Grape leaves, a popular staple of heart-healthy Mediterranean cuisine, are rich in vitamins and minerals. Grape leaves are often to be found canned or bottled, while raw or fresh grape leaves are best consumed after they’re steamed or blanched. A popular Greek dish called dolmas uses grape leaves as a wrapper for rice, onions and meat. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists grape leaves on its suggested shopping list based on the healthy dietary guidelines for Americans.
For those watching their weight, grape leaves are very low in calories — about 14 calories for every five leaves. For general health and wellness, grape leaves are a good source of nutrients, including vitamins C, E, A, K and B6, plus niacin, iron, fiber, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese. A single heart-healthy serving, or one cup of grape leaves, has no fat or cholesterol and is very low in sodium and sugar.
Grape leaves are mildly anti-inflammatory based on a rating system that estimates the inflammatory potential of foods and food combinations. Chronic inflammation is may cause certain illnesses and diseases, such as heart disease, many types of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Other diseases that are a result of inflammation include arthritis and many gastrointestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease. While lifestyle and genetics contribute to chronic inflammation, maintaining a diet that is healthy and low in inflammatory foods is the best strategy for containing it and reducing long-term disease risks.
Low Glycemic Load
A single serving of grape leaves is full of nutrients and has a low glycemic load of 1. Monitoring one’s glycemic load is important, especially for diabetics, since it measures the effect of food on blood-sugar levels. A daily total glycemic load target for the average, healthy adult is 100 or less, making grape leaves a healthy choice. Individuals with diabetes or metabolic syndrome should aim for a lower number.