As people are paying more attention to personal health and wellness amid the coronavirus pandemic, California’s fresh grape industry is touting the fruit’s benefits to the body’s immune system.
The California Grape Commission has produced an information sheet that combines results of health research on the benefits that table grapes provide to brain, heart and colon health.
It includes data from two professors at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy showing how healthy diets that include grapes “can help flatten the COVID-19 curve,” the commission noted in a news release.
The commission is also pointing to media articles that summarize ways grape consumption positively affects health. One from Good Housekeeping titled, “10 Health Benefits of Grapes That’ll Make You Want to Eat the Whole Bunch,” highlights how grapes help regulate blood pressure, lower the risk of diabetes, and could help with weight control.
Another article, “Feast Upon the 100 Best Foods for Men” from Men’s Health, explains the antioxidant power of grapes in helping to fight disease.
Media focus on the importance of nutrition to build healthy immune systems is important during a health crisis, Pennsylvania-based farmer and global nutrition advocate Steve Groff recently told Farm Press.
“My encouragement for people is to be really intentional about what you eat now,” said Groff, the founder of seed producer Cover Crop Solutions.
Grapes have over 1,600 phytonutrients that may also help maintain health in a variety of ways, from promoting antioxidant activity to enhancing cell-to-cell communications which help maintain the health of cells, the commission notes.
Benefits from grapes
According to the panel’s fact sheet:
- Higher intakes of specific nutrients appear to boost the immune system, while low intakes lead to less effective immune responses and higher susceptibility to infection.
- Beyond the measures taken to fight the virus in the short erm, long-term impacts must be reduced. Preventing and lessening the severity of existing cardiovascular disease and diabetes through good nutrition is a key way to do it.
- A recent multi-investigator study estimated that about 45 percent of all cardiovascular disease and diabetes deaths are directly attributable to poor diet, while another recent study estimated that poor diet kills about 530,000 American annually or an average of nearly 1,500 per day.
According to other studies, grapes are a natural source of the polyphenol stilbenoid called resveratrol that helps immune function, the panel notes. Grapes are also hydrating, containing about 82 percent water, which helps immune response, studies found.
Research also suggests grapes fit well in a healthy diabetic diet, help support a healthy brain and help protect against certain cancers, such as colon cancer, the panel notes. Scientists found that consuming about 2.5 cups of grapes every day for two weeks showed a significant reduction in the expression of certain target genes responsible for promoting tumor growth in the colon, according to the commission.
The fact sheet comes as this season’s table grape harvest is getting underway and is expected to run into January.