Grape juice is one of the two top-selling juices of all times (with apple juice). It’s in nearly all juices on the market today, it’s popular in wine making, and there are so many variations. There are so many things to do with it.
But, is it really healthy for you? We’re answering that question today.
Grape Juice Nutrition
When compared to soda, grape juice isn’t actually the healthier choice. Most grape juices have more sugar than a can of soda. When compared to tea and water, it falls far below health standards. The benefits of grape juice just aren't there.
The biggest problem with grape juice is the high amounts of sugar. While grapes and grape juice of all sorts have nutrients, the amount of sugar harms the body. At nearly 40g of sugar per 8oz glass, no medical or scientific authority recommends daily consumption.
It’s because of all this sugar and the mild taste that grape juice is added as a sweetener to nearly all other juices.
Grape juice is a good source of manganese, but not many other nutrients. There are traces of vitamin C, B-6, and calcium, but you could get those nutrients in higher quantities by adding a teaspoon of parsley to your food. Then, you avoid all the extra sugars.
The grape juice in the grocery stores is highly processed. Look at the labels. Most of them add preservatives and extra vitamin C. They have to because the processing destroys the natural vitamin C, as well as nearly all the other antioxidants.
If you can find minimally processed juice from organic growers, this is better. Usually, it comes in concentrates that are frozen, rather than bottled juice. We recommend seeking organic juice * because grape growers rely heavily on pesticides to keep their sprawling monoculture farm's pest free.
As for resveratrol – yes, some grape juice has resveratrol. In a 1999 study in the journal Circulation, researchers at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison used a tiny sample of 15 people for grape juice research. They found after just 14 days, LDL cholesterol and blood clots were reduced. The arteries cleared.
The results have never been duplicated. The study is dismissed by the medical community for several reasons: no control group, too small of a test group, too short in time, no follow-up.
Many researchers believe that it was the rest of the healthy diet these people were placed on and the nearly doubled amount of water they were ingesting that actually reduced the numbers, not the grape juice. We too find this well-publicized study to be missing too much data to be worth anything.
Many of the other health benefits cited for grape juice are based on hearsay, unpublished findings (another term for unchecked or non-verified), or based on wine testing.
Wine has been well researched with the proper studies.
But, before we go into wine, we need to clarify there is a difference between the grapes used for wine and for eating.
Type of Grapes
These are the type you find in the grocery stores. They are the sweetest grapes with the firmest flesh. They are bred to be tasty and seed free.
They do not have much juice. They are poor choices for juicing or making wine. There are very few nutrients in these grapes. Being bred to be seed free and easily transportable, they lost many of the nutrients that make grapes healthy. Also, they are often picked early, before most of the antioxidants develop, in order to be transported. That’s why many of these grapes are hard.
These grapes are bred to be juicy and plump. They are usually not the tastiest, being slightly bitterer in flavor. There is a quick shot of intense sweetness from the easily accessible sugars.
While you could eat these grapes, they tend to fall flat. You could make wine from these grapes or grape juice, but it ends up weak and flavorful.
These grapes have a bit more nutrition. They are bred for specific tastes and juice content. Since many of the flavonoids and resveratrols are exceptionally bitter and astringent flavors, they were bred out.
One of the reasons for the lack of nutrients in grape juice is that the skins of the grapes are removed before processing. Most of the nutrients are in the skins.
There are particular types of grapes used in wine making. They were bred to be rich in flavors, high in sugar, and deeply colored (read high in nutrients). When you eat a wine grape, you get many varied flavors, very rich flavors. There is often a bitter component and they have a pucker factor. If you eat more than a few, your mouth feels dry.
Since nutrients make color, the dark rich colors of wine grapes, both red and white, mean that wine grapes have the most health benefits. They are smaller than other cultivated grapes, and have large seeds.
The skins are used to make red wine, but not white wine. That’s why all the research shows the darker the red wine, the healthier it is.
Unfortunately, unless you live near a winery or grow your own, your chances of purchasing these grapes is greatly diminished.
These grapes are closest in nutrition to wine grapes. They are often smaller than even the wine grapes and have many varied flavors. They are often dark in color, and highly nutritious. You must use extreme caution when picking wild grapes. There are berries that look similar to wild grapes that are highly poisonous.
How Much Grape Juice to Drink Daily?
Most doctors say you should not drink grape juice daily. It’s too high in sugars. As on occasional treat, though, it’s just fine. It’s recommended to not have more than 8oz at time, which delivers a whopping ¼ cup of sugar per glass.
According to WHFoods, one of the most respected websites devoted to disseminating nutritional information, in order to achieve the health benefits of grape juice, you would need to consume 3 glasses per day. However, they are also quick to note that this amount of sugars from grapes would also lead to Type 2 Diabetes and issues with constipation.
Wine is recommended to not be consumed at more than 4 oz per day.
Type of Grape Juice
Wondering which grape juice is the healthiest? The answer may surprise you, since there isn’t a clear cut winner.
