Health Benefits of Eating Grape Leaves: Antioxidant Protection, Varicose Vein Fighting Properties, and More
You probably already know that moderate consumption of wine made from red grapes can have positive effects on your cardiovascular health. But did you know that also grape leaves are edible and that they are good for you, too? That's right. Whether freshly plucked from grapevines or canned, grape leaves can supply your body with a wide range of beneficial nutrients, from omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to magnesium and calcium. To reap the nutritional and health benefits of grape leaves, turn these tasty leaves into delicious rolls filled with rice, meat, or vegetables, or used them in salads.
But before you head to the kitchen to explore the culinary possibilities of this Greek delicacy, let's take a closer look at the wide-ranging health benefits associated with eating grape leaves.
Red Vine Leaf Extract: A Natural Remedy for Varicose Veins?
A double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study published in the March 2004 issue of the journal Drugs in R & D examined the effects of red vine leaf extract on cutaneous microcirculation, transcutanous oxygen pressure, and leg edema in men and women with chronic venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency, a medical condition in which the veins have trouble pumping blood back to the heart, is often characterized by the presence of varicose veins, spider veins, or chronic leg swelling.
The results were promising: After the six-week trial period, patients who received red vine leaf extract showed improved microvascular blood flow, improved oxygen levels, and a decrease in leg circumference.
A Surprising Source of Heart-Healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids
By now, everyone knows that cod liver oil and fatty fish are packed with anti-inflammatory, heart health protecting omega-3 fatty acids. But did you know that there are a number of plant-based foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids in significant amounts? Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and canola oil top the list of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but there are a couple of green leafy vegetables, including grape leaves, that make it to the list as well. Fresh grape leaves contain about 2% fat, a surprisingly large amount for a green vegetable, and a substantial share of that fat is omega-3.
Tip: If you're planning to increase your omega-3 intake by adding grape leaves to your diet, a good way to do that is to make dolmas (grape leaf rolls) stuffed with minced grass-fed beef and rice. You'll want to use grass-fed beef as it has been proven to contain higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids than the meat of grain-fed cows.
Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Effects
Whole grapes are a wonderful source of antioxidants, but turns out, grape leaves are rich in antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds as well. A fascinating piece of research published in the International Journal of Food Properties in early 2013 compared the antioxidant properties of grape leaves collected in May, August, and September. This study found that the grape leaves plucked in September had the highest levels of total phenols, flavonoids, flavonols, and stilbenes, all of which are known for strong antioxidant properties.
In addition, this study found grape leaf extract to possess antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, and Salmonella Infantis, Stapylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, and Campylobacter jejuni.
Grape Leaves Are Loaded with Calcium and Magnesium
Still not convinced of the health benefits of eating fresh or canned grape leaves? Well guess what, these tasty leaves are also brimming with calcium and magnesium, along with a number of other health enhancing minerals. Just one ounce provides 10% of the daily value for calcium and 7% of the daily value for magnesium.
Both calcium and magnesium are essential for bone health, but this mineral combo also plays a key role in healthy muscle and nerve function.
Spread the Word About the Health Benefits of Grape Leaves!
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