How to Include Grapes in Your Weight Loss Diet
There is something about biting into a crisp, sweet grape on a hot afternoon that just feels a bit decadent. That delightful burst of fresh, juicy flavor that is so refreshing. But they are so sweet! Can grapes really be good for weight loss?
It's no secret that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with weight loss and recent research has supported that. Grapes are no exception and can be a delicious part of any weight loss plan.1
Let’s take a deep dive into grapes and look at why they are good for weight loss and the other health benefits you may get from eating them. Then we'll talk about some fun ways to include them in your diet.
Types of Grapes
There are thousands of varieties of grapes but only a few that you typically find in grocery stores. The most common grapes are table grapes. These include Thompson or sultana grape, crimson seedless grape, red globes, cotton candy, and flame grapes.2
The flavor of each variety varies a bit. Some are very sweet, like the Thompson grape, while others have a tangy flavor, like the red crimson grape. Then there is the cotton candy grape that is true to its name and has a bit of a cotton candy flavor.
Nutrition of Grapes (per 100g or about ¾ cup)
Grapes are a good source of many nutrients.3The nutritional content between the varieties is similar:
Carbohydrates: 19 - 20g
Sugars: 16 - 17g
Fiber: 1 - 1.5g
Because of their fiber content, grapes have a relatively low glycemic index score of 53 and a glycemic load of only 5.
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>You can read more about the glycemic index and glycemic load </strong> <a href="/blog/how-glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-impacts-glucose">here</a>.</p>
While the macronutrients are impressive, the shining star in grapes is their polyphenol content. Polyphenols are antioxidants that give the grapes their deep, rich color. The most abundant, and well-known in grapes is resveratrol. Its concentration is highest in red and purple grapes.
Grapes are also rich in anthocyanins, which are found in varying levels in the skin of the grape. Anthocyanins reduce oxidation and have been shown to have prebiotic activity in the gastrointestinal tract.4Prebiotics help keep your gut healthy which has been found to help reduce insulin resistance and inflammation.5
Health Benefits of Grapes
Resveratrol has many health benefits attributed to it including:
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Improved insulin sensitivity.
- Reduced risk of cognitive impairment.
- Helps support eye health.
- Reduced risk of some types of cancer.
- Improvements in muscle strength with exercise.6
Understanding resveratrol’s role in heart disease risk goes back to something called “the French paradox.” Researchers noted that people in France had much lower rates of heart disease than in other western countries, despite their high-fat diet. One common thread was their moderate intake of wine. Red wine in particular.7
Over many years researchers looked at the components of red wine focusing on the polyphenols in the grape skin.
Polyphenols appear to reduce cholesterol absorption and uptake by the liver. But it’s not just wine that does it. Some research has shown drinking grape juice increases HDL or “good” cholesterol levels and lowers homocysteine levels which may help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.8
A recent large meta-analysis found that people who consumed a variety of grape products had significant reductions in lipid profiles. This included reductions in total cholesterol, LDL, or “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels and they saw improvements in HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.9
The anthocyanins in grapes, which gives the grapes their gorgeous purple and red colors, also provide many health benefits:
- Support our brain health by reducing oxidative stress.
- Decrease inflammation and protect against plaque formation.
- May help improve insulin sensitivity.
- Relax blood vessels helping to support a healthy blood pressure.
- Have prebiotic activity in our gastrointestinal tract, helping to increase beneficial bacteria in our colon.10
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn more about why eating a </strong> <a href="/blog/fruits-vegetables-colors">variety of colorful fruits and vegetables</a> is important for health.</p>
Grapes and weight loss
Fruits are a great tool to help with weight loss because they are generally low in calories, high in fiber and packed with nutrients.. Plus, there are some other added benefits of grapes you may not know about!
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn more about </strong> <a href="/blog/how-eating-more-fiber-helps-weight-loss">fiber and weight loss</a>.</p>
How do Grapes Help With Weight Loss?
First, grapes have a high concentration of water which helps keep their calorie content on the lower side. With just over 100 calories and 2 grams of fiber in a cup of grapes, they are a great belly filler and can help keep your appetite at bay.
Another reason they are good for weight loss involves the polyphenol, resveratrol. While we are still trying to understand how it works, some studies are showing that resveratrol supplementation helps increase energy expenditure, decreases the use of stored muscle glycogen (carbohydrates) for energy, and instead uses our stored fat for energy.11
A recent meta-analysis that included 36 RCTs found that resveratrol supplementation significantly reduced body weight, BMI, and waist circumference and increased lean body mass.12
Can Eating Grapes Help with Belly Fat?
Lower abdominal fat is common, especially in women. You may be wondering, can eating grapes really help reduce belly fat? Well, if resveratrol is using our fat stores instead of carbohydrates, it might make sense that some of that fat would come from our mid-section.
But some new research suggests they may be due to another polyphenol in grapes called ellagic acid. This compound may help by slowing the growth of fat cells and boosting our metabolism.13
Much more research needs to be done to really understand how ellagic acid plays a role in the body, but the bottom line is that including grapes (and other fruits) in your diet can help support weight management.
What About Grapes and Blood Sugar?
With their relatively low glycemic index and glycemic load, grapes have been shown to have little impact on blood glucose levels.
Additionally, their antioxidant and phytochemical content seem to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can help reduce some of the complications associated with high blood glucose levels.
A recent study looked at the consumption of grape pomace (the skin, seeds, and stems left over after making wine.) The pomace is high in polyphenols, flavonoids, and fiber. The researchers made a seasoning blend from the pomace and monitored the effects on blood pressure and blood glucose levels in people who used it in their cooking. After 6 weeks of using the seasoning blend, the participants fasting blood glucose significantly decreased. They tested this in both healthy individuals and those who had a history of increased fasting glucose levels and saw improvements in both.14
In another systematic review, supplementation with resveratrol showed a significant reduction in fasting plasma glucose and improved insulin sensitivity with higher doses of the supplement.15
Are Some Grapes Better than Others for Weight Loss?
There isn’t a “better” grape for weight loss, just the type of grapes you like best!
All grapes contain fiber and have a similar calorie content. The main differences between the types of grapes are the amount of resveratrol and the antioxidant capacity. White or green grapes have fewer antioxidants and resveratrol, but all types of grapes are a good choice.
When is the Best Time of Day to Eat Grapes?
You can eat grapes at any time of the day. They are a great addition to breakfast as their fiber content will help fill you up. Additionally, because insulin sensitivity is greatest in the morning you may be better able to metabolize the sugar in them.
With their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce oxidative stress they are a great recovery snack. Especially after a high intensity workout, snacking on grapes can help with a faster recovery. With their high water content and low glycemic carbohydrate content they are perfect for replenish your fluid and glycogen stores.16, 17
While grapes contain natural sugars, keep in mind they fall lower on the GI scale, and including them with a mixed meal of protein, carbohydrates, and fats helps slow the uptake of sugar into the bloodstream.
You may want to try eating them with different meals and monitoring your response with your CGM. You'll get an idea of how eating them at different times of the day and with different foods affects you.
Are Grape Juice and Raisins also Good for Weight Loss?
While both grape juice and raisins are more concentrated in sugar and have a higher calorie level, both may still be helpful with weight loss and blood glucose control.
One study looked at the effects of dealcoholized muscadine grape juice on insulin. The study showed reductions in fasting insulin levels and improvements in their glucose to insulin ratios. This tells us that some components in the grape may help with insulin response and blood glucose levels.18
While raisins are high in sugar, the majority is coming from fructose (check the label for added sugars) which may not have as large an impact on insulin levels as other types of sugar. They are low on the glycemic index scale with a value of 49, largely due to their fiber content.
A small study found a serving or two of raisins for breakfast resulted in lower insulin levels following the meal.19
Be mindful of the portion sizes for both grape juice and raisins, and choose the unsweetened varieties when shopping.
A serving of unsweetened grape juice is just ½ cup, and has about 75 calories, 18 grams of sugar, and very little fiber. But it is full of antioxidants, including resveratrol, and provides about half your daily requirement for vitamin C.20
For raisins, the portion is even smaller. bout ¼ cup provides 120 calories and 2 grams of fiber. They are also a good source of potassium and iron.21
How to Eat Grapes if You're Trying to Lose Weight
Grapes are an easy fruit to add to any meal or snack. Try some of these easy ideas to add grapes to your routine.
- Freeze washed green grapes in resealable bags. Grab a handful when you are craving a sweet snack. Freezing them brings out a sweeter note when you bite into them.
- Add chopped grapes to a grain bowl for lunch. Fill a shallow bowl with quinoa, chopped baby kale, salmon, almonds, and some quartered grapes. Drizzle it with a citrus vinaigrette for an easy lunch.
- Mix chopped grapes into a chicken salad along with celery, onions, and chopped walnuts. The addition of the grapes adds moisture to your salad and may help cut back on the amount of mayonnaise or dressing you use.
- Mix a tablespoon of raisins into overnight oats along with chopped apples and a bit of peanut butter.
- Add frozen grapes to a smoothie in place of ice cubes for a cool, sweet, and juicy bite.
- Roasted grapes add a savory and sweet flavor to chicken, fish, or pork. Toss washed grapes with a little olive oil and rosemary and place them in a shallow pan. Place the pan in a preheated 425°F oven and roast for 15 - 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. They are ready when they begin to pop and become juicy. Spoon them over top roasted or grilled chicken, pork, or fish.
- Add grapes to fruit and cheese skewers for an easy appetizer.
- Freeze grape juice and a sprig of mint in individual compartments of an ice cube tray. Pop out a cube into a glass of sparkling water for a refreshing and flavorful afternoon drink.
Other fruits good for weight loss
Fruit is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and important for weight control as well as the reduced risk of many chronic diseases. Choose a variety of colorful fruits including berries, mangos, pineapple, watermelon, and more as part of any healthy weight loss program.
