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Are Sour Grapes Better For Health?

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Sour grapes or the tart juice (verjuice) from them might make your taste buds tingle, but there is a lot of goodness in them you wouldn't want to miss out on. Packed with antioxidants they can enhance your phytosterol power to fight tumors, lower your blood pressure and improve your lipid profile to counter the atherosclerotic effects of cholesterol.

Sour grapes or the tart juice from them might make your taste buds tingle, but there’s a lot of goodness in them you wouldn’t want to miss out on. Packed with antioxidants, the juice can work wonders on your lipid profile and blood pressure among other things. It may well be time to steel yourself and down some of this tart fruit!

What Is A Sour Grape?

Grapes generally become sweeter as they ripen, though the sweetness tends to vary. A sour grape is quite simply the unripened grape that’s available a few weeks before the bunches of grapes ripen on their vines for use in juices or wines, or to be sold as fruit. Even if you haven’t heard of the sour grape, you’ve probably encountered its derivative sour grape juice, better known as verjuice. Verjuice has captured the imagination of chefs the world over and made its way into many a recipe at bistros and upmarket cafes.

In certain cultures like that of Iran, consuming sour or unripe grapes is a long-standing tradition. Called ghooreh, these sour green grapes are enough to make the most poker-faced person wince. Which is why it is used to season or spice up a dish with its distinctive flavor. In Iran, the fruit is used ground up, dried, pressed, or whole as a fresh or frozen ingredient. A number of delicious pickles and pastes in the region also use the sour grape.

Sour grapes have some benefits over regular ripened sweet grapes. What follows should give you good reason to consider eating grapes while they are still sour, green, and unripened.

Get More Phytosterol Power To Fight Tumors

One study investigated the levels of the good plant sterols called phytosterols in grapes going from unripe, sour all the way to ripe, “ready” grapes. They found that levels of phytosterols declined as the grape moved from the pre-véraison to véraison stage, marking the ripening and change of color of the berry.1 And that’s significant because phytosterols have been found to have anti-tumor properties, so the more you can get the better.2

Counter The Atherosclerotic Effects Of Cholesterol

An animal study in 2011 found that consuming verjuice helped offset some of the harmful effects of a very cholesterol-rich diet. The intake of sour grape juice staved off the atherogenic effects responsible for deposits of lipids, atheromas, and calcium buildup in arteries. The long-term study also found that it prevented the increase of fibrinogen as well as atherosclerotic lesions.3

Increase Ratio Of HDL to LDL

A study of a mix of 20- to 30-year-old healthy individuals, 30- to 60-year-old hyperlipidemic patients, and 30- to 60-year-old hyperlipidemic patients who were also hypertensive found verjuice consumption had beneficial effects. They each took a 200 ml portion twice daily for a 30-day period. For those in good health, this therapy caused the ratio of the good HDL(high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol to go up compared to LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Additionally, those with the pre-existing problems saw their triglyceride levels, cholesterol concentrations, and LDL levels drop after taking verjuice for a month.4

Amp Up Antioxidants

Unripe grape juice can also help deliver high quantities of antioxidants to the body. Antioxidants have a range of beneficial effects on the body, owing to their ability to combat free radical damage(implicated in ailments like cancer). One group of researchers investigating the antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of unripe grape extract deemed it a low-cost, all-natural source of dietary antioxidants.5

Lower Blood Pressure

In the same month-long study on consumption of 200 ml of verjuice, the blood pressure of those test subjects who were hyperlipidemic, as well as those who were hyperlipidemic and hypertensive, reduced significantly. The researchers did, however, caution that though there was a considerable drop, the levels didn’t return to normal.6

How You Can Use Sour Grapes

Sour grapes are a great addition to a salad, instantly perking it up with their addictive sour taste. Whip up a batch in your blender and store the juice in your freezer to use in place of a citrus element in any vinaigrette. You could also try some traditional Iranian recipes that use sour grapes (like the eggplant stew called khoresh bademjaan), or add some into the mix in a rolled, stuffed grape leaf like the Greek dolmadakia. Some innovative foodies have also mastered a sour grape martini that will probably leave you shaken and stirred!

References   [ + ]

1.Ruggiero, Antonietta, Sara Vitalini, Nedda Burlini, Silvana Bernasconi, and Marcello Iriti. “Phytosterols in grapes and wine, and effects of agrochemicals on their levels.” Food chemistry 141, no. 4 (2013): 3473-3479.
2.Ling, W. H., and P. J. H. Jones. “Dietary phytosterols: a review of metabolism, benefits and side effects.” Life sciences 57, no. 3 (1995): 195-206.
3.Setorki, Mahbubeh, Bahar Nazari, Sedighe Asgary, Leila Azadbakht, and Mahmoud Rafieian-Kopaei. “Anti atherosclerotic effects of verjuice on hypocholesterolemic rabbits.” African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 5, no. 8 (2011): 1038-1045.
4, 6.Alipour, Mohsen, Parvin Davoudi, and Zahra Davoudi. “Effects of unripe grape juice (verjuice) on plasma lipid profile, blood pressure, malondialdehyde and total antioxidant capacity in normal, hyperlipidemic and hyperlipidemic with hypertensive human volunteers.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 6, no. 45 (2012): 5677-5683.
5.Shojaee‐Aliabadi, Saeedeh, Seyede M. Hosseini, Brijesh Tiwari, Maryam Hashemi, Ghasem Fadavi, and Ramin Khaksar. “Polyphenols content and antioxidant activity of Ghure (unripe grape) marc extract: influence of extraction time, temperature and solvent type.” International Journal of Food Science & Technology 48, no. 2 (2013): 412-418.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.