The Health and Beauty Benefits of Grapes

The Power of Grapes 

By Susie Ippolito 

We are fortunate to live in Syracuse, where fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant, accessible and affordable. The lines at the farmer’s markets prove the local popularity of produce. New York state is known for exceptional apples, dairy products and maple syrup, to name a few of our fair state’s top products. And, thanks to the humid breeze that blows off the Finger Lakes, we also proudly boast some of the best grapes in the world.

The great grapes

Phytonutrients and antioxidants fuel the power of the grape. According to Amy Doyle, a board-certified nutrition specialist and owner of Whitestone Wellness, we need these to fight free radical damage to our bodies.

“Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that wreak havoc by damaging DNA, cell membranes and tissues,” Amy said. “Problems arise when the level of free radicals in the body exceeds the level of antioxidants available to handle them.”

Grapes contain resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that benefits everything from brain health to skin health and protects us against free radical damage. Amy pointed out that while our bodies are able to protect us from free radicals, we need to bolster that protection by living a healthy lifestyle that includes foods like grapes.

Beauty and the grape

These days, we are as likely to hear the words free radicals and antioxidants at the beauty counter as often as we see them in the vitamin aisle. Local makeup artist, esthetician and owner of Green Beauty Bliss Erica Abdo reminded us that “proper hydration is an extremely important ingredient to glowing skin, shiny hair and overall health.” Erica also pointed out the benefits that phytonutrients have
on our skin, stating they “provide protection against ultraviolet light radiation and free radical damage,” which cause dehydration, fine lines and dark spots.

Grapes also contain vitamin B-6, which, according to Erica, “plays an important role in supplying oxygen to your hair follicles to assist in healthy hair growth.” Most of the antioxidants are found in the grape skin and grape seeds, which Amy pointed out “is why you often seed grape seed extract in supplement form” as well as in skincare products.

Depuff, destress and fortify!

Inflammation causes additional issues to any number of health issues.

Inflammation can be caused, in part, by free radicals interfering with our body’s process. We encounter free radicals throughout our day. This is only partly within our control.

“Some common culprits are mental and physical stress, a diet high in refined sugars, under-exercising, over-exercising, pesticide exposure, cigarette smoke and even sunburns,” Amy said.

Consuming foods like grapes can help to take that stress off of our bodies and aid in its efforts to repair itself.

What to buy, how to eat, how to use

Amy recommended purchasing organic grapes, “as grapes contain some of the highest pesticide residue over other fruits and vegetables” and, considering that most of the health benefits are found in the skin and seeds, she suggested eating them fresh and whole.

Even though their skins are potent, they’re thin and susceptible to quick deterioration and loss of nutrients. When buying grapes, look for flexible, green stems with the grapes firmly attached. The fruit should be firm and kept dry to maintain optimal flavor and health benefits.

“On a positive note, none of the phytonutrient content of grapes is lost when they are made into wine,” Amy added.

Lucky for us, grapes pair well with cheeses like bleu cheese and goat cheese, as well as almonds, pecans and walnuts. Sounds like a perfect combination for a responsibly enjoyed wine tasting party!

Erica told us many of the organic products in her salon use grape seed oil “to create soft, smooth, even vibrant skin.” Look for grape seed oil in moisturizers, scrubs and serums to bump up your skincare regime.

Both Amy and Erica agree that overall diet and wellbeing have a big impact on our health and the results show in our skin and nails. Be sure to grab a bright bunch of grapes at the next farmer’s market and have a healthy, hydrated summer. SWM

Read more from Susie Ippolito at susieippolito.com.

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