Could a grape a day keep the doctor away?

By • Published: September 14th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Ever wonder why that glass of red a day is supposedly so good for you?

Studies show that drinking wine in moderation is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, moderate wine drinkers are 40 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who do not drink at all.

Now, researchers believe they may have one clue as to why — the grapes.

Scientists from the University of Michigan have found that grapes seem to stave off insulin resistance and high blood pressure, at least in rats. Both of these symptoms are associated with metabolic syndrome and linked to the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The rats were fed a powder created from grapes. The rats that chowed on this grape powder had better blood sugar levels and less damage to their arteries than rats who did not eat grapes. The grape-eating rats also seemed to have less oxidative damage inside their cells.

What, then, do researchers think makes grapes great at helping to protect against disease? The tiny fruit is packed with substances known as phytochemicals, which are found in fruits and vegetables. Studies have linked these power-packed micronutrients to everything from weight loss to improved heart health. Grapes contain several phytochemcials, including reservatrol, tannins and anthocyanin. Some studies have shown that high quantities of reservatrol in particular could prevent blood clots and protect against diabetes. But you’d basically have to eat a truckload or two of grapes to get that effect.

And in fact, just because a group of rats benefitted from grapes, it doesn’t mean humans will as well. More research is needed to understand the true power of the grape.

But for now, they still make a mighty fine snack.