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The best perspective for your health

Grapes (raw, organic?)

Raw grapes contain many vitamins (especially when organic) and can be used fresh, as juice, dried, boiled or fermented into wine/vinegar.
81%
Water
 95
Macronutrient carbohydrates 95.36%
/04
Macronutrient proteins 3.79%
/01
Macronutrient fats 0.84%
 

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, <0.1g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, <0.1g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 0:0

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Values are too small to be relevant.

Grapes (Vitis vinifera) can be eaten raw, dried (raisins) or made into wine. Grapevines have yellowish-green or red berries, the latter being slightly sweeter.

Culinary uses of grapes

Due to their sweet and sour taste, raw grapes are a very popular fresh fruit. The grapes grown for direct consumption are also called table grapes. They have larger berries and a thinner skin compared to wine grapes (used for the production of wine). In this text we will cover the European grape varieties (see the 'Additional information' section for details).

Fresh raw grapes are a healthy snack and taste good in fruit salad, salad or muesli (Erb-Muesli). The seeds can also be eaten raw. Light and dark grapes differ in aroma. The flesh of the blue, purple and red grapes is sweeter and more aromatic than that of the lighter colored varieties. Yellow to green varieties contain more acid and often bring a note of nutmeg with them.

Grapes are a good source of antioxidants in a raw food smoothie. If you press grapes into grape juice, you get a fruity and refreshing drink. Grapes are excellent for processing into jam, jelly or compote. You can also easily make syrup from them with apples and a little lemon.

They are popular as a decoration or topping on dishes and also in combination with hearty dishes. They look great on a vegan oriental couscous with pomegranate seeds, mint, basil and rocket. Boiled red grapes are suitable for adding a sweet note to dishes such as sauerkraut or other vegetables.

Some berries have a white coating on the skin. These are not necessarily residues of pesticides or mold, but a waxy coating (called bloom) that protects the grapes from drying out and is easy to wash off.

The so-called wine grapes are fermented and processed into wine, brandy or liqueur (like port wine). Brandy is made from the pomace or pressing residue. Wine vinegar is produced when the wine is left open or if acetic acid bacteria are added. Light white wine vinegar has a lighter taste than red wine vinegar. Grape seed oil and brownish-red and gluten-free grape seed flour are obtained from the seeds.

Vegan recipe of Grape Salad

Ingredients (for 2 people): 1 head lettuce (or romaine lettuce or Batavia lettuce), ½ red pepper, 50 g walnuts, 40 g fresh grapes (organic). For the dressing: 2 tbsp honey (alternatively agave syrup), 1 tsp mustard, ½ tbsp rapeseed oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar and 1 tbsp water.

Procedure: Wash the lettuce, remove the stalk and chop into small pieces. Cut the peppers into strips, chop the walnuts into small pieces. Cut the grapes into halves. Put all the ingredients in a bowl with halved organic grapes. Mix honey, mustard, water and vinegar in a glass and add the mix to the bowl. Add oil, refine with a little salt and mix everything in the bowl and serve.

To find vegan recipes with grapes follow the reference: "Recipes that have the most of this ingredient".

Not only vegans and vegetarians should read this:
A Vegan Diet Can Be Unhealthy. Nutrition Mistakes.

Purchasing - storage

Grapes can be found all year round in most supermarket chains and in the local farmer’s markets (when they are in season), including Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods Market, Target, Albertsons and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, Real Canadian Superstore and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia).

Storage tips

The grape berries are non-climacteric fruits. This means that they do not ripen after harvest. They are therefore best stored at room temperature (shelf life 4-5 days). If you want to enjoy them longer, you can do so for up to two weeks by storing them unwashed in a closed container in the refrigerator. The loss of aroma at cooler temperatures must be taken into account. Therefore, the berries should be warmed up to room temperature for about 20 minutes before consuming, so that the full-bodied taste of grapes is restored. Dried grapes (raisins or sultanas or currants) can be stored longer.

Ingredients - nutritional values ​​- calories

Raw grapes have a calorie content of approx. 69 kcal/100g and consist of approx. 80% water and 18% carbohydrates. Protein and fat are hardly available.1

What vitamins do grapes have? Grapes contain 15 µg/100g vitamin K, which accounts for 19% of the daily requirement. Artichokes and fresh carrot juice have a similar amount. In comparison, chard has a particularly large amount of this vitamin with 830 µg/100g. 100 g of table grapes contain 0.09 mg of vitamin B6 and 3.2 mg of vitamin C.1

100 g of table grapes contain 191 mg of potassium which is 10% of the daily requirement. Among the fruits, peaches and mulberries have similar values. Raw avocados have even more of potassium with 485 mg/100g.1

The micronutrients present in grapes include copper, manganese, iron, zinc, fluorine and selenium. The pulp mainly contains the monosaccharides glucose and fructose. The main acids in grapes are malic and tartaric.2,27

You can find the total ingredients of grapes, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values ​​with other ingredients in our nutrient tables. In the article Nutrients explained you will get a detailed insight into the topic.

Health effects

Are grapes healthy? Grapes contain many bioactive components. The stalk, seeds and skin of the fruits contain flavonoids, polyphenols, anthocyanides and stilbenes. A higher content of the flavonoid 'flavan-3-ol' is found in the white fruits than in the red ones. Anthocyanins (pigments), on the other hand, are mainly found in red grapes.4 Anthocyanins have a high antioxidant capacity and can neutralize free radicals in the body. The plant itself uses flavonoids as protection against predators and UV radiation. Extracts from seeds show anticarcinogenic and antibacterial effects in humans.3 In an in-vivo study,20 subjects drank 7 mL of red grape juice per kg of body weight and per day for 14 days. The scientists concluded that a lower thrombocyte aggregation in the whole blood resulting in cardioprotective effect was due to the high flavonoid content.5

The polyphenol resveratrol present in grapes has antioxidant and anti-cancer effects. A synthetic variant has been approved as a dietary supplement since 2016. The anti-inflammatory substance is mainly found in the skin of red grapes. In 2021, scientists investigated the physiological effects of resveratrol in red grapes and Japanese knotweed. It is known that cells release inflammatory markers such as interleukin-6 as a signaling substance during immune reactions when there is a bacterial infection. A 70% decrease in interleukin-6 was observed with the use of resveratrol. It can therefore be assumed that resveratrol significantly reduces the release of signaling substances involved in inflammatory processes and has an anti-inflammatory effect.6

The skin and seeds of grapes contain phenolic compounds of oligomeric proanthocyanides (OPCs). The tannins in the grape skin contain prodelphinidins and procyanidins.4,7 These phytochemicals have antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antibacterial and antiviral effects and therefore grape seed extracts are also used as popular dietary supplement.8 A study shows that proanthocyanidins protect red blood cells that are exposed to oxidative stress from UV-B radiation and inhibit the breakdown of vitamin E; thus, preventing the dissolution of red blood cells (hemolysis). In-vitro tests concluded that proanthocyanidin has a better antioxidant effect than vitamins C and E.9

Dangers - intolerances - side effects

Grapes are well tolerated and side effects are rare. In large quantities, however, they can have a laxative effect. The high fiber content and sugar alcohols (xylitol or sorbitol) can lead to diarrhea or gas. People with digestive problems should consume the more easily digestible seedless grapes.

Allergic reactions can occur in people with fructose intolerance due to the high fructose content, causing gastrointestinal discomfort, itching and swelling.14

Conventional grapes are often contaminated with pesticide residues. These can cause skin rashes or other allergic reactions. Even if you wash these grapes before eating, you can only remove part of them because many pesticides penetrate deep into the skin.15

The high use of copper (also common in organic farming as a fungicide) and its impact on the environment and human health repeatedly leads to discussions. Copper has been used as an inorganic active ingredient for around 150 years, e.g., to combat downy mildew (Pernospora viticola), and gets into the soil and groundwater. An excess of copper in the soil has a toxic effect on aquatic organisms.10 Since 2006, copper application in viticulture has been limited to 8 kg/ha/year in order to reduce copper pollution in the soil. The EU organic regulation allows 6 kg of pure copper/ha/year, but many organic associations permit a maximum of 3 kg/year.11 Copper is not only absorbed through the fruit, but also through the drinking water. One should observe the recommended maximum copper intake of 1-1.5 mg per day (D-A-CH reference values)12 in order to avoid a copper excess and associated side effects such as nausea and vomiting.13

