Some people think of wine and champagne when they hear the word “grapes”. Others think of desserts and smoothies. And then some think of dried raisins, cookies, and cakes. It’s all that and more. It’s a superfood, a berry, a guilt-free dessert, and it’s also good for your skin.
Nothing beats popping a grape into your mouth – without cutting, peeling, or removing seeds. They’re small crunchy shots of yummy. They taste sweet and tangy and their juiciness leaves you craving for more. Did you know there are different types? From white to dark purple, with or without seeds, for making wine or for eating? And that they’re classified as berries?
You most likely have heard the term “superfood” again and again. Did you wonder what superfood really is and what makes it super? Although it’s not a scientific word, most say what makes a food super is that has more nutritional benefits but with minimal calories.
There’s no legal definition or standard criteria to class any superfoods. But, what a lot of people agree with is that they have a very high nutritional density while being low in calories. They contain a range of nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. They may also be high in fibres, flavonoids, and healthy fats.
Hence they help promote your health by increasing your immune system and disease prevention as well as reducing your chances of disease progression. Superfoods are linked with
- Heart health
- Strong immune system
- Cancer prevention
- Lower levels of inflammation
- Lower blood pressure
Sounds really great, right? So, here is the reality check: no single food can do it all. Then, adding superfoods is a great idea, but only when you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods in the right quantities. In short, a healthy well-balanced diet.
Superfoods may not be a recognised group of foods, but they’re mostly plant-based but also some fish and dairy such as
So, eating regularly fruits and veggies is linked strongly to a lower risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. And as an added boon, they also help to promote a healthy complexion, nails, and hair.
Now, how do grapes fit into the superfood category?
It already starts with the skin. What’s normally left over when wine is made, the skin and seeds are packed with plant chemicals – phytonutrients including catechins, polyphenols, resveratrol, and anthocyanins. The highest concentration of these valuable nutrients is found in the skin and seeds.
Of course, the grape flesh also contains nutrients but you’d be surprised to know that it contains no more than 5 percent of the antioxidants found in the skin and seeds.
So, eating grapes whole will provide you with the above-mentioned plant chemicals but also with vitamin B2, C, K, and minerals such as copper and potassium. The vitamins are essential to your health in general but also for your skin cells. The potassium content supports bone health while copper is a key nutrient involved in energy production.
Besides that grapes are considered a superfood and all the health benefits linked with it, research has found that grapes may offer UV protection. A study suggests that eating grapes may protect against damage to the skin caused by the UV in sunlight – of course in addition to the traditional sun protection strategies such as applying SPF.
Although all types of grapes are healthy, the darker ones such as black, red, and purple grapes are considered superior. The darker grapes have more phytonutrients including anthocyanins and resveratrol.
Even if the colour is not the only determinant of nutritional value, it’s a good indicator. Other determinants of nutritional benefits are for example the way the grapes are harvested and processed, the soil they’ve grown in, and the variety. So, it boils down to your personal preference and taste
Late summer and autumn are when you get fresh grapes. If it’s not the season, raisins, dried grapes can be an alternative. Though they don’t have as many nutrients as fresh grapes but contain 4 times more sugar. The sugar content comes about from the drying process which removes some of the nutrients but condenses the sugar.
Most important is that you choose an option closest to the natural form of grapes. You get the most nutrients from eating fresh, unprocessed grapes as compared to drinking the juice or eating raisins – although they’re a great addition to cakes and dessert.
People have grown grapes for thousands of years. Growing grapes, grape culture, wine growing, or viticulture goes back 8000 years. Several ancient civilisations revered grapes. Generally, it’s said that the Middle East first started to cultivate grapes.
For your skin
Eating grapes can help you protect your skin against UV rays. It increases the amount of polyphenol antioxidants in your skin which makes it more resistant to sunburns. There’s also a link between eating grapes and less skin-cell damage as well as fewer inflammatory markers after being in the sun. But grapes have found their way also into the beauty industry because they’re anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antioxidant.
Protect yourself against sun damage
Grapes contain natural plant chemicals such as resveratrol, anthocyanins, and other potent antioxidants. If you apply grapes or skin care products formulated with grapes on your skin before going into the sun, these phytochemical can act as a sunscreen. It’s the same as when you eat grapes, but your body doesn’t need to first metabolises before it reaches your skin.
Reduce signs of ageing
Of course, you want to protect yourself against the sun, since UV light is the main factor for skin ageing. But grapes do more: The antioxidants in grapes such as vitamin C and resveratrol may help arrest or reduce some of the signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Fade scars and even out skin tone
All the antioxidants present in grapes can lighten blemishes and even out skin tone. Perhaps best known is vitamin C, but resveratrol too can fade dark spots.
Reduce inflammation in your skin
The high antioxidant content gives grapes antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Applying them to your skin helps it to recover from infections, injuries, or irritation.
Because the nutrients are concentrated in the skin, you want to eat the grapes with the skin. But that’s also where most of the pesticides are. Hence it should come as no surprise to you that they are ranked 6th on EWG’s dirty dozen list. Before eating, make sure to wash thoroughly.
If you want to get the most for your skin, maybe consider a few tweaks in your diet. You may want to eat your rainbow of fruits and veggies. When it’s the season for a certain fruit or vegetable, make the most of it. You can eat them and if you don’t want your body to metabolise most of it before it reaches your skin, why not try a DYI pack?
As for grapes, they’re one of those snacks that you can continue to pop in your mouth just like popcorn when you’re watching your favourite TV show. Except that it comes with a ton of benefits for your health and skin.