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Good news come in bunches

Scientists report that grapes are good for our health, and grapes are now in season.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 5, 2001


Red wine, we've been told, is good for us in moderation. Now wouldn't it stand to reason that grapes should be as well? They are.

Dr. Michael Roizen, dean of the School of Medicine at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., and author of RealAge, Are You as Young as You Can Be? says grapes contain flavonoids that slow the aging process.

Dr. Roizen explained that, if grapes were the only source of flavonoids a person gets, then he would need to eat about seven cups a day. However, Roizen said, flavonoids are in onions, garlic, green tea, cranberries, broccoli, celery, tomatoes, apples and strawberries.

He added that resveratrol, which is found in the skin of grapes, substantially decreases the growth of a number of types of cancer cells and inhibits cancer development in some animal species.

"There are five groups now testing this in humans," the author said.

Here is more good news. September is peak season for grapes.

"You have the largest volume of grapes and the largest number of varieties" available this season, said Jim Howard, communications director for the California Table Grape Commission.

Unlike many fruits, grapes are picked when they are ripe, Howard said. As a result, extra vigilance is required when shopping.

"You simply have to make sure the grapes have been handled properly," Howard said. "They should have green, pliable stems and firm berries, and that lets you know that those grapes have been harvested not too long ago, and they have been handled properly."

Increasingly, he said, grapes are being sold prepackaged.

"The stores really strongly prefer grapes that are already in bags," he said. "It's a lot easier to handle. It's easier to place the grapes on the shelves, and they don't fall on the floor. Now over 80 percent are packed in bags."

The fruit also is being sold in small plastic containers with two or three varieties displayed together, Howard said.

When shopping this month, look for plenty of green, red and black seedless varieties.

Howard, speaking from his Fresno, Calif., office, also offers back-to-school tips. He has learned one thing from his daughter, he said.

"A small bunch of grapes popped off and put in a Ziploc bag is the one thing that she will eat," he said. "It will not come back."

Frozen grapes, which make nutritious bite-sized treats, are good after-school snacks, he added.

Here in Florida, Les Harrison, of the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says this month shoppers should look for Florida avocados, carambola, grapefruit, limes, mangoes, mushrooms, okra, squash and even early tangerines.

Seafood

Tuna, grouper, spiny lobster and snapper are some of the seafood specialties that will be available in September, according to George Vlahakis of Save on Seafood in Gulfport.

The price of tuna is high right now, he said, with tuna steaks going for around $9.95 a pound. Those prices, though, should begin to fall as the month progresses, said Vlahakis, blaming stormy weather in the Caribbean and Pacific for the higher costs.

Grouper fillets will sell for about $9.95 a pound, while red snapper fillets from the Caribbean will cost about $7.95 a pound. Whole snapper will cost around $3.95 a pound.

This month look for blue crabs, though they will not be abundant, Vlahakis said.

Farm-raised salmon from Chile will be available, with fillets costing about $5 a pound. In addition, Lake Victoria perch fillets from Africa will sell for about $5.95 a pound.

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