2018 California Table Grape Season Under way

Table Grapes are Versatile And Healthy

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

California table grapes are now being harvested. Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission told California Ag Today that fresh grapes are now available in local stores.

“California table grape growers began picking a couple of weeks ago, and consumers should be able to find California grapes in their stores today. And certainly, as the season progresses, grapes will be more and more available,” Nave said.

Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president
Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission president

Consumers should be buying grapes for the taste as well as good health.

“Grapes contain about 1600 different phytonutrients—all kinds of things that are really good for us, and many important vitamins. There’s something magical in grapes that appears to have a lot of potential health benefits.”

Nave said she tells people that they need to be eating grapes basically every day because there’s something really good for us in the combination of things that are in grapes, and that’s grapes of all colors: red, green and black.

“They definitely taste great. Kids love them. So you know, they’re a healthy snack. They look beautiful when you add them to things like salads or you know, even pizza. You can even roast them. So they’re amazingly versatile and then they’re so good for us,” Nave said.

There are about 450 table grape operations in the state, from Southern California to Madera.

“There are vineyards in the Coachella Valley. We have long had a group of growers growing grapes in the desert,” Nave said. “Those are the earliest grapes that are available and are found in stores now, And then of course in the San Joaquin Valley, we have table grape growers from the Tehachapi Mounts North into the Madera area.”

Grape Consumption May Offer Benefits for Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis

New research presented this week at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego, California, suggests that regular grape consumption may help alleviate pain associated with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee, and improve joint flexibility and overall mobility.

Researchers attribute these potential benefits to the polyphenols found in grapes.

The sixteen week clinical study, undertaken by Texas Woman’s University, was designed to investigate the benefits of grape consumption on inflammation and osteoarthritis outcomes.

72 men and women with knee osteoarthritis (OA) were assigned to either consume grapes in the form of a whole grape freeze-dried powder, or a placebo powder.

The study results, presented by lead investigator Shanil Juma, Ph.D., showed that both men and women consuming a grape-enriched diet had a significant decrease in self- reported pain related to activity and an overall decrease in total knee symptoms.

This beneficial effect was more pronounced in females. Additionally, age-related differences were observed: there was a 70% increase in very hard activity for those under 64 years of age consuming the grape powder, while those receiving the placebo reported a significant decrease in very hard activity.

Participants over 65 years, whether consuming grapes or the placebo, reported a decline in moderate to hard activities.

Evidence of increased cartilage metabolism was observed in men consuming the grape- enriched diet; they had higher levels of an important cartilage growth factor (IGF-1) than those on placebo. This protective effect was not observed in the females. The researchers noted that no difference in range of motion was observed for either the grape group or the placebo group.

The serum marker for inflammation (IL1-β) measured was increased in both placebo and grape groups, although much less of an increase was observed in the grape group.

“These findings provide promising data that links grape consumption to two very important outcomes for those living with knee osteoarthritis: reduced pain and improvements in joint flexibility,” said Dr. Juma. “More research is needed to betterunderstand the results of the serum biomarkers, as well as the age and gender differences observed.”

Dr. Juma also shared results from a recent cell study that looked at the effects of whole grape polyphenols on cartilage cell integrity and markers of cartilage health.

Cartilage cells were first treated with various doses of whole grape polyphenols, and then stimulated with an inflammatory agent. Cell proliferation significantly increased – in a dose dependent manner – in the grape polyphenol treated cells in the presence of an inflammatory agent.

Additionally a marker for cartilage degradation was significantly lower with the three highest doses of the whole grape polyphenols when compared to control cells and cells treated with the inflammatory agent, suggesting a possible protective effect of grapes on cartilage cells.

Osteoarthritis is a condition where the natural cushioning between joints – the cartilage – wears away. Millions of Americans are affected by osteoarthritis: according to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 27 million people have osteoarthritis and knees are an area most commonly affected. Osteoarthritis is more likely to occur in people over 45 years of age, and women are more likely to have osteoarthritis than men.

The Experimental Biology conference is a multidisciplinary, scientific meeting focused on research and life sciences, covering general fields of study such as anatomy, biochemistry, nutrition, pathology and pharmacology. The conference is comprised of nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors.