Concord grapes for heart health?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Have you heard of phytonutrients? If not, what about flavonoids, polyphenols, or phytochemicals? The term phytonutrients refers to a huge array of compounds produced by plants. In fact, researchers have suggested that there are thousands of phytonutrients. In grapes alone, 1,600 phytonutrients have been identified! But before we go any further, let’s discuss what phytonutrients are and how they benefit your health.
WHAT WE KNOW
In Greek, the word “phyto” means plant. Phytonutrients (a term often used interchangeably with ‘phytochemicals’) are plant-based compounds that appear to have many health promoting effects, which is why researchers have focused so much energy identifying them. These valuable compounds are found in a wide variety of grains, legumes, nuts and colorful fruits and vegetables.
Polyphenols are one of the most actively studied sub-groups of phytonutrients, and can be found in many plant-based foods and beverages, from tea and red wine to chocolate and berries. They naturally protect plants against pathogens, parasites and predators and often contribute to the flavor and color of fruits and vegetables. Polyphenols can function as antioxidants and have been shown to be linked to a host of health benefits. And, while you can find these plant nutrients in a number of your farmstand favorites, think purple produce for heart health.
Concentrated in the skins and seeds of the Concord grape, polyphenols not only give this berry its vibrant purple color, they’re also behind its heart-health benefits. Research suggests that berry polyphenols, like those found in Concord grapes, can contribute to heart health by supporting healthy blood vessels. What’s more, nearly 20 years of research suggests that (thanks to the Concord grape) 100% grape juice can help support a healthy heart. In fact, a recent literature review stated that enjoying red/purple grapes and grape juice each day can support cardiovascular health by having a favorable impact on artery health, blood lipids, inflammation and more.1
Pump up the purple! Unfortunately, while purple has been linked to heart health, many of us aren’t including this color in our diets. In fact, just 3% of Americans’ fruit and vegetable intake is from the blue/purple color category.2 Below are some creative ways to boost the purple in your diet (your heart will thank you!).
4 Ways to Add Heart-Healthy Purple Produce to Your Diet
- Think Purple. Check out our list of purple produce.
- Mix It Up. Combine 100% grape juice (made with Concord grapes) with low-fat yogurt and a banana for a delicious morning smoothie.
- Substitute! Replace sugary beverages, like soft drinks, with 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes.
- Slice for a Side. Slice and grill some eggplant or roast a few purple potatoes with olive oil and herbs for the perfect side dish.
Fruits, Veggies & Legumes with Common Phytochemicals
Phytochemical Information Center (Scientific Detail)
Vislocky L.M. and M.L. Fernandez. “Grapes and Grape Products: Their Role in Health.” Nutr Today
. 2013. 48(1):47-51. View Abstract
2“State of the Plate Study on America’s Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables.” (2003). Produce For Better Health Foundation. Wilmington, Delaware.