Grapes

The bountiful beauty of grapes is not only appealing to the eye, but to the palate as well. Known as the key ingredient for making wine, grapes come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes, and have flavors ranging from sweet to sour.

Most grapes are members of the Vitis vinifera family and are rich in disease-fighting antioxidantsThese antioxidants are the source of the belief that wine is heart-healthy. That claim is probably exaggerated, but fresh grapes are still a good choice for a naturally sweet snack with vitamins C and K and other beneficial phytonutrients.

Nutritional Facts: The following information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (92g) of seedless grapes.

  • Calories: 62
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 15g
  • Protein: 0.6g

Carbs: Most of the calories in grapes come from carbs, of which the majority is sugars. Each grape contains about one gram of carbohydrate. The glycemic index of grapes is estimated to be about 59, while the glycemic load for a one-cup serving is 11.

Fats: Grapes are a nearly fat-free food, providing far less than 1 gram per serving.

Protein: There is just 1 gram of protein per serving of grapes. They pair well with cheese and nuts, which are good sources of protein and can help build a balanced, satisfying snack.

Vitamins and Minerals: Grapes are an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese. You’ll also benefit from a healthy dose of vitamin C, which helps to keep immunity high and aids in repairing tissues, such as healing wounds.

Health Benefits: Grapes are a sweet, low-fat and low-calorie treat. If you are trying to reduce your intake of processed foods or added sugars, grapes can be a good substitute for snacks like cookies and candy. Most of the health benefits of grapes come from the vitamins they contain.

Help With Blood Clotting: Vitamin K is important for strong bones and blood clotting. Note: If you take Coumadin (warfarin) or other blood thinners, your vitamin K intake should be consistent. Talk with your doctor about your diet.

Provide Antioxidants: Grapes contain relatively large amounts of phytonutrients, especially flavonoids such as resveratrol (found in the skins of red grapes). Resveratrol has antioxidants that may help to lower the risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, blood clots, and heart disease.

Grapes also contain quercetin (a flavonoid), which may help protect our cells from damage. For instance, there is some evidence that quercetin offers a number of health benefits including being an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant agent.

Improve Cognitive Function: Some research indicates that consumption of resveratrol (sometimes in the form of supplements) can also help to improve memory and cognitive function in older adults.

Regulate Blood Sugar: Some research has shown that resveratrol can be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes. Resveratrol may improve glycemic control and decrease insulin resistance, both of which are beneficial for people with diabetes.

Low in FODMAPs: People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease may experience digestive symptoms when they consume foods high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols, a collection of short-chain carbohydrates). Grapes are a low-FODMAP fruit.

Allergies: Medical experts have identified five major allergens present in grapes. Symptoms of a grape allergy may include hives, rash, or swelling or more severe reactions.

Adverse Effects: Eating grapes may slow blood clotting (because of their vitamin K content). Ask your healthcare team for advice, especially if you take blood thinners like Coumadin (Warfarin) and monitor your Vitamin K intake.

Varieties: Grapes, both European and American variety, are grown in the United States. European grapes are harvested in California, mostly for making raisins, while American grapes are mostly used in making jam, jelly, juice, and other food products.

There are many varieties of table grapes, ranging from white, black, green, and ruby-red. Some examples include Adora, Almeria, Beauty seedless, Crimson seedless, Concord, Emperor, Niagara (white Concord grapes), Red Flame, Ribier, Ruby seedless, Scarlotta, Thompson seedless, and more. Each variety of grape has a distinct flavor. Seeded grapes tend to have more flavor, but most people prefer seedless varieties. 

Deep-purple, red, and black grapes are a richer source of antioxidants than green grapes. In general, though, there is not much difference in the nutritional value of grape varieties.

However, grape juices, jams, and jellies usually have more sugar than fresh grapes, since sugar is typically added in preparation. It is important to read the ingredient label. A 4-ounce serving of 100% grape juice has 18 grams of sugar, which is more than the amount found in a whole cup of fresh grapes (15 grams). A tablespoon of grape jelly has 10 grams of sugar.

In Season: What’s available in the grocery store depends on the time of year and where you live, as different varieties of grapes are harvested throughout the summer and fall. But you can always find imported grapes any time you need them.

When purchasing grapes, avoid grapes with mold or those that are shriveled. Choose grapes that are rich in color. Green grapes are the sweetest and best flavored when they are yellow-green in color. Red and black grapes are best when they have full, rich color.

Storage and Food Safety: Grapes that have a powdery-white coating are safe to eat. In fact, that coating is actually referred to as bloom, a naturally occurring substance that protects grapes from moisture loss and decay. Sometimes it doesn’t wash off easily, but it is safe to eat. If stored correctly, grapes can keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

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