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Grapes May Improve Bone Health

A cluster of grapes packs a cluster of benefits. This tasty little fruit contains healthful polyphenols such as quercetin, resveratrol and anthocyanins and has been linked to improvements in heart and brain health. The nutrients in grapes have also been associated with improved bone health and reduced risk for osteoporosis.

In a 2014 study in The Journal of Nutrition, Purdue University researchers fed rats either a control diet or a diet containing grape powder, made from a combination of fresh seeded and seedless red, green and blue-black grapes. The powder contained all the healthful polyphenols found in fresh grapes including quercetin, catechin and resveratrol. 

Over an eight week period, rats fed grapes had 10.6% more net calcium absorption, 5.7% more calcium retention, 11% greater bone strength, 3.1% higher bone thickness and 3.3% lower bone porosity—a sign of weakness—than rats on the control diet. Researchers attribute these improvements in bone health to grapes’ polyphenols, which likely act as phytoestrogens, compounds that help prevent bone loss. Grape polyphenols may also help by reducing inflammation, a risk factor for bone loss.

Though the rats on the grape diet ate the equivalent of 3.75 cups of fresh grapes per day, which may be a lot for most people to eat, adding grapes to your daily diet may be a way to help strengthen your bones and lower risk of fracture. Top low-fat Greek yogurt with peanut butter and grapes for a unique twist on PB&J or add sliced grapes to salads for an extra sweet crunch. Snack on grapes raw, frozen or roasted—simply bake them in an oven at 450°F until the grapes are soft with crisp skins. For a light breakfast or snack, try our Fruit Salad Smoothie made with fresh red grapes and lots of colorful produce.

BONUS: Japanese researchers found mice on a high-fat diet gained 16% less weight when fed grape seeds compared with the grape-less group over a three-month period, likely thanks to polyphenol compounds.

Published June 1, 2015

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