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Overview

Grapes are small round or oval berries that feature semi-translucent flesh encased by a smooth skin. Some contain edible seeds while others are seedless. Like blueberries, grapes are covered by a protective, whitish bloom. Grapes that are eaten as is or used in a recipe, are called table grapes as opposed to wine grapes (used in viniculture) or raisin grapes (used to make dried fruit.

Grapes that are eaten from the vine are called table grapes, as opposed to wine grapes (used in viniculture) or raisin grapes (used to make dried fruit).

While there are thousands of varieties of grapes, only about 20 constitute the majority of table grapes consumed.

Color, size, taste and physical characteristics differ amongst the varieties. Grapes come in a variety of colors including green, amber, red, blue-black, and purple.

In general, whole grapes have a slightly crunchy texture and a dry, sweet and tart taste.

History

Grapes have a long and abundant history. While they’ve grown wild since prehistoric times, evidence suggests they were cultivated in Asia as early as 5000 BC.

The grape also played a role in numerous biblical stories, being referred to as the “fruit of the vine”.

Grapes were also pictured in hieroglyphics in ancient Egyptian burial tombs. During the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, grapes were revered for their use in winemaking. They were planted in the Rhine Valley in Germany, a place of notable wine production, in the 2nd century AD. Around this time, over 90 varieties of grapes were already known.

As European travellers explored the globe, they brought the grape with them. Grapes were first planted in the United States in the early 17th century at a Spanish mission in New Mexico. From there, they quickly spread to the central valley of California where climate and absence of grape-preying insects, best supported their production.

In the late 19th century, almost all of the vinifera varieties of grapes in France were destroyed by an insect that was unintentionally brought from North America. Fortunately, agriculturists crossbred some of the vinifera variety with the American labrusca variety and were able to continue the cultivation of grapes in this region, one that is famous for its grapes and wine.

Benefits

Over 100 research studies on grapes (or products made from them, like red wine) have shown many of their health benefits to come from a category of phytonutrients called polyphenols.

Three types of polyphenols seem most important with respect to grapes and their health benefits: (1) flavonoids, (2) phenolic acids and (3) resveratrol. Interestingly, all three types of polyphenols appear to be most concentrated in the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes rather than their juicy middle sections.

Nutritional Profile

Grapes are excellent phytochemicals that are antioxidant compounds and also contain vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamin, vitamin C, manganese and a spectrum of trace minerals.

Disclaimer

Warnings: Too much red wine or red grape juice (excess) may cause head aces and anyone consuming red wine should drink in moderation to protect your body against the affect of alcohol.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and must not be taken or interpreted as a suggestion or as medical advise.

If you have any medical conditions, you should consult your health care professional.

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