There is more to grapes than healthy sweetness for kids, at least in the dark-colored ones. Dark grapes are an anti-aging powerhouse with a long list of benefits that includes protection against asthma, migraine, constipation, indigestion, fatigue, kidney disorders, macular degeneration, cataracts, high cholesterol, edema, and antibacterial activity. Perhaps the most exciting news about dark grapes is their ability to protect against age-related memory decline and even improve your memory.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggested that dark grape juice may be able to improve memory decline in older adults. In this study, 12 elderly adults with declining memory were divided into two groups. One group was given dark grape juice supplements daily for 12 weeks. The other group was given a placebo. At the end of the 12 weeks, tests focusing on memory and cognitive function were administered to the two groups. The group that had taken the dark grape juice supplement showed significant improvement not only in memory, but also in verbal and spatial recall. In addition, studies in laboratory animals have shown not only better performance in maze tests requiring memory skills, but also improved coordination and balance from dark grapes.
The high content of vitamins and minerals in dark grapes is largely responsible for their many health benefits. The fruit contains high levels of vitamins A, C, and B6, together with folate, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc, copper, and iron. Dark grapes also contain polyphenols rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce DNA damage caused by free radicals. Polyphenols have been the focus of research with regard to preventing such conditions as aging, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and even cancer. Recent animal research has indicated that polyphenols found in grape seeds can reduce the development of plaque in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s.
Not to be ignored are the grape seeds themselves, which provide added health benefits. Grape seeds are the source of the popular supplement, grapeseed extract. Besides being a powerful antioxidant, grape seeds are anti-allergenic, anti-histamine, and anti-inflammatory. Grape seeds strengthen blood vessels, aid circulation, improve skin elasticity, and promote healthy hair growth. Grape seeds contain flavonoids which help protect cell membranes and guard against oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Dark grapes and their seeds play many roles in fighting aging, including the reduction of wrinkles. They provide cardiovascular protection by strengthening the linings of the arteries, making them less resistant to damage from oxidation of lipoproteins.
Much ado is being made with regard to the anti-aging properties of resveratrol. Grape skins contain a high content of this compound. Studies done on the administration of resveratrol in yeast, worms, fruit flies and fish show it increases the lifespan. Resveratrol may have extraordinary health benefits, including lowering LDL cholesterol levels and reducing cardiovascular disease.
In addition to having many health benefits, dark grapes make a great tasting and nutritious snack for adults as well as children. Look for those varieties that still retain their seeds and be sure to eat them too.