Grape is the fruit of the grapevine (Vitis vinifera), a shooty woody plant belonging to the Vitaceae family native to temperate Western Asia.
Although present in the wild in many parts of the world, grapevine was domesticated as centuries came and went, specifically to produce wine and table grapes. This fruit is much appreciated the world over for its many medicinal properties and health benefits.
- Gardening: how to grow grapevine
Grapevine and its health benefits
Sweet and filled with sun, grape is the tonic and energy fruit per se. With high levels of hydrating juice, it also provides many minerals (potassium in particular), fiber and vitamins.
- Grapes (red grapes especially) have an acknowledged beneficial effect on preventing cardiovascular diseases. Drinking red grape juice also seems to reduce bad cholesterol and increase the “good” one, and it also seems to protect against the spread of certain cancers.
- Several studies have shown that the ingestion of grape juice (again, red grapes especially) has a beneficial impact on motor skills and on memory.
- With high levels of vitamin B and C and antioxidants (flavonoids), red grapes help fight cell aging by tying up the free radicals that would otherwise damage cells.
- Fiber-rich grapes ease intestinal transit.
- Grapes, in their skin, contain resveratrol, a precious anti-ageing agent that has antioxidant properties usually involved in helping the grapevine to regenerate… and our skin does the same when we eat it! Resveratrol also boasts interesting heart-protecting properties.
- Grapevine leaf and seed extracts alleviate venous insufficiency and are excellent against varicose veins. They also help treat problems connected to capillary weakness: hemorrhage, nosebleed, hemorrhoids, bruises and petechiae (red spots on the skin).
- Thanks to embedded tannin compounds, grapevine leaves are very astringent and help recover a proper blood circulation. They are effective in case of chronic diarrhea and to fight against uterine hemorrhage.
- Spring sap collected from grapevine shoots (“weeping vine”) is a tonic, an antihemorrhagic and a wound-healer: it is recommended in case of conjunctivitis and ocular inflammations.
- Grape is refreshing, diuretic and laxative. You can drink grape juice as a therapy if you suffer from constipation, arthritis, rheumatism or gout. Such a diet has been shown to be effective against skin diseases, liver and urinary tract disorders, and against hypertension and arteriosclerosis.
Growing grapevine for its health benefits
- Unless you live in warm climates, we recommend planting grapevine under the shelter of a South-facing wall. In winter, grapevine starts suffering below 5°F (-15°C). Continuous freezing for two days at 28°F (-2°C) after vegetation has started can destroy the coming harvest.
- Grapevine can deal with practically any type of well drained soil but doesn’t react well in excessively fertile soil: the plant tends to produce more leaves and less fruits.
- If you wish to grow grapevine in a pot, choose a variety that is known to grow small (like the ‘Perdin’ for instance) which grows very well in 12 inch (30 cm) garden boxes.
- Stay on the lookout for downy mildew, powdery mildew, phylloxera, mites, wasps and bumblebees that often attack grapevine and its fruits!
Use grapevine in your cooking to reap its health benefits
For cultivars grown in gardens, the fruits can be eaten as is. It is also possible to make jam, pies and of course, wine. Added to the final minutes of a roast, grapes can serve as a side to fowl and poultry.
Grape seeds produce an oil of the highest quality, recommended in many diets.
70 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g) for white grapes, 62 kcal / 3.5 oz (100 g) for red grapes. With high levels of sugar, grapes also contain vitamin B, vitamin C and many minerals: phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium.