What Is It About The Muscadine Grape That Makes It One Of The Most Powerful Foods On The Planet? 

   

 
 

The muscadine grape is a powerhouse of natural phytochemicals.  Muscadines have been domestically cultivated since Colonial times.  The book "Muscadine Medicine" says that "Muscadines are more American than apple pie because they were growing before Johnny Appleseed came around."  Muscadines are one of four primary grape species that are cultivated in the United States.  European vinifera grapes are most commonly cultivated in California vineyards.  French hybrids are crosses of European and American labrusca grapes, which are native to the colder regions of the eastern U.S.  While other grapes can’t take the heat and humidity, muscadine grapes flourish in the hot and humid climate of their native southeastern United States.  They grow naturally from Delaware down to Florida and across the southeast to Texas, and as far north as southern Illinois.

Muscadine grapes have two color types, black and bronze, with many variations from those two colors:  black varieties include grapes that are pink, red, and purple in color, and bronze varieties come in shades of yellow, green, and tan.  Many wild varieties stay green through maturity.  They ripen between mid September to late October.  Compared to table grapes that grow in pendulous bunches and ripen all at once, muscadines grow in loose clusters and mature one at a time.  A mature vine can yield approximately twenty pounds of fruit.  The muscadine nickname "Scuppernong" originally referred to the bronze type grape, but over time scuppernong became commonly used to represent all the varieties.  Muscadines have skin sufficiently tough that eating the raw fruit often involves biting a small hole in the skin to suck out the pulp inside.  Muscadines need fewer chilling hours than better known grapes.  Muscadines have superior pest and disease resistance over other varieties, making their rootstock the preferred choice for many grafted grapevines.

Muscadines are not only eaten fresh, but also are used in making wine, juice, and jelly.  Current commercial vineyards were initiated in the 1970s, and in the last 3 decades have seen dramatic growth.  According to "Muscadine Medicine," more vineyards are being planted yearly "because of the success of this fruit in traditional cotton/tobacco lands that were hard hit by the boll weevil and anti-tobacco legislation."  The largest concentrations of muscadine growers are in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, North Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, East Texas, and Arkansas.  Muscadine grapes are rich sources of polyphenols and other nutrients studied for their potent health benefits.  Muscadines have an extra pair of chromosomes beyond what traditional grapes have.  This extra set of chromosomes is one reason muscadines are known as "super grapes" in research labs.  Ellagic acid, found in muscadines but not in other grapes, may be due to the extra chromosome count.  Ellagic acid has been shown in numerous clinical studies to play a key role in the inhibition of cancer cell growth.  This unique grape has seen an explosion of clinical research on it over the last decade, showing significant preventive effects in the laboratory.

While muscadines contains a range of vitamins, oils, fiber, sugars and proteins (such as Vitamin C and pectin (a dietary  fiber, for starters) that are nutritious, the greater value of the muscadine to the nutraceutical industry is in the phenolic fraction.  By today's current food standards, only vitamin C is classified as "essential," but the new-found value of antioxidants is becoming more and more conspicuous.  Up until 1998, there were a only a handful of new reference studies on muscadines each year, but by 2004 there were hundreds of published scientific papers.  Now there are more than 100 new papers annually, and that number grows each year.  The "Muscadine Medicine" book says, "Several analytical studies on muscadines reveal a profile of potent phytochemicals.  The phenolic fraction alone will contain [numerous] phytochemicals, all of which have medicinal value.  While the muscadine literature is growing, it is still very small.  In comparison, the number of biomedical papers that have been  written on the phytochemicals in muscadines is enormous and very supportive of the nutraceutical power of this smarter grape."

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Any products or substances mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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