Experiment with eating different fruits and see how they affect you by monitoring your glucose response with your CGM.
<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn more about </strong> <a href="/blog/what-is-a-continuous-glucose-monitor">how CGMs work</a>.</p>
- Dreher, M. L., & Ford, N. A. (2020). A Comprehensive Critical Assessment of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake on Weight Loss in Women. Nutrients, 12(7), 1919. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071919
- Covington, L. “Types of Table Grapes.” The Spruce Eats. Accessed September 22, 2022. https://www.thespruceeats.com/types-of-grapes-5192789
- USDA, Food Data Central. Grapes, Green, Seedless, Raw. Accessed Sepetmber 22, 2022. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2263891/nutrients
- Mattioli, R., Francioso, A., Mosca, L., & Silva, P. (2020). Anthocyanins: A Comprehensive Review of Their Chemical Properties and Health Effects on Cardiovascular and Neurodegenerative Diseases. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 25(17), 3809. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25173809
- Caricilli, A. M., & Saad, M. J. (2013). The role of gut microbiota on insulin resistance. Nutrients, 5(3), 829–851. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu5030829
- Zhou, D. D., Luo, M., Huang, S. Y., Saimaiti, A., Shang, A., Gan, R. Y., & Li, H. B. (2021). Effects and Mechanisms of Resveratrol on Aging and Age-Related Diseases. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2021, 9932218. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/9932218
- Ferrières J. (2004). The French paradox: lessons for other countries. Heart (British Cardiac Society), 90(1), 107–111. https://doi.org/10.1136/heart.90.1.107
- Khadem-Ansari, M. H., Rasmi, Y., & Ramezani, F. (2009). Effects of Red Grape Juice Consumption on High Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol, Apolipoprotein AI, Apolipoprotein B and Homocysteine in Healthy Human Volunteers. The Open Biochemistry Journal, 4, 96-99. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874091X01004010096
- Lupoli, R., Ciciola, P., Costabile, G., Giacco, R., Minno, M., & Capaldo, B. (2020). Impact of Grape Products on Lipid Profile: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Studies. Journal of clinical medicine, 9(2), 313. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9020313
- Kan, J., Wu, F., Wang, F., Zheng, J., Cheng, J., Li, Y., Yang, Y., & Du, J. (2021). Phytonutrients: Sources, bioavailability, interaction with gut microbiota, and their impacts on human health. Frontiers in Nutrition, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.960309
- Springer, M., & Moco, S. (2019). Resveratrol and Its Human Metabolites-Effects on Metabolic Health and Obesity. Nutrients, 11(1), 143. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11010143
- Tabrizi, R., Tamtaji, O. R., Lankarani, K. B., Akbari, M., Dadgostar, E., Dabbaghmanesh, M. H., Kolahdooz, F., Shamshirian, A., Momen-Heravi, M., & Asemi, Z. (2020). The effects of resveratrol intake on weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 60(3), 375–390. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2018.1529654
- Kang, I., Buckner, T., Shay, N. F., Gu, L., & Chung, S. (2016). Improvements in Metabolic Health with Consumption of Ellagic Acid and Subsequent Conversion into Urolithins: Evidence and Mechanisms. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.), 7(5), 961–972. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.116.012575
- Taladrid, D., de Celis, M., Belda, I., Bartolome, B. & Moreno-Arribas, M.V. ( 2022). Hypertension and glycaemia lowering effects of a grape-pomace-derived seasoning in high cardiovascular risk and healthy subjects. Interplay with the gut microbiome. Food & Function. 13(4): 2068-2082. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1FO03942C
- Zhu, X., Wu, C., Qiu, S., Yuan, X., & Li, L. (2017). Effects of resveratrol on glucose control and insulin sensitivity in subjects with type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition & metabolism, 14, 60. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12986-017-0217-z
- Popkin, B.M., D'Anci, K.E., Rosenberg, I.H., (2010). Water, hydration, and health, Nutrition Reviews, 68(8):439–458, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
- Poole, C., Wilborn, C., Taylor, L., & Kerksick, C. (2010). The role of post-exercise nutrient administration on muscle protein synthesis and glycogen synthesis. Journal of sports science & medicine, 9(3), 354–363. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761704/
- Banini, A. E., Boyd, L. C., Allen, J. C., Allen, H. G., & Sauls, D. L. (2006). Muscadine grape products intake, diet and blood constituents of non-diabetic and type 2 diabetic subjects. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 22(11-12), 1137–1145. https://doi.org/10.1016
- Esfahani, A., Lam, J., & Kendall, C. W. (2014). Acute effects of raisin consumption on glucose and insulin reponses in healthy individuals. Journal of nutritional science, 3, e1. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2013.33
- USDA, Food Data Central. Grape Juice, Canned or Bottled, Unsweetened with Ascorbic Acid. Accessed, September 23,2022.
- USDA, Food Data Central. Raisins, Seeded. Accessed, September 23, 2022.