Nutrients, Benefits, Downsides & More

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Grape juice is a beverage known for its vibrant color and sweet, slightly tart flavor.

Many people consider it a healthy alternative to sugary beverages, like soda. In fact, according to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 100% fruit juice can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet (1).

However, due to its content of sugar and calories, you may wonder if grape juice is as healthy as fresh fruit.

This article explores the nutritional content, benefits, and downsides of grape juice, so you can learn if it’s good for you.

There are several types of grape juice. They differ in nutritional content and which specific grapes they’re made from.

Purple grape juice is the most commonly available commercial variety. It features a dark color and is usually made from Concord grapes.

You can also purchase white grape juice, which is made from green-skinned grapes and boasts a slightly sweeter taste.

Some grape juice is labeled as 100% juice, meaning that all the ingredients are extracted from fruits or vegetables (2).

Other varieties are labeled as juice from concentrate. That means that most of the water has been removed, resulting in a more concentrated product (2).

Grape juice is also featured in many juice cocktails, some of which contain a blend of several types of fruit.

Grape juice may be sweetened or unsweetened. Sweetened grape juice contains added sugars, like high fructose corn syrup. Added sugar can be found listed on the ingredients label.

Summary

There are several types of grape juice available. They differ depending on whether they’re sweetened, the types of grapes used, and whether they’re made from concentrate, a blend of fruits, or 100% fruit juice.

Though grape juice is high in carbs and natural sugar, it’s also a good source of several nutrients, including vitamin C and manganese.

One cup (237 mL) of unsweetened purple grape juice contains the following nutrients (3):

  • Calories: 152
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Carbs: 37.4 grams
  • Fiber: 0.5 grams
  • Vitamin C: 70% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Manganese: 26% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 6% of the DV
  • Potassium: 6% of the DV
  • Copper: 5% of the DV

Many types of grape juice contain added ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C. This nutrient is essential for immune function and skin health (4).

Grape juice is also rich in manganese, a mineral involved in bone formation and the production of certain neurotransmitters in your brain (5).

What’s more, grape juice contains several flavonoids and polyphenols. These are plant compounds that act as antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress and inflammation (6).

Summary

Grape juice is high in carbs, but it also contains a good amount of vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants in each serving.

Grape juice has been associated with several health benefits. For example, it may promote the health of your heart, immune system, and digestive tract.

Enhances heart health

Thanks to its content of antioxidant compounds, several studies have found that grape juice could support heart health.

According to one review, the flavonoids found in Concord grape juice could help lower several risk factors for heart disease, including (7):

  • inflammation
  • plaque build-up in the arteries
  • platelet aggregation
  • cholesterol and triglyceride levels

In a small study with 25 women, drinking white grape juice daily for 30 days increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol by 16% and decreased belly fat (8).

Similarly, a review reported that grape products, including grape juice, could significantly improve levels of total, LDL (bad), and HDL (good) cholesterol compared with a control. As such, it might help protect against heart disease (9).

Still, more high quality research is needed to better understand the juice’s effects on heart health.

Promotes immune function

Many varieties of grape juice are enriched with the micronutrient vitamin C.

Vitamin C can enhance immune function by reducing oxidative stress and supporting the function of your immune cells (10).

Getting enough vitamin C in your daily diet may reduce your susceptibility to illness and infection, including respiratory infections, like the common cold (10, 11).

Grape juice is also a great source of antioxidants, like resveratrol, a compound that can reduce inflammation and regulate immune cells (12).

Supports digestive health

Some research has found that grape juice might support the health of your digestive system.

For instance, a recent study showed that taking a grape powder supplement — equivalent to about 3.4 ounces (100 mL) of grape juice — could increase the diversity of your beneficial gut microbiome to promote digestive health (13, 14).

Several studies in animals have found similar results, noting that certain compounds and polyphenols extracted from grapes and grape juice could support the health of the gut microbiome (15, 16).

Some types of grape juice also contain a small amount of fiber, with around 0.5 grams per cup (237 mL) (3).

Although this is much less than the amount found in whole grapes, it can help you meet your daily needs for fiber, an essential nutrient that promotes regularity and digestive health (17, 18).

Summary

Some studies show that grape juice and its components could improve heart health, promote immune function, and support digestive health.

Though grape juice can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet, there are a few downsides to consider.

May increase blood sugar levels

Grape juice contains a high amount of natural sugars. Even unsweetened varieties pack 36 grams into each 1-cup (237-mL) serving (3).

Compared with whole fruits, fruit juice is also lower in fiber. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream to stabilize blood sugar levels (17, 18).

Several types are also sweetened with high amounts of added sugar. Studies show that increased intake of sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and impaired blood sugar control (19, 20, 21).

That said, unsweetened varieties may not have the same effects. Some studies show that drinking 100% fruit juice isn’t associated with higher blood sugar levels or an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (22, 23).

Could contribute to weight gain

Grape juice is low in fiber, meaning that it doesn’t increase feelings of fullness to the same extent as whole fruits (3, 24).

Studies show that liquids are less filling than solid foods. So, you might feel more hungry after drinking a glass of grape juice compared with eating fresh grapes (25, 26).

Sugar-sweetened beverages, such as grape juice with added sugar, have also been linked to a higher risk of weight gain, overweight, and obesity among children and adults (27, 28, 29, 30).

Additionally, some types of sweetened grape juice are high in calories and can contribute to weight gain if consumed in high amounts and if you don’t make other adjustments to your diet (31).

Summary

Grape juice is low in fiber and some types contain added sugar, which could negatively impact blood sugar control. Certain varieties may also contribute to weight gain, especially if you don’t make other adjustments to your diet.

Grape juice is a good source of several important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and can fit into a healthy, well-rounded diet.

Be sure to keep your intake moderate. While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting your intake to 4–10 ounces (118–296 mL) per day, other research shows that drinking 3.4–5 ounces (100–150 mL) per day may offer the most health benefits (1, 32).

Ideally, choose unsweetened varieties made with 100% grape juice and steer clear of brands that contain added sugar like high fructose corn syrup.

Alternatively, opt for whole grapes instead. These contain the same beneficial nutrients as grape juice, along with a higher amount of fiber to support healthy blood sugar levels (17).

Summary

Grape juice can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Stick to unsweetened varieties made with 100% grape juice or opt for whole, fiber-rich grapes instead.

Grape juice is a good source of several important nutrients, including vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants.

It’s also linked to several health benefits. For example, it may support heart health, immune function, and digestive health.

However, it’s also high in sugar and has less fiber than whole fruits. It could increase blood sugar levels or contribute to weight gain if consumed in large amounts.

Therefore, it’s best to stick to a moderate intake and select unsweetened varieties made with 100% grape juice whenever possible.

Alternatively, choose whole fruits instead to increase your fiber intake and take advantage of the many health benefits that grapes have to offer.

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