(Family Features) Grapes have been enjoyed for their taste and beauty for thousands of years. And today’s scientific research keeps on showing that grapes are more than just a pretty fruit — they’re also very, very good for us.
In fact, over a decade of research suggests that grapes help maintain a healthy heart and may also help defend against a variety of age-related and other illnesses. Studies are ongoing to uncover the links between grapes and heart health, eye health, brain health, joint health, cell health and preventing certain cancers.
Of course, grapes aren’t just healthy, they also taste great: crisp, juicy and sweet. Kids love them. And, they’re convenient, making them truly a Super Snack. Eat them by the bunch, or toss them into recipes like these.
Keeping Cells Healthy
Grapes of all colors — red, green and black — are natural sources of polyphenols, which appear to help protect the health and function of our cells. Grape polyphenols:
- Have antioxidant properties, which can help protect against cell-damaging free radicals.
- Can influence the communication between cells that support key biological processes.
My Heart Belongs to Grapes
Numerous studies suggest that consuming grapes and grape products may contribute to heart health in a number of ways. Eating a variety of grapes may help:
- Improve blood flow
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce oxidative
- Decrease inflammation
- Improve blood lipids
Seeing Is Believing
Research from Fordham University, funded by the California Table Grape Commission, suggests that grapes may reduce the risk of blindness related to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In laboratory studies, grapes offered significantly more retinal protection than the much-touted lutein, and prevented blindness.
Mediterranean Grilled Chicken and Grape Skewers
These quick-to-fix skewers can also serve as appetizers.
Makes 4 entrée servings
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, fresh minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, crushed
- 1 tablespoon oregano, fresh minced
- 1 tablespoon rosemary, fresh minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 pound chicken breast, boneless and skinless
- 1 3/4 cups California green seedless grapes, picked from stem and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
- In small bowl combine olive oil, garlic, chili flakes, oregano, rosemary and lemon zest. Whisk together marinade.
Cut chicken into 3/4-inch cubes. Alternate chicken and grapes and thread onto 12 skewers.
- Place skewers into a baking dish or pan large enough to hold them. Pour marinade over skewers, coating each one. Marinate for 4 to 24 hours.
- Remove skewers from marinade and let excess oil drip off. Season with salt.
- Grill until chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
- Arrange on serving platter and drizzle with additional olive oil and lemon juice.
Breakfast-To-Go Grape Smoothie
Jump-start your day with this easy all-in-one drink.
Makes 2 1/3 cups
- 1 1/2 cups frozen California grapes
- 1 banana, sliced
- 1/2 cup vanilla or honey lowfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup grape juice
- 1/4 cup wheat flake cereal
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 minute. Serve immediately.
Grape and Salmon Power Salad
Fresh grapes are just one of the “super” foods in this hearty and heart-healthy salad.
Makes 6 servings
- 3/4 cup pearled barley
- 3 cups firmly packed kale leaves, torn and sliced into ribbons
- 1 cup halved, red or black seedless California grapes
- 8 ounces cold, cooked salmon, skin and bones removed
- 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Cook barley according to package directions, or in plenty of lightly salted boiling water for about 35 to 45 minutes until it is plump and tender, and still slightly chewy. Drain and cool.
- Tenderize kale by blanching it in boiling water for 2 to 3 seconds or cooking in the microwave for 1 minute. Rinse in cold water to stop cooking, and squeeze dry. Fluff and uncrimp dry kale pieces with your fingers.
- In a medium bowl, mix together barley, kale, grapes, salmon and walnuts.
- To prepare dressing: In small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Gradually mix in olive oil.
- Pour onto salad and fold gently to combine. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
Frozen Grape and Banana Skewers with Chocolate Drizzle
These delightful frozen treats are healthy, too.
Makes 4 servings
- 2 firm ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/2 cup red grapes (about 16)
- 1/2 cup green grapes (about 16)
- 8 10-inch wooden skewers
- 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Cut the banana into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place in small bowl and toss gently with the orange juice.
- Skewer fruit, alternating two grapes for each piece of banana, and place fruit skewers onto lined tray.
- Place chocolate in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir well, and microwave another 10 seconds if necessary to melt chocolate.
- Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate onto fruit skewers.
- Place the tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Once frozen, skewers may be transferred to a sealable plastic bag where they will keep in the freezer for up to a week. Allow to soften at room temperature for 5 minutes before eating.