White Grape Juice
This is the tastiest grape juice, but also the one with the most sugar. It’s most popular to add to other juices.
Red Grape Juice
Red grape juice is becoming more popular, as people believe that they can get the health benefits of grapes from a processed juice. It’s a bit more bitter and not as sweet. Most of the time, it is also more expensive.
Wine is easily found in most areas. Nearly all people live within a liquor store or place that sells alcohol. Finding a good quality wine is as easy as shopping at the store.
The darker the red wine, the healthier it is. The vast amounts of resveratrol and flavonoids are found in this wine. The majority of grape research has been done on red wines.
Now, quality is determined by the winery. Each wine will taste different, so it’s just a matter of finding the one you like.
Some people are allergic or sensitive to the sulfites used in wine making. Nearly every winery uses them because it is cost effective and nearly fool-proof for stopping contamination. However, there are a few wineries that have opted for using other materials and produce sulfite-free wine.
There are also a few wineries that produce alcohol-less wine. It’s real wine that has had the alcohol removed. Usually, this is a more expensive wine, but for people with an alcohol issue, it’s is an option.
The Best Grape Juice for You
So, it comes down to what the best grape actually is. The medical answer is wine. For those who don’t want that, we recommend not using grape juice daily, only as an occasional treat.
How to Make Grape Juice
Grape juice isn’t an easy undertaking, or a cheap one. This recipe produces about ¾ of a gallon or just under 7 liters.
- 25 pounds of flavorful grape – wine preferably
- Note: grocery store grapes produce a nearly tasteless juice
- Wash grapes thoroughly.
- Mash grapes with potato masher or by hand (this hard step is why wineries used large tubs and foot power).
- Place well crushed grape mash and juice in large pot. Heat to boiling, then simmer for 10 minutes. This step kills many bacteria that would contaminate the juice.
- Strain the juice from the pulp and skins.
- Refrigerate juice. If you find it too cloudy, allow particles to settle for 24-48 hours, then decant the clear juice.
How to Make Homemade Wine from Grape Juice
Wine from grapes is one of the easiest ways to get the nutrients. It takes a bit of time (about 2 years), but you could enjoy your own homemade wine. This recipe makes 1 gallon of wine, or about 4 bottles.
- 6 pounds fresh Concord grapes
- 5 pints water
- 3-1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme
- 1 crushed Campden tablet
- 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
- wine yeast
- Wash and de-stem grapes, discard any less than perfect ones.
- Put in nylon mesh bag, tie securely, and vigorously crush grapes in primary fermenter.
- Add water, sugar, nutrient, and crushed Campden tablet. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover securely with clean cloth and set aside.
- After 12 hours add pectin enzyme and recover.
- Add yeast.
- Stir daily, squeeze the nylon bag to aid in juice extraction.
- After 1 week, remove grapes and bag, gently squeezing out any excess juice.
- Siphon liquor off sediments into sterilized demijohn and attach airlock.
- Crack into clean demijohn and reattach airlock every 30 days until vigorous fermentation stops.
- Bottle, and allow to age one to two years in bottle before tasting. Improves further with additional aging.
How to Make Sparkling Grape Juice
This is the easiest recipe here.
- Grape juice
- Sparkling water or club soda
- Mix equal amounts of juice and sparkling water.
- Refrigerate to chill. Serve chilled.
Grape Juice & Your Health
People have tried to use grape juice for many reasons. However, unlike many other juices, there just isn’t that many health benefits.
Grape Juice for Migraines
Some people have experienced headache relief by drinking grape juice. The internet is full of stories about it. Unfortunately, the websites that promote it usually are stringing together weak evidence.
They cite that B6 and vitamin C are well studied to relieve headaches and migraines. This is true. It’s also true that grape juice has these nutrients. It’s not true that you can drink enough to relieve a headache.
What happens for most people is that a drop in sugar causes the head to ache. It also causes a sugar craving and possibly shaking. Drinking grape juice, with its high sugar content, gives the person an instantaneous boost of sugar. This stops the symptoms, including a headache. Any high sugar food or drink would have done this.
There is a small study that was done on grapes to prevent headaches. It succeeded, however was considered ill-advised because the participants had an unsafe rise in the blood sugars, which could have led to diabetes.
On the other side, wine is often a cause of migraines, or rather, the sulfites are. People who are sensitive to sulfites will have blood vessel dilation problems triggered by it. Also, the tannins cause headaches, although doctors are unsure why.
Finally, the shear alcohol content triggers some people to headaches and migraines. These people are also triggered by beer and liquor. Of course, if you drink too much, you’ll get a hangover.
Grape Juice & The Stomach Flu
There’s a great story about how drinking 3 cups of grape juice per day can ward off the stomach flu. People swear by it and it is everywhere.
The problem is there is no source and no scientific study about it. There is nothing but stories made by ‘people’ who can’t be tracked down.
The reason for not having any studies is because it makes no sense. There is nothing in grapes or grape juice that provides specific protection against the stomach flu.
