The next time you crave something sweet and want to avoid the candy, grab a handful of dried grapes. Also known as raisins, dried grapes are loaded with vitamins, minerals and a host of other health-promoting compounds. Once you become familiar with their health benefits, you may want to make them part of your daily routine.
Blood Sugar Benefits
Many people avoid eating raisins because of their sugar content. A food's GI is an indication of how fast the carbs in that food will raise your blood sugar. The GL is a reference to the number of carbs in a food and how much of a demand it puts on insulin. Researchers from the University of California explain that people with high blood sugar should have low GI and GL foods, and grape products are both low GI and GL. Published in the September 2009 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition," their report states that not only are grape products low GI and GL, they also contain other health-promoting compounds and may be a beneficial food for diabetics to consume.
Dried grapes, or raisins, protect your heart in a number of ways, according to a study in the Apr. 16, 2008 issue of "Lipids in Health and Disease." Raisin consumption reduces bad cholesterol levels, blood pressure and inflammation throughout the body. Researchers believe these benefits are largely due to raisins' fiber and polyphenol contents. Polyphenols are naturally occurring chemicals in plants that contribute to their health benefits. They conclude that adding raisins to your diet will improve your overall heart health and lower your risk of heart disease. When subjects in the study added walking, along with raisins, to their daily routine the benefits were even more pronounced.
Oral Health Benefits
A benefit of dried grapes that is not well known is their positive effect on your oral health. The September 2009 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition" states that raisins contain antimicrobial compounds that help fight bacteria in your mouth, protecting you from cavities and plaque buildup. Researchers state that raisins make an excellent choice for a sweet snack because their residues are naturally cleansed off the surface of your teeth within five minutes of eating.
According the the USDA National Nutrient Database, a serving of 50 raisins contains a fair amount of minerals, the most abundant of which is potassium. Fifty raisins contain 195 milligrams of potassium, or 6 percent of the recommended daily intake. Other minerals, in lesser amounts, include copper, manganese, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, sodium, zinc, selenium and fluoride. Raisins contain small amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K and the B-vitamin family. The same serving size contributes 0.8 grams of protein, or 2 percent of the RDI to your diet. One of the primary nutritional benefits in a serving of 50 raisins is its 1 gram of fiber, or 4 percent of the RDI, which is a considerable amount for such a small serving size. A review in the September 2011 issue of "Journal of Medicinal Food" attributes many of raisins' health benefits to their fiber content and recommends adding them to your diet to increase fiber intake.
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."