Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Welch’s
Purple is one of my favorite colors. I wear purple clothes, I dress my girls in purple, even my bridesmaids wore purple to my wedding! And when it comes to purple foods, I enjoy almost all of them. You may not realize how much produce falls into the purple/blue category: blueberries and blackberries, plums and dried plums (aka prunes), grapes and raisins, eggplant, and purple cabbage. But despite the plethora of purple and blue fruits and vegetables, they only account for 3 percent of total fruit and vegetable intake, which is a shame because they provide plant nutrients, called polyphenols, that cannot be found in many other colors of produce.
Perhaps the low intake of these fruits and vegetables is due to their limited availability throughout the year. Although dried fruit is available year-round, berries are a summer fruit, eggplant is at its peak end of summer and early fall, and table grapes are in season between May and January. Luckily, there is one way we can get the benefits of purple foods all year: 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes.
Concord grapes are native to North America and are named for their birthplace, Concord, Massachusetts. You won’t find Concord grapes at most supermarkets, and when you do, it will be for only a short period of time. That’s because Concord grapes are only harvested once a year and the harvest season lasts only a few weeks in the fall. While you can cook with fresh Concord grapes, most of the harvested Concord grapes are turned into grape juice so that consumers can enjoy their bold, distinctive, and delicious taste and nutritional benefits all year round.
Certain brands of 100% grape juice are made by crushing the whole Concord grape – including the skin and seeds. The vibrant color of Concord grapes is due to polyphenols, plant nutrients that help promote overall health, and research has suggested that thanks to the Concord grape, 100% grape juice can support a healthy heart.
I always recommend whole fruit before juice, and that’s because liquid calories can add up fast. One cup (8 ounces) of 100% grape juice contains about 140 calories – and most people don’t stop there when they drink juice. That said, 4 ounces – half a cup – of 100% grape juice is all you need to get the health benefits.
A few things to keep in mind when it comes to juice:
- Unless the package also states “100% juice,” it is not 100% juice.
- The sugar grams on the Nutrition Facts Panel of 100% juice may be surprising. Just keep in mind this is the natural fruit sugar from the fruit itself, not added sugar.
- The majority of the scientific evidence suggests that there is no association between consumption of 100% fruit juice and obesity in healthy adults and children.
- As the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee stated: “When consumed in moderation as part of a nutrient-rich, energy-balanced diet, 100% juice can be a healthy part of a child’s diet.”
- When consumed as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, 100% fruit juice is a convenient, nutritious and delicious way to get more fruit. As always, the key is moderation!
And remember – to get the benefits of 100% grape juice, you don’t just have to drink it. You can cook with it too! Here are some Nutritioulicious recipes using 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes from my colleague Robin Plotkin, RD, LD over at RobinsBite:
Photo Credits: Welch’s