There are so few nutrients in grape juice, even doctor caution against giving it to people with diarrhea or the inability to eat. The sugar content is too high to be an effective hydrating drink.
If you do dig into WebMD, you will actually find doctors advise against this practice. First, 3 cups of grape juice is more sugar than any person should have in total day. Second, it is not an effective preventative. Third, it could cause digestive problems.
Wine is similarly warned against. It will not help prevent a stomach bug. And if you already have it, any alcohol is bad news for the body.
Grape Juice & Heart Burn
Here too, there are no studies to support or deny grape juice will help or hurt. Most doctors do not believe that grape juice causes or cures heart burn. Various trials have shown virtually no reaction in various people.
That’s because grape juice is nearly all water and sugar.
For many people, you’ll find sugary foods are well tolerated because they are easily broken down and don’t trouble the stomach.
Wine, on the other hand, can cause heart burn. Use caution if you experience heart burn and want to add wine to your health regime.
One thing that has been shown to help, a study was conducted on aloe vera extract. The extract was placed in grape juice to allow the sugary taste to overwhelm the bitterness of the aloe. This study on aloe was replicated using various juices and supplements, so we know it was the aloe that helped people and not the grape juice.
Grape Juice for Anemia
The USDA's Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory produced a study published by the American Cancer Society showing that the antioxidants in raw grapes and grape juice can cause the body to block the uptake of iron in the digestive system. Dark grape juice reduced iron availability by
Tannins, which are especially high in red wine, also block iron absorption. Anemia patients are recommended to avoid all grape products, including wine.
Grape Juice & Diabetes
Grape juice is not recommended at all for diabetics. It is far too high in sugar to be considered safe to drink.
A 2010 study in the Journal of Diabetes showed that drinking any juice causes increased blood sugar fluctuations. Grape juice was listed as the second worst juice to drink, behind boxed juice drinks with added sugar. Apple juice, a distant third had half the effect.
Wine can be used in moderation, especially dry wines. The wine has a much lower sugar concentration and a higher nutrient concentration. Still, diabetics are recommended to limit their wine consumption.
Grape Juice for UTI
A well-publicized story from Rutgers University showed that commercial grape juice has the same phytonutrient components as commercial cranberry juice.
Excellent, until you realize commercial cranberry juice has been concluded as ineffective against UTIs because of the processing. Only unprocessed and 100% whole cranberry juice is effective.
There are currently no studies that show grape juice protects against UTI.
On the other hand, increasing the sugars in the body increase the pH of the urine, making it easier for harmful bacteria to breed in the urethra.
Wine helps lower the pH of the urine. It also helps your gut bacteria, which can aid your liver and kidneys in their ability to remove toxins. While a full discussion is beyond this report, a detoxed kidney fights infections easier.
Grape Juice for Diarrhea & Grape Juice for Constipation
Grape juice is well known for causing loose bowels. It is a very effective laxative. Doctors suggest drinking 2 glasses of grape juice to help relieve constipation. (remember the 3 glasses per day from the stomach flu myth – listen to the doctors)
It is not recommended to drink grape juice on a regular basis for constipation issues. The sugars are too high and could cause diabetes.
Can grape juice cause green stool? Yup, but it’s not always a bad thing. If you think grape juice caused the color change, stop drinking grape juice. If that doesn’t help, a trip to the doctor may be needed.
Grape Juice While Pregnant
Due to risk of gestational diabetes, grape juice is not recommended for pregnant women. While it won’t harm the woman or the baby, the risk of sugar problems is too high.
Gestational diabetes is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the woman, and juvenile diabetes in the child.
Grape Juice and Infants
Grape juice is not recommended for infants. The sugar content is too high and could lead to early onset diabetes. One halted study cited by pediatrics association for another reason had 3-5 year old children given 3 oz of grape juice per day. The study was stopped when the incidence of diabetes emerged at nearly 4 times the national average.
Sugary drinks can also cause a craving for sugary foods, leading to obesity and eating disorders in the future.
And we hope you are not giving infants wine.
Grape Juice & Your Pets – Not a Good Combo
Grape juice is too high in sugars for pets. Cats have poor sugar control to begin with and risk kidney problems if exposed to the juice. Grapes, raisins and grape juice are considered toxic to dogs because it causes kidney failure. Birds and reptiles are not as affected, but veterinarians still warn against giving grape juice to these animals as well.
Getting Out Grape Juice Stains
Some grape juice stains, some grape juice gets out stains.
White grape juice is very effective in getting red grape juice, wine, and other dark color stains out of fabric. Blotting with a cheap white grape juice is often recommended.
If you don’t have white grape juice, a bit of dish detergent on a rag, gently wiping helps removes stains.
Grape juice is a very sugary drink. It has few nutrients and even less health benefit. We don’t recommend drinking grape juice too often.
Wine could be part of a healthy routine. A small amount of wine helps many problems. Consult your doctor before drinking alcohol to make sure you don’t have any negative interactions.