Use as a medicinal plant

Grape leaves are used in the form of tea to treat the symptoms of diarrhea, inflammation of the oral mucosa, bruises, vomiting, skin rashes or varicose veins. Red leaves (Vitis viniferae folium rubrum) are used for vein problems, heavy legs or circulatory disorders. A study using a commercially available preparation examined the effects of the main flavonoids quercetin-3-O-beta-glucuronide and isoquercitrin (quercetin-3-O-beta-glycoside) in red grape leaves in patients with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). After taking the vein capsules, the pain and feeling of tension decreased. The edema on the patient's legs also decreased significantly.16

Traditional medicine - naturopathy

Egyptians used grapes or raisins as a natural laxative for indigestion. Today we know that the combination of cellulose, acid and fructose has a laxative effect. In ancient times, it was used as a diuretic (to dehydrate). At that time, ripe grapes also helped with vascular diseases, constipation, obesity and liver problems.

A noble drop is the so-called grape water (vine secretion, grape tears, bleeding juice). It escapes at interfaces on the vine where it sprouts and serves to disinfect the plant itself. It hardens over time to seal the vine's "wound" and protect from bacteria. In folk medicine, it is used to disinfect eye and ear diseases. In 1993, a chemical institute confirmed the disinfecting and antibacterial effect of the substances cineol, alpha-terpineol or thymol present in grape water.17

Ecological footprint - animal welfare

The ecological footprint of grapes depends on the country of origin, the cultivation method and the packaging. 1 kg of seasonal grapes grown in Germany or Italy produces 0.3 kg CO2eq/kg.29 Table grapes, along with apples and oranges, are very popular fruits in temperate countries - even in the winter months. However, between January and May, grapes are imported to temperate countries, such as in Europe, mainly from other continents, from countries such as India and South Africa. A PET tray with 500 g of grapes from these countries reaches the consumer's home with the help of a refrigerated container ships, trucks and cars, which results in twice the CO2 footprint (0.66 kg CO2eq/kg) compared to regional seasonal grapes. The greatest potential for reducing emissions in the case of grapes from overseas lies in replacing the PET trays with plastic bags,18 but ideally grapes should be bought seasonally and, if possible, regionally as well, and without any packaging.

The amount of water required to produce 1 kg of grapes is 608 liters.30 In countries that are struggling with water shortages due to climatic conditions and use artificial irrigation to irrigate the grapes, this has a particularly strong impact on the ecological footprint (e.g. Italy).19 With regard to the loss of biodiversity through water use, table grapes from the USA score 588 gPDF-eq*a (global potentially disappeared fraction of species equivalent / year) per kilo; Asparagus from Mexico (1768 gPDF-eq*a per kilo) and bananas from Peru (720 gPDF-eq*a per kilo) fare even worse. Table grapes from Italy are much more environmentally friendly in terms of water consumption with 42 gPDF-eq*a per kilo.19

Animal protection - protection of species

Pesticides are repeatedly used in both viticulture and table grape cultivation. One problem is that there is no legal limit for multiple residues. Only individual residues are measured and regulated. Tests conducted in 2020 showed that 13 different active ingredients can be detected on a sample of table grapes from Italy (34 samples were tested for pesticide residues, 26 with green grapes and 8 with red grapes). There were also residues in Italian organic samples, which are considered "drift" due to the low levels (the insecticide detected is not approved in the DACH countries). In general, pesticides were detected in 94% of the samples from Italy, Brazil, Peru, Greece and Spain.20 Pesticides have been proven to be harmful to soil, surface water, groundwater, terrestrial habitats, plants, insects, birds and mammals to varying degrees.21 Therefore, when buying table grapes, care should be taken to opt for fruits grown organically in order to not contribute to polluting the environment.

