Grapes, which are actually berries, are one of the oldest fruits in the world, first grown along the Caspian Sea nearly 10,000 years ago. The heavenly grape provides us with luscious wines, tasty jams, and a variety of other culinary delights. But simply eating them out-of-hand is a delicious exploration, with dozens of varieties available throughout the year. You can also test out some new recipes featuring these berries, such as papaya with roasted grapes and shaved parmesan, pickled grapes with black pepper and cinnamon, or a blender cocktail featuring red grapes, dark rum, and agave syrup.
Grapes should be a part of every healthy diet. Packed with phytonutrients, flavonols, and other antioxidants, grapes help improve your metabolism, cardiovascular system, and blood sugar regulation. Pack a bunch for a quick snack after your workout, and you’ll be good to go!
The California Table Grape Commission lists a minimum of 14 of the most popular grapes available in our neighborhood markets, from the purple-black Autumn Royal berries to the deep red Flame Seedless to the grassy-green Princess. So depending on your taste preference, you may find slim, oval grapes or large, nearly golf-ball sized berries, but all should have smooth skins and translucent flesh.
Some fruit may be displayed loose and bagged, while other grapes are clustered on thick stems.
You’ll enjoy a wide range of flavor with grapes. Some people believe red and purple grapes to be the sweetest, and others prefer green grapes because a few varieties have a tart zing. Some grapes, such as the Black Seedless, taste similar to a ripe plum; but a new type of green grape, the Cotton Candy, is as sweet as the name implies. The best choice is to try as many grapes as you can to find a taste you enjoy most.
Green grapes are readily available in the majority of grocery stores. Other types of grapes, such as red and purple, are readily available during peak season, and you’ll find specialty varieties at farmers’ markets and high-end health food stores.
Prime grape season in the US and Europe is June through December, but some varieties of grapes are available throughout the year if imported from other countries.
Look for firm, plump grapes that are free from wrinkles and secure on the stem. If buying a bag of loose grapes, choose a bag that isn’t completely packed with fruit so the berries have some room to move.
Avoid fruit that is loose on the stem, discolored, or shows signs of mold.
Some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. Grapes rank #5 on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list, so seek out organic fruit whenever you can.
The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits, when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible, is far better than eating none at all.
Keep unwashed grapes fresh in a plastic bag in your refrigerator for up to 7-10 days.
Like many fruits and vegetables, grapes are an easy “fast food”—simply wash, pat dry, and eat! Some people may take the time to cut out seeds if a particular grape variety contains them, but others may simply pick them out as they eat.
The majority of the manganese in the body is stored in the bones and organ tissue, mainly the liver and kidneys. Manganese is responsible for production and maintenance of sex hormones, blood-sugar regulation, brain and nerve function, calcium regulation and absorption, and carbohydrate metabolism.
Vitamin K, specifically vitamin K2, is helpful for regulating and directing dietary calcium in and out of the bones. It is also responsible for proper blood clotting and may aid in protecting the arteries from calcification.
Thiamine, or vitamin B1, plays an active role in metabolizing carbohydrates into a useable form of energy. B1 also contributes toward proper nerve function and acts as a coenzyme to convert ketones into other coenzymes necessary for cell metabolism.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure, reducing heart disease risk.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
Many researchers consider grapes to be a superfood, providing you with an arsenal of antioxidants, known as polyphenols, and anti-inflammatory properties. An ample serving of grapes in your healthy diet may help you reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. You’ll also benefit from a solid dose of manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar.
- The Concord grape is the only variety native to the US. All other grapes grown in the US are from imported vines.
- It takes approximately two and a half pounds of grapes to produce one bottle of wine.
- In the US, 97% of grapes sold come from California. There are more than 50 varieties grown in the state.