Could diabetics and others benefit from grape skins?

A recently published paper in the science journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism has reported on new research carried out by scientists at the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England, which has found that resveratrol, a compound present naturally in grape skin, can protect against the cellular damage to blood vessels caused by high production of glucose in diabetes.

Patients with diabetes have elevated levels of glucose that circulate in the blood and which cause both micro- and macro- vascular complications by damaging the mitochondria. These are the tiny power plants within cells responsible for generating energy and when they are damaged they can leak electrons and make highly damaging ‘free radicals’. Serious complications can arise when this happens, including kidney disease, heart disease and retinopathy – which if left untreated can lead to blindness.

Resveratrol stops the damage by helping cells make protective enzymes to prevent the leakage of electrons and the production of the toxic ‘free radicals’. By including grapes in your diet, and other sources such as seeds, peanuts and red wine you could be helping prevent vascular damage caused by hyperglycemia in the future.

Other Health Benefits

You know how you take grapes to patients in hospitals? Well if you take them red grapes the resveratrol in the skin has also been shown to help with other health issues. For instance, if you have the flu, then resveratrol has been shown to prevent the continued reproduction of the flu virus if taken within six hours of the first infection. It has been shown to be anticarcinogenic, and there is also growing evidence that it can also protect the heart. It does this in several ways: inhibits platelet aggregation, the proliferation of smooth-muscle cells, and the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol. So don’t ask ‘Beulah, peel me a grape’, as Mae West famously said, but insist she keeps the skins on!