MUSCADINESBelieved to be America’s oldest cultivated grapevine, the Mother Vine dates back to 1854, though some believe even longer, and it continues to thrive today. Caretaking of the Mother Vine has been passed down through the decades, eventually taken on by Jack and Estelle Wilson, who bought the property the Mother Vine lives on in the late 1950s.

Today, the couple works with The Outer Banks Conservationists to help protect this scuppernong vine, as well as with the Mothervine Co., which creates high-quality, American-made natural health products using muscadine grapes inspired by the vine.

Estelle makes preserves from the grapes, while Jack prunes the vines and takes care of the arbor. The Wilsons say while they own the land, they believe the public owns the Mother Vine.

They didn’t always feel that way. In fact, Jack almost bulldozed the vine away when he first bought the property. In 2010, a pesticide accident threatened the vine again, but the vine lives on and continues to produce scuppernongs, which is a variety of a muscadine.

“Eating muscadines provides a powerful boost for your immune system,” says Matthew Odom, executive vice president of the Mothervine Co. “Researchers have identified about 89 different phytonutrients, and a lot of them are tremendous antioxidants.”

Odom’s father founded the company after surviving cancer twice, seeking a supplement to aid in his recovery and boost his health. He started the company after creating whole-food supplements from muscadines.

At age 78, Odom’s father stays active, enjoying life to the fullest with his family and friends.

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He takes no prescription drugs. Odom notes polyphenols are micronutrients found in plant-based food sources that have antioxidant properties. More and more research is emerging to support their role in preventing degenerative diseases. “We believe it’s important to eat polyphenols every day, and muscadines are an excellent way to do that,” he says.

Plus, eating muscadines is thought to help the heart, brain, bones and joints stay healthy, among other things. One major benefit the company has found is the positive impact that muscadine nutrition seems to have on diabetes.