Posts Tagged ‘polyphenols’

Art Grotto
(That’s my almost 94-year-old dad enjoying one of his favorite purple beverages in moderation!)
David Grotto, RDN

I know you may be thinking that “seeing “red” was your only color choice when it comes to making smarter dietary choices to support heart health. Not so fast!

Though red is a wonderful color, there are more colors in the rainbow when it comes to doing what’s best for your ticker. Many of the foods that I recommend and feature in The Best Things You Can Eat for heart health actually come in red, white, tan, orange, green and even purple! Turning purple is a lot more fun and easier than holding your breath. That’s why I’m thrilled to be working with the folks at Welch’s to share the grape news about heart health.

Polyphenols are a group of plant nutrients that, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, may play a role in heart health by supporting healthy blood vessels. You’ll find polyphenols especially in purple variety foods such as grapes (think wine and 100% grape juice), cabbage, potatoes, eggplant and even non purple foods such as tea, onions and even nuts. In fact, berries (including grapes!) are a delicious way to get your daily dose of purple, and they deliver polyphenols (specifically anthocyanins) not found in many other colors of fruit.

Purple potatoes. This variety hails from South America and is rich in potassium, vitamin C in addition to polyphenols. By the way, leave the skin on. Like grapes, you’ll find polyphenols in the skins! Roast in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Yum!

Eggplant. Hard to believe that there was a time that this lovely vegetable was once thought to cause insanity and leprosy! Amazing! But the good news is you’ll find potassium, folate magnesium fiber and many other additional healthy nutrients in eggplant.

Purple Cabbage. Cabbage belongs to the family of veggies called Brassicas. This stinky but yummy veggie contains a healthy amount of fiber, vitamin C and anthocyanins. Glucosinolates, another group of plant nutrients found in cabbage, may help support a healthy immune system, too!

Wine. I see the debate brewing already. “Come on Dave … wine is not a food, it’s a beverage.” Well, hold onto your grapes of wrath! Red, purple, blue and black varieties of grapes are all used to make red wine. What distinguishes red versus white wine is that red varieties are allowed to have the skin and the seeds come in contact with the grape juice as it ferments. The health benefit may be due to a group of plant nutrients called polyphenols, which are abundant in red wine varieties. As with all alcoholic beverages, wine is beneficial for your health only in moderation.

Concord Grapes. And for those who are not wine lovers or choose not to drink alcoholic beverages, dark purple Concord grapes and 100% grape juice possess many of the same polyphenols as those found in red wine. Thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice helps support a healthy heart. An 8 ounce glass of Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes supplies 250 mg of polyphenols, provides an excellent source of vitamin C and counts as two servings of fruit.

Here’s a twist on the traditional tuna fish salad sandwich to include some tasty polyphenols and other healthy ingredients. Enjoy!

Grapes of Wrap
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes

¾ cup Purple grapes, quartered
2 cans Tuna or chicken, drained
½ cup Celery, chopped coarse
1/3 cup Purple/red Onion, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon Dill, chopped fine
¼ cup Canola oil mayonnaise
½ teaspoon Black pepper
2 teaspoons Honey
1 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Welch’s 100% Grape Juice concentrate (defrosted)
¼ teaspoon Toasted sesame oil (optional)
½ teaspoon Dry mustard powder
6 Whole-wheat tortillas

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread some of the salad on a whole-wheat tortilla. Garnish with lettuce and tomato, hold together with a toothpick and serve.

Nutrition Highlights
Calories: 195; Total Fat: 4.5g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 20mg; Sodium: 460mg; Total Carbs: 27g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 6g; Protein: 18g

Dear Guyatitian:

Thank you for your response about my husband’s health scare (boy, was it scary).  He is doing GREAT now and his liver enzyme numbers continue to trend in the right direction.  Wheat grass juice, lots of asparagus, avocado, spinach, broccoli, every kind of lettuce imaginable are very often on his plate (the wheat grass juice goes into a mug with green tea!).  I truly appreciate your very helpful response!

Now I’m writing about a friend’s daughter.  She was adopted from China as a baby and now, as a teen, is experiencing some rheumatological issues, one of which is Raynaud’s and the other could be Lupus.  Are there suggestions you might have for us this time, too??

Ohio Fan

Dear Ohio Fan:

I’m so thrilled that my advice helped your husband – sounds like you are on the right path!

I’m very sorry to hear about your friend’s daughter. Regarding what nutrition advice I can offer, I would suggest that your friend bring their daughter to see a registered dietitian who specializes in autoimmune and possibly connective tissue disorders. You can find a registered dietitian in their area by visiting With that being said, here are some dietary suggestions for considertaion as a launch point.

Raynaud’s is a disorder of small blood vessels that feed the skin. Quite often “attacks” can be triggered by cold exposure and stress. There are a variety of possible causes but to date, doctors are not fully aware of why Raynaud’s occurs. Raynaud’s is more common in woman than in men but the onset most often occurs later on in life –  in their 40’s or older.  But Raynaud’s can also arise as a secondary development to conditions such as scleroderma and/or lupus, for example. Medications are often prescribed that help dilate the blood vessels which improves circulation.

In my book, 101 Optimal Life Foods, I have a section on healing foods that may help promote circulation and improve cold feet and hands. These include foods that are rich in the amino acid arginine which helps produce nitric oxide – a vasodialator   – that promotes circulation. Those foods include:

  • Peanuts (unless allergic to them)
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Soybeans
  • Dairy products
  • Lean meat
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackeral
  • Chickpeas

I’m not sure what blood tests the teenager has had so far but I have found girls/women with iron deficiency often suffer from cold hands and feet. They may benefit from taking a good multi-vitamin with iron and concentrate on iron-rich foods such as:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Dried fruits
  • Red meat
  • Beans
  • Whole eggs
  • Dark leafy greens

Green tea, berries and chocolate contain plant nutrients called polyphenols that promote circulation, too. Lastly, an overall diet that is low in saturated and transfat also promotes blood flow and avoidng stress (rolls off the lips easily but not always easily done) and temperature extremes has been shown to keep Raynauds attacks at bay.

Good luck to your friend’s daughter – I wish her the best of health!

The Guyatitian