Have you ever heard of a muscadine? If not, you are not alone. This unique grape—known as “America’s First”—is popular today in the southern United States; not everyone has seen or tasted this particular varietal, however, and it may be one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. Popular for making wines and for snacking on straight off the vine, muscadines are also known for having a positive impact on human wellness, from the high fiber content from the fresh grape to the antioxidant count. In this article, we will introduce the American grape as well as touch on five potential health benefits of muscadine grapes–and how to access the benefits of muscadines if you don’t live in the American South!
What Is a Muscadine?
Also sometimes referred to as a “scuppernong,” the muscadine grape is the state fruit of North Carolina and will easily grow in hot and humid conditions with little maintenance or need for pesticides. The muscadine is cultivated in two primary reproductive forms: female, and self-fertile (read on for more about male and wild muscadines). As you may have guessed, the self-fertilizing muscadines can self-pollinate—but can also pollinate nearby female plans, which are associated with producing bigger and sweeter grapes. This delightful fruiting vine produces grapes that can be eaten straight from the plant or processed in a variety of ways, including jams and jellies, wines, and more.
Where Do Muscadine Grapes Come From?
Muscadine grapes are actually native to the southeastern region of the U.S, though they can be grown in warm and humid areas spanning from eastern Washington state to Florida to Mexico and the Gulf Coast. However, there is a European varietal (known as Vitis rotundifolia) in addition to the American breed (known as Vitis labrusca), which are part of the Muscadania grape family. Muscadines also grow wild, and in this state they are most frequently found as males—and some refer to the wild muscadines as “scuppernongs” due to their abundance along North Carolina’s Scuppernong River (via University of Florida).
Top 5 Health Benefits of Muscadine Grapes
Not only are muscadine grapes sweet and easy to digest thanks to their high fiber content, but they also are associated with several key health benefits—and there may even be a correlation between muscadine consumption and longevity. There are many health benefits of muscadine grapes, but here are the top five associated with regularly consuming this nutritious fruit:
1. Improved Skin Health: Muscadine grapes are rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols and resveratrol, which help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants can help improve the overall appearance of the skin and reduce the signs of aging. Additionally, muscadine grapes are high in vitamin C, which is essential for collagen production and maintaining skin elasticity.
2. Brain Health: The polyphenols in muscadine grapes have been linked with having a positive effect on brain health. They may be associated with improving cognitive function, memory, and reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
3. Heart Health: Muscadine grapes are a great source of heart-healthy compounds, including anthocyanins and resveratrol. These compounds help improve cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which can contribute to heart disease. Additionally, muscadine grapes are low in sodium and high in potassium, which may help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.
4. Antioxidants: Muscadine grapes are rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols and resveratrol. These compounds help protect the body against oxidative stress, which is caused by the accumulation of harmful molecules known as free radicals. Oxidative stress can lead to cell damage and increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, which are linked to improving overall health and may prevent chronic diseases. Additionally, antioxidants support the immune system, reduce inflammation,
and likely slow down the aging process. Some of the most commonly found antioxidants include vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and selenium. These can be found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Incorporating a diet rich in antioxidants can help maintain good health and prevent chronic diseases.
5. Potential Protection from Cancer: The high levels of antioxidants in muscadine grapes may help protect against cancer. Studies have shown that the polyphenols in muscadine grapes may help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells, and resveratrol has been shown to potentially have anti-tumor effects.
Improve Your Heart and Brain Health with Quality Muscadine Supplements
Muscadine grapes are a delicious and nutritious fruit that offer a range of health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help improve skin, brain, and heart health, reduce the risk of cancer, and support overall well-being. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, consider incorporating muscadine grapes into your diet—and if you can’t find muscadines at your local produce stand or don’t care for the experience of eating them, you can always order quality muscadine health supplements like Muscadine Naturals. Browse our industry-leading products here, or read up on the benefits of resveratrol!