Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Health Benefits of Grapes and Cheese

I love grapes and cheese. The combination of firm, aged, salty cheeses and juicy, crisp, sweet grapes is divine. I've also found that the combination of the two sits very well in my stomach.

Ever wonder if your favourite foods are good for you? I do! So here are the benefits of mine. I'll start with cheese.

Mmm, mm, cheese!

High nutrient value
Cheese contains a high concentration of essential nutrients, especially high quality protein and calcium. It also contains other nutrients such as phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, riboflavin, and vitamin B12.

Good source of Calcium
Cheese is a good source of calcium, which is important for maintaining strong bones and teeth. Calcium is also important for preventing osteoporosis later on in life.

Little to no Lactose

Many cheeses, especially aged varieties like Cheddar, contain little or no lactose. So cheese is a great source of calcium for those with low lactose (milk sugar) tolerance.

Prevents Cavities
Certain cheeses, such as Cheddar, Swiss, Blue, Monterey Jack, and process American cheese, have been found to reduce the risk of dental caries. This may be due to the increase in saliva produced which aids food clearance, and because milk proteins can neutralize plaque acids. Casein in cheese also helps to protect tooth enamel by forming a thin film on the tooth surface which prevents damage. Cheese also appears to prevent acid demineralization and enhance remineralization of tooth enamel. Health professionals recommend eating cheese immediately after meals or as a between meal snack to reduce the risk of dental caries.

Prevents Disease
Diets rich in dairy products are linked to a reduced risk of developing insulin resistance syndrome, and (Hurrah!) lower body weight.

A diet that includes 3 serving of dairy foods and 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables reduces blood pressure and risk factors for heart disease, including lowering HDL-cholesterol and blood hmocysteine levels.

Cheese also contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Sphingolipids which help prevent cancer. It's high content of vitamin B developed during fermentation also protects against diseases and enhances blood formation, strenthens the liver, and facilitates the absorption of nutrients in the body.

Comes in Lowfat Varieties
Think cheese is too fattening? Well, it comes in lowfat versions made with lowfat and fat-free milk. This can be a great solution for some fat-conscious cheese lovers.

Another alternative for those that love cheese but need to watch the weight is to use strong-flavoured cheeses, like Parmesan, blue, or gorgonzola. Then you can use less cheese to add the same cheesy, delicious flavour!

But, full-Fat is better
If you're sodium-conscious (like me!), you might want to stick with the full-fat cheeses and consume only limited quantities. All cheese is high in sodium, and lowfat cheeses usually contain more sodium than full-fat varieties.

Lowfat cheeses also develop mold faster due to their high water content, and they don't cook as well as full-fat cheeses. It's the fat content that makes cheese pliable and fast-melting, so you're best to use a full-fat cheese for cooking or to mix lowfat cheese with a full-fat cheese. In general, low fat cheeses are best used 'as is' in sandwiches, salads, and snacks.

Another reason to choose full-fat cheeses for your snacks is because the combination of fat and protein in cheese makes it very satiating. As a result, eating full-fat cheese holds your appetite at bay for hours and can cut down on your food intake at subsequent meals. So go ahead and enjoy your full-fat cheeses, just don't eat it mindlessly!


Sources
National Dairy Council
Innovate with Dairy
Health Benefits of Cheese
Organic Facts - Health Benefits of Cheese
The Dairy Council
Men's Health - Benefits of Eating Full-Fat Cheese

Now, onto the grapes!

Gimme, gimme, grapes!

High Nutrient Value
Grapes are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and folate. They also contain minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, and zinc. You'll also get a good dose of fiber and protein.

Prevents Disease
Vibrantly coloured fruits and vegetables are good for you because they contain Flavonoids. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that work to prevent and counteract the damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, age-associated disorders, and other illnesses and symptoms.

Fights Cancer
Concord and other similar grape juices contain two groups of polyphenolics. These substances have been shown to protect healthy breast cells from DNA damage caused by a chemical carcinogen. In laboratory tests, grape juice reduced both mammary tumour size and the number of tumours per animal.

Slows Down Aging
Grapes contain resveratrol, a natural antioxidant that has been linked to reduced risk of cancer, atheriosclerosis, heart disease, and brain diseases like Alzheimer's. Research shows that resveratrol influences the genes that control aging by activating enzymes that slow aging. This can increase DNA stability and extend lifespan by as much as 70%.

Resveratrol is also found in peanuts, blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries.

It's Good For Your Eyes
Age-related macular degeneration is the primary cause of vision loss among the elderly. Boosting your fruit intake to three servings per day can lower your risk of macular degeneration by as much as 36%.

It's Good For Your Brain
Participants in a test that drank purple grape juice and similar fruit juices three times a week were about 70% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. When laboratory animals were fed Concord grape juice they showed significantly improved scores on memory and coordination tests.

It's Good For Your Heart
Grapes contain a compound called pterostilbene which has the ability to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides by affecting the enzyme involved with regulating fat levels in your blood. Pterostilbene has also been found to have an anti-cancer and anti-diabetes action.

Grape skin also contains substances called saponins that bind with cholesterol and prevent its absorption into the body. Saponins also block inflammation.

Resveratol, the anti-aging antioxidant, also plays a role in heart health by preventing the production of collagen in heart cells. Collagen in heart cells causes the muscles to stiffen. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood and to pump enough blood to support your body.

Grape juice also increases nitric oxide levels in the blood which reduces the formation of blood clots that lead to heart attacks. Drinking grape juice also increases blood alpha-tocopherol anti-oxidant activity by 50% . This means more protection from LDL blockage in blood vessels caused by LDL cholesterol oxidation.

Wine's Good, But Grape Juice is Better
You've heard of the benefits of a little red wine each night, but did you know that a glass of grape juice each day is even better? The draw back of wine is that you can't drink too much or you'll get intoxicated, but with grape juice you can drink as much as you want!

Alcohol also generates some free radicals and breaks down the rate of antioxidants in your body, so tests showed that people that drank grape juice versus those that drank wine enjoyed longer antioxidant protection.

However, wine does have one benefit over grape juice - it increases HDL, the good kind of cholesterol. So choose whatever is better for you.

Other Benefits From Grapes
Organic Facts - Health Benefits of Grapes says that ripe grape juice is an important home remedy for curing migranes. (I have never heard of this, but I'll try it next time!) They also note that the organic acid, sugar, and cellulose in grapes is effective in overcoming constipation and toning up intestine and stomach walls. Grapes are also touted as being good for indigestion, fatigue, and kidney disorders. Red grapes are said to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Brush Your Teeth
While grapes have many health benefits, they also contain a lot of sugar. So make sure you brush well after eating them, and don't eat too many.

Sources
GoogoBits.com
BuyOrganic.com
Organic Facts - Health Benefits of Grapes
Vegetarianism and Vegetarian Nutrition

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5 comments:

Audrey said...

We love cheese at our house. Always have some in the fridge - youngest son thinks it's snack food.

Aloquin said...

Thank you for the information, very helpful!

Urban Design said...

Tum, two of my favorite thing! Also, I didn't know that about the lactose with the cheese, good info!

Happy Cloud Moments said...

I have never tried grape and cheese together....but it sounds like a good and healthy snack!

pjturner said...

I love cheese and grapes! I have been into the oranges lately too. So much good information here, thanks!