Grapes are probably the most cultivated fruit around the world, only a small portion of the cultivated fruit is used as food; the majority of this cultivation goes to wine productions through fermentation processes. Raisins are also grapes, the seedless variety that has been dried.
Grapes and its derived products contain phenolic compounds; these compounds probably play an important role in the prevention and the delay of certain diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular illnesses. Among these phenolic compounds we can find phenolic acids, anthocyanins, flavonols, tannins and flavan-3-ols all of which are strong antioxidants and are present in high concentrations in grapes and its derived products.
Grapes are used in mainstream medicine to prepare extracts including: teas, tinctures, juices and syrups. In 1939, Rusznyak and Szent-Gyorgyi observed that a mix of the phenolic compounds in grapes reduced permeability and capillary fragility in humans therefore grapes and derived products have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-hepatotoxic, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-allergic, anti-thrombotic and antioxidant properties.
Anticancer properties in phenolic compounds have been related to the inhibition of the next types of cancer: colon, esophagus, lung, liver, breast and skin. Resveratrol (a phenolic compound in grapes) has demonstrated to have protective properties against cancer in trials that represent the three major stages of carcinogenesis. There have been demonstrations of its antioxidant and antimutagenic capacity.
Anti-atherogenic properties: it is believed that the relationship between red wine phenolics and cardiovascular diseases (ECV) is due in part to the presence of flavonoids and resveratrol, besides that several studies show that ECV mortality can be reduced through moderate alcohol consumption, especially red wine and beer.
Anti-inflammatory properties: this was the first know pharmacological property of flavonoids.
Antioxidant properties: is one of the most important modes of action for preventing or delaying the onset of major degenerative diseases associated with aging, including cancer, heart disease, cataracts and cognitive dysfunction it is believed that the antioxidant action is produced by blocking of oxidative processes and the free radicals that contribute to the generation of these chronic diseases. It has been found that various phenolic compounds of grapes, especially catechins, flavonols, anthocyanins and tannins have this capability.