Black grapes, which are known for their velvety colour and sweet flavour, come packed with nutrients and antioxidants. With their cultivation dating back to 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, they are said to be the oldest cultivated fruit in the Near East and Europe, and are botanically known as Vitis vinifera. There are two widely known species of black grapes: the old world species is native to the area across the southeast coast of the Black Sea (near the south of the Caspian Sea) to Afghanistan and is still found in these regions with over 10,000 varieties; and the new world species that originated from South America and North Eastern America.Grapes are actually ‘berries’ that have a semi-solid, translucent flesh inside them; they may or may not have seeds. The most popular use of grapes, all over the world, is in making wines. However, the juicy fruit has also added a number of uses to its crowning glory. Apart from being relished as a fruit or in salads, black grapes can also be cooked in a variety of ways to make sauces, jams, compotes, desserts and more. In addition, it has some incredible benefits for the skin, hair and overall health.
1. Protects the Heart
A study done by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center suggests that the intake of black grapes may protect one against metabolic syndrome-related organ damage. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together – increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist or low HDL (the good cholesterol) and increased blood triglycerides – significantly increasing the risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Resveratrol, a compound found in grapes, is known to ease the flow of blood in the blood vessels, thus improving blood circulation in the body. The phytochemicals present in them help in reducing damage of the heart muscles and also aid in regulating cholesterol levels in the body, thereby preventing the risk of heart attacks and other cardio vascular diseases.
2. Improves VisionBlack grapes contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids, known to help in maintaining good eyesight. According to a study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, “diet containing grapes provide significant protection by shielding against oxidative damage of the retina and also prevent blindness.”
3. Fights Risk of Cancer
Black grapes exhibit anti-mutagenic and antioxidant properties that are very effective in combating all kinds of cancer, including breast cancer. The compound resveratrol is a rich source of anti-oxidants and certain elements that are capable of destroying the energy source of cancerous cells. A study done by researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Centre found that resveratrol may help prevent alcohol-related head and neck cancers as well.
4. Boosts Brain Function
Grapes work as a brain protecting agent; it improves memory and concentration and enhances the health of your brain. Due to riboflavin presence, it is beneficial for people suffering from migraines. Resveratrol, found in grapes can reduce the levels of amyloidal-beta peptides in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
5. Prevents the Risk of DiabetesBlack grapes are also effective in the prevention of diabetes. They are known to improve the regulation of insulin and increase insulin sensitivity. Pterostilbene is a compound present in grapes that helps to lower the sugar levels in the blood. Black grapes have low glycemic index (GI) value ranging from around 43 to 53, which promote better blood sugar balance. Point to note: smaller quantities should be consumed for health benefits.
6. Promotes Healthy Hair
The black grape seed oil contains antioxidants and vitamin E that help in better blood circulation in the scalp, reversing excessive hair loss, split ends and premature grey hair. Grape oil is also known to improve overall hair growth.
7. Immunity Booster
Black grapes are rich in vitamin C, K and A along with flavonoids and minerals, and as such are said to help in boosting one’s immunity. They are also rich in sugar and organic acids that help in relieving constipation, indigestion and treating kidney problems.
8. Healthy Skin
The antioxidants present in black grapes such as proanthocyanidins and resveratrol provides protection against harmful ultraviolet rays. They also help in the reduction of dark spots and wrinkles. The Vitamin C content of these grapes ensures rejuvenation of skin cells while Vitamin E present in them secures the moisture in the skin. Black grapes are known to increase the elasticity of the skin and improve blood circulation, thus leading to a healthy, glowing skin.
9. Prevents Bone LossA team of researchers from Denmark examined the effects that resveratrol could have on men with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome raises the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and has been linked to low-grade inflammation that can cause bone loss. Metabolic syndrome has also been linked to osteoporosis development.
The team found that resveratrol increases spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome. Towards the end of the experiment, it was seen that men who took the highest dose of the compound – 500 mg – had a 2.6 per cent increase in their lumbar spine volumetric bone mineral density as compared to the other participants.
How to Buy Black Grapes
The best way to ensure that you are buying fresh black grapes is to hold the bunch by its stem and shake them. If the grapes fall from the stem, it means they have been stored for a long time and should not be eaten. Bunches are held together if the stem is green.
Sometimes, grapes have a white coating on their surface. This coating, known as bloom, is a harmless, natural substance that provides protection against loss of moisture, fungus, and decay.
Avoid grapes with soft or wrinkled skin or stems that are brown or brittle. This might be a sign of freezing or drying. Grapes with bleached areas around the stem or leaking berries should also be avoided as they indicate poor quality or decay.
Tips on Storing Black Grapes
Proper storage of grapes is essential for keeping the fruits fresh and avoiding any injury or decay. Unwashed grapes should be kept in a plastic bag or an airtight container, and stored in the coolest part of the refrigerator. Grapes can be stored for a week, but their quality diminishes with time.