Recent extensive research suggests most beneficial attributes may lie in their phytonutrients rather than vitamins and minerals. Most notable phytonutrients may be polyphenols, which include flavonoids and phenolic acids. Flavonoids quercetin and resveratrol help prevent free radicals from oxidizing the bad type of cholesterol (LDL), turning it into a form that later leads to arterial damage and plaque buildup. They maintain normal blood vessel dilation and prevent blood clots that can cause strokes. Contain saponins, believed to reduce absorption of cholesterol and slow the biochemical pathways leading to inflammation. Resveratrol and others play a large role in both of those health benefits and also prevent the secretion of the hormone angiotensin II, which can lead to stiffening of the heart. Contain pterostilbene, a promising compound for metabolizing fats, including cholesterol. Resveratrol, highly concentrated in red wine, is antibacterial and antifungal, making grapes a good fighter of food borne illness. Antioxidant action ditches free radicals and optimizes health of circulatory system, making grapes a great promoter of overall health. Nutrients available several ways: eating grapes fresh, drinking wine and juice or eating toast with grape jam.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – C, B1 (Thiamin) and B6 (Pyridoxine)
Minerals – Manganese and Potassium
Significantly reduces risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis. Research suggests consuming resveratrol may help protect DNA from damage leading to lung cancer or other damage leading to prostate, liver, colorectal and breast cancer. May also lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
How to Grow
Grapes prefer sunny site with great drainage. Produce fruit from second year forward. Self-fertile, so not essential to grow more than one variety. (Nice to have a few different flavors.) Many different cultivars make it possible to grow grapes almost everywhere. Certain locations (like the Deep South) suitable to grow grapes only for jelly, juice or wine. Ask experts what varieties and types work best in your area. Before planting, amend the soil around the planting area with plenty of organic matter and adjust the pH to around 6.0. Get year-old vines from nursery. Support with a wire or grow along a fence or over an arch in backyard. Nurseryman can tell you how to train them. Soak roots in a bucket of water with a handful of nutrient rich fertilizer for a few hours before planting. Plant 5 feet apart in spring while still dormant before buds begin to swell. Once planted, cut each vine down to leave just two or three healthy looking buds. After planting and each spring, mulch underneath the area with well-aged compost or manure. If growing grapes to eat fresh, prune out any odd-shaped or diseased, and remove berries regularly in random spots in each cluster to allow others to grow larger. Harvest when stems turn brown and fruit is nice and sweet. Cut off clusters with pruning shears and store in cool, shady spot where they will last for about a month.
Pests include birds, wasps, grape berry moths, Japanese beetles and red spider mite. Birds can be completely stopped only by covering with netting or some type of row cover. Birds also love mulberries. Plant a mulberry tree nearby to help distract them away from grapes. To control wasps, fill a container with a sweet liquid (like juice) and cover the container with a lid having a small hole. Wasps will crawl in and not find their way out. Grape berry moths lay eggs on the flowers; purplish larvae feed on buds and flowers. Hang pheromone traps to control. For Japanese beetles, shake them off in the morning and set out bait containers that trap them. Most nurseries have pheromone or other baited traps. To stop red spider mite, keep plants moist by regular spraying with water. If resilient, spray with organic insecticidal soap or oil.
If the growth seems slow, apply a handful per vine of nutrient-rich fertilizer like kelp meal, fish bone meal, or alfalfa meal. One study found red wine contains about triple the valuable phytonutrients (like resveratrol) of white wine. Downside of regular wine drinking is the adverse affects of alcohol. Avoid this by drinking alcohol-free wine or 3 glasses of grape juice daily.