Published on July 17th, 2014 | by Aisha Abdelhamid3
Glorious Grapes and Their Heavenly and Earthly Benefits
The Glorious Grape, known to Muslims as one of the divine foods found in Heaven, is enjoyed for its sweet, cool, juicy taste. But the benefits of the grape extend beyond our sensory delights. They provide amazing health benefits. Perhaps that is why they were one of the original fruits given to us in the Garden of Eden.
Today, environmentalists often talk of recycling to reduce waste and reuse materials. In fact, there are even materials in grapes — seeds, stems, and skins — that can be put to a secondary use after the grapes are pressed and squeezed for their juice. Instead of thinking of re-cycling the Glorious Grape, which connotes a down-graded version of the original, maybe we should think of up-cycling the fruit. With all its benefits — both spiritual and physical — it seems that the many uses of grapes will only get better with more use.
The Greater Recycling Cycles Back To Heaven
From our Creator we came and to Him we shall return is a common belief maintained by many faiths. Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike agree on this primary principle of recycling. The Garden of Eden was our original heavenly abode, then God “downcycled” a version of it for us here on Earth:
“Then We brought forth for you therewith
gardens of date palms and grapes,
wherein is much fruit for you,
and whereof you eat.”
However, the original Garden is still there, awaiting our final “upcycling” should we be among the fortunate dwellers of that excellent destination, God willing! In the Quran we read of grapes, among other wonderful things to be enjoyed in that original Garden of Eden:
“Therefore Allah hath warded off from them
the evil of that day,
and hath made them find brightness and joy
And hath awarded them
for all that they endured,
a Garden and silk attire;
Reclining therein upon couches,
they will find there
neither (heat of) a sun nor bitter cold.
The shade thereof is close upon them
and the clustered fruits thereof bow down.
“Indeed for the righteous there is attainment,
gardens and grapevines”
With a history stretching all the way back to the Garden of Eden, it’s no surprise how beloved the grape is. Those people who eat grapes are famously known to have health advantages over people who don’t, and scientific researchers have long been studying grapes to figure out why.
The Huge Health Benefits of Grapes
Grapes are widely popular, probably because they are sweeter than most fruit. They contain vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Grape juice, concentrated or diluted, is a strong antiseptic and is very useful for cleaning skin infections, the ears, nose, mouth, and throat. It helps purify our blood from toxins, wastes, fungi, viruses, and other germs that carry diseases. Grapes strengthen our immune systems and they help our bodies rebuild damaged cells.
Undiluted grape juice is a popular home remedy for migraines, taken early in the morning on an empty stomach. Grapes can relieve indigestion and chronic constipation, and cure gout related diseases like arthrolithiasis, rheumatic diseases, and Bilharziosis (schistosomiasis). They assist the kidneys by reducing the acidity of the uric acid and help eliminate acid from the system. However, after many years of careful research, scientists finally identified the chemical compound responsible for great additional benefit, and called it “resveratrol.”
What Is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a molecule found in dark-colored grapes associated with reducing cataracts, “bad cholesterol,” heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and some types of cancer. It is also associated with beneficial health effects in aging, inflammation, and metabolism. Besides red grapes, resveratrol is also found in blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts, and pistachios.
“There is a lot of strong evidence from laboratory models that resveratrol can do a whole host of beneficial things – from protecting against a variety of cancers and heart disease to extending lifespan,” said Cancer research expert Professor Karen Brown.
A Micro Recycling of Grapes Discovered in Our Bodies
Digestion is probably the most popular form of recycling known on earth, but science is continually upgrading our knowledge. Previously thought that resveratrol was rendered ineffective after digestion, now researchers have identified recycling performed on grapes at the cellular level in the body. They discovered resveratrol is still taken into cells, remaining effective at fighting cancer even after the body converts it into other compounds called resveratrol sulfates.
