks high on the nutritional scale in comparison with other fruits. A cup of European grapes provides about 20% of the Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA for Vitamin C, about four times more than found in the American varieties. All types of grapes, however, provide a fair amount of potassium and iron.
Grapes are one of the favorite fruits for many people because of its low calorie content and its sweet, juicy flavor. Yet another reason for eating grapes is that it offers innumerable health benefits. Anthocyanins found in red and blue grapes have been found to be effective in lowering the risk of heart diseases and cancer.
Grapes contain quercetin, a plant pigment that is found to be effective in regulating the levels of blood cholesterol and also reduce the action of platelets, blood cells that are instrumental in forming clots. The skin of grapes contains resveratrol, a phyto-chemical that is linked to reduction of heart disease as well as a lowered risk of cancer or stroke.
Grapes also contain ellagic acid, which is found to be effective in protecting the lungs against environmental toxins. If one were to reap the full benefits from grapes, it is advisable that they select the red and purple varieties that are found to have higher concentration of healthful compounds.
Partially dried grapes, called as raisins, are found to be a highly concentrated source of nutrients and calories. To get about 500 grams of raisins, as much as 2 kilograms of fresh grapes are required. A cup of raisins produced from the fresh grapes contain as much as 440 calories. In addition, the cup also provides about 3 grams of iron, 1,090 micrograms of potassium and 6 grams of fiber content.
Commercially grown grapes are usually sprayed with pesticides and are treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color and also extend their shelf life. As such, before eating grapes, one should ensure that the grapes are washed. People suffering from asthma disease should avoid consuming grapes due to the sulfur content, or else ensure that those grapes are not treated with sulfur.