The Mediterranean diet is famous for being healthy but what is less spoken about is the regular wine consumption in this traditional eating pattern. The health benefits, or not, of drinking alcoholic beverages is for another time, but let’s talk about table grapes. Table grapes, which are botanically berries, are nicer to eat and have been developed to produce a delicious, sweet fruit, including the seedless varieties we prefer. They come in a range of colours too including green, gold, black, red, purple and even blue-black!
One of the proposed health benefits of drinking wine is the presence of antioxidants, and I’m delighted to report you can get lots of these from eating table grapes as well. Grapes are rich in polyphenols that have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as a range of pigments including carotenoids. Observational studies have found regular grape eaters have healthier cholesterol levels (1,2). Darker coloured grapes also contain anthocyanins like those found in other berries such as blueberries. If you aspire to a Mediterranean eating pattern, follow the mantra of ‘no day without fruit’ and include different coloured grapes when they are in season. Eating seasonally is an important way to eat more sustainably and grapes are harvested in summer, although can be available 6 months of the year in countries with varied climatic zones and best-practice storage. Air-freighted grapes have very high carbon-footprint, so avoid these in favour of other more local, seasonal produce.
Table grapes are Mother Nature’s healthy candy, individually packaged within pigment and fibre-rich skin that ‘pop’ in the mouth for a flood of juicy sweetness. Luckily the natural sugars they contain are good for us and come along with vitamin C and a good amount of manganese – a mineral that helps produce energy in the body. Most grapes have a low GI, with just a few edging into the moderate category, so their natural sweetness provide longer lasting energy and won’t tip the blood glucose applecart. There is a lot of interest in gut health for optimal vitality and wellbeing and grapes provide both dietary fibre and phytonutrients to support gut health. Mental health is a concern for many in these challenging times and grapes offer several ‘good mood food’ nutrients, such as vitamin C for psychological and nervous system function.
Grapes are just perfect eaten as they are as a snack, kids love them in the lunchbox and they are a simple no-fuss dessert. They’re brilliant on a cheese platter, and delicious when dried into raisins or sultanas as a high-fibre pick-me-up or as little nuggets of sweetness in baking. Grapes can be added to pie fillings or stewed in a compote. An unusual use for grapes is floating in Spanish chilled soup called Gazpacho and they contrast beautifully with the earthy savoury-ness of the tomatoes, peppers (capsicum) and garlic in the soup. Their sweetness is also well matched to pork, lamb, fish and other strong umami flavours such as roasted cauliflower or goat’s cheese. They also really ‘pop’ in robust flavoured salads.
|4.5 Health Stars|
|Glycemic index 54 (average; range 50-59)|
|Serving size – 1 Cup (150 g or 5.30 oz))|
|Fats (g) – total||0.2|
|Includes: – Saturated fat (g)||0.0|
|– Monounsaturated fat (g)||0.1|
|– Polyunsaturated fat (g)||0.1|
|Saturated : unsaturated fat ratio||N/a|
|Carbohydrates (g) – Total||26.2|
|–Natural sugars (g)||22.0|
|–Natural starches (g)||0.0|
|–Added sugars (g)||0.0|
|–Added starches (g)||0.0|
|–Dietary fibre (g)||4.2|
|Vitamin C (mg)||7.5|
|Total polyphenols* (mgGAE)||1418|
|Glycemic load (g)||12|
- Lupoli and colleagues. Impact of Grape Products on Lipid Profile: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies. J Clin Med. 2020
- Ghaedi and colleagues. Effects of grape products on blood lipids: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Food Funct. 2019