Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatory Agents
Many of the phytonutrients present in the muscadine grape have been recognized as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents – the most powerful of these concentrated in the skins and seeds.
Antioxidants are important because they rid the body of free radicals that damage our cells. Free radicals are caused by exposure to radiation, tobacco smoke, pollutants, solvents and even intense exercise. Damage to DNA can also occur which can cause cell mutations resulting in cancer. Free radicals are of interest to the scientific and medical community because there is strong evidence relating them to aging and disease processes, e.g. cancer, atherosclerosis, immune system decline, brain dysfunction, cataracts, birth defects, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Chrohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Free radical production is controlled by several factors including antioxidants consumed as part of the diet. Some foods and supplements have higher antioxidant capacity than others, as was outlined above. The muscadine grape has over twice the antioxidant power as the blueberry based on the USDA and Tufts University’s Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) standard measurement.
Antioxidants can help prevent the initiation, propagation and termination of free radicals. Muscadine grapes and the antioxidants present in this grape have been studied as powerful antioxidants. Some of the most notable phytonutrients studied as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents found in the muscadine grape include but are not limited to:
- Ellagic Acid
- Gallic Acid
- Pectin (a dietary fiber)
- Vitamin C
- Caffeic Acid
- OPCs Oligomeric Procyanidins
These phytonutrients are well-known in the scientific and health care professional community for their beneficial effects. Many have been studied as effective antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. While a high ORAC value is important, “many scientists think that the disease-fighting benefits of fruits and berries is not just due to their ability to provide antioxidant protection. It is also very likely that phenolic compounds like resveratrol and quercetin produce specific responses such as reducing inflammation and improving health of the heart and other organs” Ellagic acid is another phenolic found in the muscadine grape in measurable amount and has been closely link to anti-aging activities.
Muscadines are technically in the berry family and provide the beneficial phytonutrients associated with the purple to red range of fruits.
According to the FDA, a food that has at least 0.6 grams of soluble fiber per serving without fortification can make the following claim: Low fat diets rich in fiber may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, and may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of muscadine grapes clearly qualifies for this claim. This is one key reason muscadine based products are thought to lower cholesterol.