Before you pass over that purple or light green cluster yet again, take another look…
Consider the humble grape. At this point, this little fruit – or cluster of fruits – may feel a bit… played out. After all, grapes have a habit of showing up all over the place: as raisins, jelly, jam, good puns, wine. Like apples, grapes are one of those produce items we’ve grown so used to, our eyes often skim right over them at the market, opting instead for something more exotic. But before you pass over that purple or light green cluster yet again, take another look. The simple grapes sitting before you come from a long and complicated history, with their first domestication dating as far back as 8,000 years ago. What’re more, they could be the key to gorgeous, youthful looking skin. Intrigued? Read on.
What are grapes?
Thought to have been originally cultivated in the Middle East over 8,000 years ago, grapes are botanically a berry and have been used as food and to make wine for nearly equal amounts of time. The yeast that occurs naturally on the skin of the grapes is what causes the fruit to turn alcoholic, which eventually led to the discovery of turning grapes to wine. Now, the majority of grapes worldwide are destined to be made into wine, though a small percentage is reserved for those of us who still like to eat them straight from the vine.
What are the benefits of grapes?
We’ve all heard of the heart-healthy benefits of red wine, but did you know the same benefits could be reaped by simply eating dark red grapes? Packed with antioxidant-rich polyphenols like resveratrol, grapes — specifically the skin of dark red and purple grapes — could benefit heart and skin health. The flavonoid quercetin present in the skin of dark red grapes has been found to potentially reduce LDL cholesterol and grape’s high polyphenol content has been shown to possibly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The resveratrol found in grapes could also boost brain power, helping to increase blood flow to the brain and neutralize free radicals. Grapes are also a rich source of skin-friendly alpha hydroxy acids, which boost cellular turnover and help heal damage caused by the sun, while collagen-promoting anthocyanins found in the skin of grapes could reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Takeaway: Don’t peel your grapes. One more takeaway? Rich in insoluble fibre, grapes could aid in digestion and tonify the digestive tract, helping your digestion work more efficiently.
How do I use grapes?
Lucky for us all, grapes are pretty versatile! While hot summer days are still upon us, I recommend popping a bunch of fresh grapes straight into the freezer for a healthy alternative to more sugary frozen treats (just make sure you wash ‘em first). Grapes are also an excellent accompaniment to salads, can be reduced to make sauces and glazes, and can be tossed into smoothie and juice blends. Dark red and purple grapes boast the greatest benefit, and as soon as grapes are turned into a different product — think raisins, wine, jelly, etc. — their overall nutrition goes out the window (raisins are still a good source of insoluble fibre, but bear in mind their sugar content is sky high). So the next time you’re in the produce aisle, don’t pass the grapes! Pick up a bunch and enjoy them as is, and know you’re doing right by your body and mind.
Renewing Grape Face Mask
Small handful dark purple grapes
1 egg white
1 tsp oat flour or oatmeal
Optional: A few drops of grapeseed oil
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Use your fingers or a clean mask brush to apply to face, avoiding the eye area. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with cool water and follow up with your favorite oil or moisturizer.
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