Health Benefits of Muscadine Grapes

Muscadine Grapes
Health Benefits of Muscadine Grapes (Image: nancykennedy/iStock/GettyImages)

Native to the southeastern United States, muscadine grapes (vitis rotundifolia) aren't the green and red grapes you typically see on grocery store shelves. Because of their thick skins and seeds, they're not everyone's favorite grape. But the thick skins are part of what makes these grapes so healthy. Like all grapes, much of the nutrition is in the skin — the thicker the better. From a bounty of vitamins and minerals, to disease-fighting antioxidants, muscadine grapes are worth adding to your must-try list of fruits.

Macronutrient Composition of Muscadine Grapes

The nutrients in muscadine grapes will vary widely, depending on the type and where they are grown. The USDA National Nutrient Database gives a general idea of the nutrients and amounts you can expect to find in the average muscadine fruit.

One serving of grapes is about 1/2 cup, or 16 grapes, according to Fruits & Veggies More Matters. That amount of muscadines has:

  • 55 calories
  • 0.78 grams of protein
  • 0.45 g of fat
  • 13.37 g of carbohydrate
  • 3.37 g of fiber
  • They are also about 84 percent water.

The protein and fat provided by muscadines is negligible, but the carbohydrate content — especially the fiber content — is valuable. Carbohydrates are your body and brain's main source of energy, and you need adequate amounts each day to be able to breathe, digest, work, eat, exercise and sleep. The recommended dietary allowance for carbohydrates is approximately 130 g per day for adults, 175 g per day for pregnant women and 210 g for women who are breastfeeding. One serving of muscadine grapes provides 6.3 to 10. 2 percent of an adult's daily carbohydrate needs.

Benefits of Fiber

Almost 30 percent of the carbohydrates in muscadines come from dietary fiber. Fiber is the part of plants that your body can't digest. It adds bulk to foods, making you feel fuller after you eat them; it plays a major role in satiety after eating, and weight management.

Fiber also adds bulk to stool and improves the movement of waste through your digestive system. A diet with adequate fiber improves digestive health and can be instrumental in preventing gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease and anal fissures, and it may even play a role in the prevention of colon cancer, according to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Eating plenty of whole grains, vegetables and fruits, such as muscadine grapes, is the best way to meet your daily fiber needs. The RDA for fiber is 25 g daily for women and 38 g daily for men. One serving of muscadine grapes makes up 10 to 15 percent of the daily fiber requirement.

Vitamins and Minerals in Muscadines

Muscadine grapes shine in their fiber content, and their vitamin and mineral contents are equally impressive. One serving contains small amounts of vitamins A and C and a larger quantity of the B vitamin riboflavin. Of the total 700 to 900 micrograms of vitamin A adults need daily, 16 muscadine grapes contribute 7 to 9 percent. One serving provides 7 to 8 percent of an adult's daily vitamin C needs, and more than 100 percent of the riboflavin adults need each day. Vitamin C supports immune system health and plays a role in wound healing; vitamin A is important for healthy eyesight and reproduction; and riboflavin aids energy production and metabolism.

Muscadines also contribute minerals to your diet, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. One serving provides about 3 percent of an adult's daily needs for calcium, which promotes the strength of bones and teeth; magnesium, for protein synthesis; and phosphorous for bone mineralization and energy production. One serving also provides about 5 percent of the RDA for potassium, a mineral necessary for sodium balance and nerve function.

Antioxidant Power of Muscadines

All grapes are known for being a rich source of antioxidants — plant chemicals that can reduce oxidative stress, prevent cell damage, and fight free radicals that cause cancer and other diseases. Muscadines are an especially rich source of phenols, according to a 2012 report in the Journal of Food Science. The skins are particularly rich in the polyphenolic compound resveratrol, which has been studied for its antioxidant benefits in numerous diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

Another group of polyphenols called flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and play a role in cellular enzyme function. According to a 2016 review in the Journal of Nutritional Science, they may also play a key role in antibiotics resistance and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.

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