The Great Grape Debate
Posted by Teresa Bitler
You’ve probably heard that drinking red wine in moderation can help reduce your risk of heart attack, blood clots and, according to some studies, even stroke. But, did you know that grapes and grape juice may have some of the same health benefits?
Grapes as a Super Food
Red and purple-skinned grapes, especially Concord grapes, are high in antioxidants, which have been shown to:
• Protect against heart disease
• Reduce blood clot formation
• Prevent damage caused by oxygen radicals
• Inhibit cell proliferation and cancer
• Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Unfortunately, you may not experience the benefits by simply increasing your intake of seedless table grapes since a grape’s antioxidants are mainly found in the seeds and skins. For an antioxidant boost, consume dark-skinned, seeded varieties.
Want an additional health benefit? Eating grapes provides the dietary fiber you won’t get from juice.
The Health Benefits of Grape Juice
Don’t count juice out, though. Concord grape juice actually has more antioxidants than the fruit itself since, during the crushing process, the fruit is pulverized along with the seeds, skin, and stems (also high in antioxidants) before it’s pressed and strained.
While research suggests that Concord grape juice has similar health benefits to wine, it has half of the polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, by volume as red wine, meaning that you would have to consume twice as much grape juice to produce the same effect you get from red wine.
However, grape juice hydrates you versus dehydrates you as alcohol can.
The Health Benefits of Red Wine
Red wine is more than just grape juice that has become alcohol. It’s more concentrated—each ounce of wine contains about one and a half ounces of grapes—and the alcohol magnifies the polyphenols, so you get even more antioxidants. Additionally, researchers believe that the alcohol in red wine may help the body absorb more of the antioxidants from the food you eat while drinking it.
But, moderation—one 5-ounce serving per day for woman, two for men— is the key. Drinking in moderation can decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke while drinking in excess can increase your risk.
The Best Choice for You
Even though red wine has the highest concentration of antioxidants, it’s not the best choice for everyone. For the best recommendation, be sure to discuss the antioxidant benefits of grapes with your doctor.