This month in honor of American Heart Month, every day, we’re calling out the top foods for your heart!
Grapes are not something you might think about as a superfood for your heart and health, but don’t be fooled - grapes, especially the dark purple versions, pack a powerful nutritional punch.
What’s so great about purple? The deep purple found in certain types of grapes (and other foods) indicates the presence of polyphenols, specifically anthocyanins, plant nutrients that help promote health. Berry polyphenols can act as antioxidants and according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation play a role in heart health by supporting healthy blood vessels.
Grapes are rich in antioxidants, and in addition to providing conventional antioxidants like vitamin C and manganese, grapes are rich in antioxidant phytonutrients that range from carotenoids like beta-carotene to the more unusual resveratrol (the longevity antioxidant you’ve heard about in wine). Amazingly, the total number of different antioxidant nutrients in grapes runs well into the hundreds! Keep in mind that the seed and the skin contain the richest concentration of antioxidants.
Grapes are also rich in vitamin K, which benefits the heart as it allows for normal blood clotting.
More specific to heart health, grapes are associated with better blood pressure regulation, better total cholesterol regulation, reduced LDL cholesterol levels and oxidation, reduced likelihood of cell adhesion to the blood vessel walls, and better inflammatory regulation in the blood.
In addition, grapes have long been classified as a low glycemic index (GI) food, and the low GI value of grapes is also a good indicator of their blood sugar benefits. Better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation, and increased insulin sensitivity have now been connected with intake of grape juices, grape extracts, and individual phytonutrients found in grapes. All of these factor in to lower inflammation in the body, a key component to keeping heart disease at bay.