Lots of longevity stars live in the production department. And while it’s true that all fruits and vegetables have their own unique nutritional benefits, there are some foods that go the extra way (or in this case, you might say the extra year). One variety that has received its fair share of attention in the scientific community is the muscadine grape.
Muscadine grapes are native to the southern United States. The fact that it doesn’t have to be imported from outside the country means it’s commonly found in grocery stores across the country – especially during August and October, when they are in season. There are several reasons why this particular grape stands out in terms of health benefits, which have been identified by experts. Keep reading to find out what they are and how to reap the maximum benefits from them.
Why are muscadine grapes associated with longevity?
Protiva Das studied Ph.D., Islam Al-Sharqawi studied Muscadine grapes, and co-authored a research paper published in the scientific journal, Antioxidants. They explain that one of the main reasons muscadine grapes are more associated with longevity than other grape varieties is that they are high in antioxidants. (Another separate study published in the same journal supports this.) Sharkawy, who is an assistant professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and is currently conducting research on how grapes can be used to prevent and treat disease, says Dr.
Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant associated with lowering blood pressure and lowering the risk of heart disease. Dr. El-Sharqawy says that not only do muscadine grapes contain a large number of other grapes, but the quality of flavonoids is better as well. Looking at muscadine grapes, it makes sense; They are larger than other grapes, so it makes sense that they contain more antioxidants than smaller grapes.
Dr. Das says that the high flavonoid component isn’t all that makes muscadine grapes special. She says these grapes contain a wider range of antioxidants than other grapes. So there are not only a large number of flavonoids, but also a variety of antioxidants. “Some of these compounds are closely associated with longevity, such as gallic acid and catechins,” says Dr. Das.
Dr. Das says that these antioxidants protect the human body from free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can damage cells. We are constantly in contact with these free radicals through our environment and food, and antioxidants go to battle for our bodies, working to fight them — and ward off chronic disease in the process. In fact, Dr. El-Sharkawy says that some of the research he’s currently working on revolves around whether encapsulation of these specific compounds, such as gallic acid, could work as a drug for certain types of cancers, including breast cancer.
Interestingly, both experts say that while muscadine grapes have been linked to longevity, they are not convinced that wine, nor the hype around resveratrol, is a type of polyphenol. While some studies link resveratrol to longevity, Dr. El-Sharkawy says focusing on it is a “big mistake.” Dr. Dass adds that resveratrol isn’t actually found in muscadine grapes, so the connection is irrelevant anyway, in terms of this particular grape.
Erin Barrett, Ph.D., director of scientific affairs and product innovation at Shaklee, says Shaklee researchers see this as true, too. Dr. Barrett explains: “The researchers questioned why the rates of cardiovascular disease were lower in France despite drinking a lot of red wine. This has been considered a French paradox.” “For this reason, resveratrol, which is in red wine, was seen as this miracle molecule, but there are actually thousands of molecules in red wine, and when scientists started doing clinical trials, they saw that the evidence to support resveratrol was lacking.” Unfortunate friends, red wine cannot offer the same benefits as muscadine grapes.
How to get the maximum benefits from your muscadine grapes
If you’re eating muscadine grapes with longevity in mind, Dr. Das and Dr. El Sharkawy say it’s important to know that the benefits are primarily in the skin and seeds — so make sure you don’t buy seedless grapes. They say that the rest of the grapes are primarily water.
In terms of how many muscadine grapes you should eat on a regular basis to benefit from, they say it’s hard to say because it hasn’t been identified in scientific studies. Their advice is not to overdo it with the grape filling. It’s the addition of fruit along with other nutrient-rich foods, which makes it one piece of the long-lasting food puzzle.
If you’re interested in boosting your intake with a supplement, Shaklee sells it as an extract in their supplement, Vivix ($67). (Other brands selling Muscadine grape supplements include Nature’s Pearl ($40) and Health As It Ought To Be ($25.) Dr. Barrett says Shackley source the seeds and skins of Muscadine grapes from winemakers. Otherwise, these are the important parts of the grapes. It goes to waste but now is recycled and used in supplements.“We built an extraction facility directly in the vineyards that really focused on the seeds and pulp,” says Dr. Barrett.
Muscadine grapes are just one of the many foods associated with longevity, but it’s certainly one that interests researchers — especially because it’s grown in the United States and is easily accessible, for most people. Add it to your cart on your next grocery trip and you can say you’ll get *array* of additional health benefits.
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