Grapes & Raisins

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Grape Expectations

By Chelsea Fisher

When Hollywood’s Mae West told her maid to “peel me a grape,” she had it all wrong, because the peel is where the action is. Resveratrol, the most talked about natural chemical in grapes, can be found in the skin of both green and red varieties.  Most often revered for its ability to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) notes that studies have found that resveratrol may also help slow the growth of cancer cells, and might inhibit cancer growth in lymph, liver, stomach, and breast cells.

Proanthocyadinins–try to say that five times fast–are chemicals found in grape seed extract that, according to The American Cancer Society, have antioxidant properties. These may reduce the body’s production of estrogen, which could affect hormone-sensitive tumors like some breast cancers. Grape seed extract, which comes from grape seed oil, has also been found to work against prostate and colon cancer.  Most table grapes do not contain seeds, and grape seed extract is often used as an alternative medicine. As always, make sure to contact your doctor before starting any supplements.

Many popular news stories discuss the health benefits of wine–call it the French Correction. But fresh table grapes can provide a number of great benefits too, including a hefty dose of vitamins C and K, copper, and manganese without the alcohol.  Typically wine is taboo during treatment, but if you choose to get your grape goodies with wine, try to limit your intake to one 5 oz. glass a day for women and two for men.

Chef Tips

Grapes are in season and most abundant from late summer to fall, but can be found year-round. When purchasing grapes make sure they are firm and plump and firmly attached to their stems.  Green varieties should have a pale-yellow hue, and red grapes should be a deep color with no green.  “Anti-cancer” grape-only diets have been on some alternative medicine websites. Here at Cook for Your Life, we love grapes, but believe they should be part of a healthy diet that includes many different foods, tastes, textures, colors, and vitamins.

Recipe Tips

Grapes are delicious on their own as a snack, but they can also be a great addition to chicken and fish.  They are a perfect compliment to chicken salad with toasted pecans, celery, and a very light mayonnaise dressing with apple cider vinegar, poppy seeds, and a bit of honey. Try making the dressing for this salad with grape seed oil instead of mayo. Or, try roasting red grapes in fennel, thyme, chile and salt, mixed with roasted hazelnuts and added to risotto with diced yellow onions, shallots, and a creamy cheese. For a simple delicious salad try, Roasted Grape and Walnut Salad. Grapes can also be frozen and added as ice cubes to sparkling summer drinks or just eaten as a kind of natural sorbet.Try using raisins in our Sauteed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts. 

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