Grapes

The gems of Dionysus

The combination of unique texture and sweet, tart flavor has made grapes an ever popular between-meal snack as well as a refreshing addition to both fruit and vegetable salads. In addition, very few fruits have garnered as much attention in the health research literature as grapes. Part of the reason may be their widespread presence in diets worldwide. But an even greater part of the reason involves the amazing nutrient composition of grapes themselves.

grapeGrapes are an outstanding source of phytonutrients, especially phenols and polyphenols, flavonols, carotneoids like beta-carotene, flavonoids like catechins and many more. Grapes are also excellent sources of free radical-scavenging manganese, a very good source of bone-healthy vitamin K, and good sources of heart-healthy vitamin B6 and potassium, energy-producing thiamin (vitamin B1), and immune-supportive vitamin C.

With their overwhelming number of health-supportive phytonutrients, it is not surprising that grapes have been shown to provide many of our body systems with predictable benefits. Areas of benefit in grape research include the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, immune system, inflammatory system, blood sugar regulating system, and nervous system. Another area of special benefit is cancer prevention, with risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer emerging as the most likely areas of grape anti-cancer benefits.

Commercially cultivated grapes can usually be classified as either table or wine grapes, based on their intended method of consumption: eaten raw (table grapes) or used to make wine (wine grapes). Table grape cultivars tend to have large, seedless fruit (see below) with relatively thin skin. Wine grapes are smaller, usually seeded, and have relatively thick skins (a desirable characteristic in winemaking, since much of the aroma in wine comes from the skin). Wine grapes also tend to be very sweet: they are harvested at the time when their juice is approximately 24% sugar by weight.

All types of grapes come in a variety of colors. While green, red, and black are the most commonly consumed color varieties, grape colors also include amber/yellow, blue black, crimson, pink, and purple.

Grapes have a long and abundant history. Grapes were very significant for ancient Greeks, and according to their mythology, Dionysus , the God of agriculture, was linked to grapes and wine, being frequently portrayed with grape leaves on his head.

Grapes are cultivated throughout the country, but largely in Crete and Peloponnese and there are plenty of varieties such as the Cardinal, the Rozaki, the Muscat Hamburg, the Sultanas, the Ribier, the Italia, Strawberry and Sideritis.

Enjoy your grapes fresh and cold from the fridge as a midday snack or a healthy dessert. Moreover, grapes are a wonderful addition to any fruit or green salad and they match nicely and elegantly served in a plateau with cheese as an appetizer or an accompaniment to a glass of wine.

MLGFB Tip:

Since grapes tend to spoil and ferment at room temperature, they should always be stored in the refrigerator. Loosely wrap unwashed grapes in a paper towel and place them in an airtight container or plastic bag. This way, they’ll keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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