Worldwide occurrence - cultivation

Grapevine, Vitis vinifera, is a grape variety whose gene centers are in the Mediterranean and western Asia. As the oldest domesticated crop with more than 10,000 different varieties, it has been grown in the vineyards for winemaking for thousands of years.22 Archaeological findings in Georgia and the Nile Valley indicate that humans have been making wine as far back as 6000 BC.23 It was further spread by the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans in antiquity. The Greeks and Romans in particular used grapes not only for viticulture, but also as a source of food. They began to breed new varieties of grapes, and viticulture spread to Europe as well. In the 15th and 16th centuries grapes came to North America and finally to Latin America in the regions of Chile and Argentina. Today, the main growing areas of table grapes in Europe are Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey. In the winter months, grapes are imported from South Africa and India.24

Growing wild

Wild grapes can only be found with a bit of luck and on formerly cultivated and overgrown vines. Since these wild vines do not receive any care, the berries on overgrown vines are usually significantly smaller.

Possibility of confusion

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia and the three-lobed (three-pointed, three-leaved) virgin vine (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) look similar to the grapevine (Vitis vinifera),25 because they all belong to the grapevine family.25 Their much smaller fruits are black-blue, the petioles are reddish in autumn and the leaves are trifoliate and smaller than Vitits vinifera. Consuming large amounts of these berries can cause symptoms of poisoning due to the high levels of oxalic acid, which is why they are classified as slightly toxic. Symptoms include vomiting, gastrointestinal issues and excessive urination.26

Cultivation - harvest

Grapes are deciduous, self-pollinating, woody and liana-like plants. They can climb up to 35 m with the help of their two- or multi-armed tendrils. In the northern hemisphere, the vines flower from May to June and fruit development begins after that. The fruits are berries that are spherical to oval in shape and can be green, yellow, pink, purple, or black. The ripening period begins in August and they reach a size of 0.6 to 2.2 cm.27 Grapes are most enjoyable when they are fully ripe and are ideal for harvesting. Seedless (parthenocarpic) fruits, which are formed without fertilization, are very popular among table grapes. Seedless grapes can also be created artificially using hormones such as auxins.24

As climbing plants, grapes grow on walls or on trellis. However, since they are deep-rooting plants, they are not really suitable for planting in pots. Pre-cultivated vines (container plants) are commercially available. These can also develop well in pots. Grapes thrive in fairly high temperatures (average 8.5 °C, ideal 11-16 °C) and in locations sheltered from the wind. Regular watering promotes good fruit development, but waterlogging should be avoided. Cut back the shoots from the 2nd year onwards after the winter frosts to the desired shape (training vines).

A grafted vine is planted such that the grafting point is at least 5 cm above the ground; otherwise, roots will form on the scion or the rootstock will be shed. In viticulture, one speaks of refinement when a resistant variety (resistant to phylloxera) serves as a base and rootstock. The fruit-bearing variety (scion) is grafted onto the base using special graft cuts.28

Pay attention to the health of the leaves. Thinning out the leaves is the first measure in the event of yellowing, fungal or virus infestation. This also applies to the fruit: small and rotten berries should be thinned out. If everything goes well, the first harvest of the grapes will take place in the second year.

Grapes are harvested in late summer or early autumn, depending on the variety and climate. Physiological maturity is reached when the fruit skin is thin, the pits are brown and the flesh tastes juicy and sweet. In addition, ripe fruits can be easily detached from the stalks. Another feature is that the fruit stalks begin to lignify. The best way to determine the time to harvest is by taste. When picking, care must be taken to handle the fruit as carefully as possible and to damage it as little as possible in order to avoid rapid spoilage.

Additional information

Grapevine belongs to the genus Vitis, which is divided into two subgenera: Vitis subg. Muscadinia has 3 species and the Vitis subg. Euvitis has 60 species. Grapes are divided into three groups according to their geographic distribution: Asian, American and European. The European Vitits vinifera is most important for viticulture and table grape cultivation. The hybrid varieties of the American Vitis labrusca are particularly popular for making juice. American cultivars are interesting for breeding and crossing because they are often phylloxera resistant or tolerant to some species of fungi.24

Alternate names

The fruits of the vine are referred to as grapes. When used as a fresh fruit, the berry is called table grape. The terms sultanas and currants refer to raisins.

Bibliography - 30 Sources

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Jirovetz L, Buchbauer G, Remberg G, Nikiforov A. Inhaltsanalyse des Rebstocksekretes (Rebtränen) mittels GC-FTIR-MS. VITIS - Journal of Grapevine Research. 1994;33(2):97.

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