Professor Karen Brown and her team administered resveratrol sulfate to mice for their research. Their results appeared recently in a new paper published in Science Translational Medicine by the University of Leicester’s Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine. Brown and her team found that enzymes within cells break the resveratrol sulfate back down into resveratrol again. They found resveratrol levels in cells are higher than previously thought, and possibly more active because concentrations are higher after the enzymes have recycled it.
New Laboratory Recycling Techniques
Soaking muscadine grape skins in a laboratory solution of enzymes boosts antioxidants extracted from the fruit, creating potentially new uses for recycled grape leftovers, which are loaded with nutrients. Muscadines are a variety of dark-colored grapes which grow well in America and have thick skins accounting for about 40 percent of the fruit’s weight. Concord grapes are the most familiar variety of commercially grown muscadines, with its signature dark purple color and its deliciously rich, sweet juice. The thick skin of the muscadine stores many antioxidants, and is advantageous for the grape grower as well as the drinker, giving it natural resistance to disease, fungi, and insects. Recycling those skins may be advantageous for all of us, too.
The laboratory enzyme process is similar to the body’s natural process and results in a similar increase of antioxidant activity. This new process was developed by Prof. Maurice Marshall, at the University of Florida, and Changmou Xu, a doctoral student, as reported in their recent publication.
Potential New Life for Recycled Grapes as Nutritional Supplements
Currently, the food industry puts synthetic antioxidants into food to preserve it, but resveratrol extracts from recycled muscadine grape skins and seeds are natural, not synthetic. There are many applications possible for using them, such as food additives or nutritional supplements. Synthetic antioxidants also currently preserve fats and oils in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and this is another possible application.
Prof. Marshall notes, “This concept of using natural antioxidants in many different things in the food world is a nice concept to consumers.”
Why Red Wine Is Not a Good Supply for Resveratrol
The international popularity of red wine increased after scientists identified the presence of resveratrol in red wine. Consumers of wine often justify their choice of drink by this presence, though there are many much better sources of resveratrol available. Fresh grapes and juice are preferable and far more healthy than any alcoholic drink.
Dr. Sarah Williams is a Cancer Research health information officer in the UK who agrees. Regarding Professor Brown’s research, Dr. Williams says, “This interesting study supports continued research into resveratrol as a therapeutic molecule, but it’s important to note that any benefits from the molecule don’t come from drinking red wine. It’s well established that drinking any type of alcohol, including red wine, increases the risk of developing cancer.”
This sentiment is found in the Holy Quran, too:
“In alcohol there is a great sin,
and (some) benefits,
but the sin outweighs its benefit”
Muslims Are Prohibited From Drinking Wine
Muslims understand that drinking alcohol is a grave danger, according to God’s Holy Word:
“Satan only wants to cause between you
animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling
and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah
and from prayer. So will you not desist?”
Many statements of the Prophet Muhammad (God’s Peace and blessings be upon him) are recorded in the Hadith regarding alcohol, as well:
“Prayer of him who drinks wine is not accepted by Allah”
“Wine is the key of all evil”
“Cursed is he who drinks, buys, or sells wine
or causes others to drink it”
“Who drinks wine in this world without repenting it,
shall not drink it in the other world”
[-The Prophet Muhammad]
The Real Good Stuff Is up in Heaven
Muslims are prohibited from drinking wine, but only while on Earth. In the “Great Upcycle,” those believers who enter the Pearly Gates will find delightful refreshments waiting, including wine:
“The description of Paradise
which the Righteous have been promised
is that in it are rivers of water
the taste and smell of which are not changed;
rivers of milk of which the taste never changes;
rivers of wine delicious to those who drink;
and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure)”
But for earthbound humans, striving to be obedient to God is the only path to that divine and delicious drink in heaven:
“Lo! the righteous verily are in delight, on couches, gazing,
Thou wilt know in their faces the radiance of delight.
They are given to drink of a pure wine, sealed,
Whose seal is musk –
for this let (all) those strive
who strive for bliss”
To me, that definitely sounds like it’s worth striving for! But, I still have one more question: Which recycle bin do the grapes go in?
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