Grape seeds are rich in powerful antioxidants and natural plant compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs)
Grapes are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S., but many people neglect to eat what is perhaps their healthiest feature — the seeds. Grape seeds are rich in powerful antioxidants and natural plant compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs).
OPCs are most well known for their antioxidant activity, which means, at the very least, grape seed may help to destroy free radicals in your body, which in turn may help you avoid premature aging and certain chronic diseases.
However, OPCs also demonstrate a host of other beneficial activities in the body, which may explain why grape seed extract appears to help so many different health conditions while exerting its effects body-wide.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):
"Today, grape seed extract is used as a folk or traditional remedy for conditions related to the heart and blood vessels, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor circulation …
… Complications related to diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage; vision problems, such as macular degeneration (which can cause blindness); swelling after an injury or surgery; cancer prevention; and wound healing.
The grape seeds used to produce grape seed extract are generally obtained from wine manufacturers."
OPCs Help Make Grape Seed Extract a Health Superstar
One of grape seed extract's claims to fame is OPCs, which are related to the much more well-known compound resveratrol (found in grape skins). According to the journal Alternative Medicine Review, OPCs not only have antioxidant activity but are also:Antibacterial
|In addition, the journal reported OPCs "have been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation, capillary permeability and fragility, and to affect enzyme systems … Based on these reported findings, OPCs may be a useful component in the treatment of a number of conditions."|
OPCs may even play a role in cancer prevention. Research published in the journal Prostate found OPCs helped stop the spread of prostate cancer cells and also caused apoptosis (cell death) among prostate cancer cells.3 Further, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center:4
"Studies have found that grape seed extracts may prevent the growth of breast, stomach, colon, prostate, and lung cancer cells in test tubes. However, there is no clear evidence whether it works in humans.Grape seed extract also contains high levels of compounds (procyanidin dimers) that act as aromatase inhibitors. This is likely another way grape seeds may help prevent and treat cancer, specifically hormone-dependent breast cancer.
Aromatase, an enzyme, converts androgen to estrogen and is expressed at higher levels in breast cancer tissues than normal tissues.
Many types of breast cancer are fueled by estrogen, which is why some chemotherapy drugs work by inhibiting the activity of aromatase. Grape seed extract may exert similar effects naturally.
Grape Seed for Your Heart Health, Skin and Brain
The more research that emerges on grape seeds, the more it becomes clear they have wide-reaching health benefits. Grape seeds have been shown to improve flexibility in joints, arteries and body tissues such as your heart, for instance.
High Blood Pressure
Grape seed extract has previously been shown to help dilate blood vessels and was shown to lower blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome (most of whom also had prehypertension).
Another study found that a grape seed extract beverage improved blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension,7 while a single dose of grape seed extract improved blood pressure in hypertensive rats.Chronic Venous Insufficiency
According to researchers, "This [grape seed extract and exercise training] may constitute a convenient and inexpensive therapeutic approach to diabetic complications."Slight evidence suggests grape seed extract may also be beneficial for:
Can You Get the Benefits of Grape Seeds from Eating Grapes?
If you enjoy snacking on grapes, there's no reason to spit out the seeds (and may be some benefit from eating them). However, to reach therapeutic quantities of grape seeds you'd need to eat a lot of grapes — and this is not recommended since grapes are one of the highest-fructose fruits.
Most grape-seed extract comes from ground-up seeds from grapes used to make red wine. In fact, grape seeds and their extract are considered a byproduct of the wine and grape juice industries.
Unfortunately, since most people find them to be unpalatable, "the food industry routinely removes these compounds from plant foods through selective breeding and a variety of debittering processes." If you're willing to get past the bitter taste, then whole grape seeds are an option.
If not, grape seed and grape seed extract is available in supplement form. There is no daily recommended amount at this time, but some studies used doses of between 100 to 300 milligrams/day. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends looking for products that are standardized to 40 percent to 80 percent proanthocyanidins, or an OPC content of not less than 95 percent.
What are the benefits of grape seed extract?
Side effectsCommon side effects include:
- sore throat
- itchy scalp
- stomach ache
Grape seed extract might also act as an anticoagulant, or blood-thinner. It could increase the risk of bleeding if taken with other blood-thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin.
The NCCIH describes grape seed extract as "generally well tolerated when taken in moderate amounts."
It is available for purchase online, but you should check with a doctor first to make sure it is safe for you to use.
This fact sheet provides basic information about grape seed extract—common names, usefulness and safety, and resources for more information.
Common Names: grape seed extract, grape seed
Latin Name: Vitis vinifera
- Since ancient Greece people have used grapes, grape leaves, and sap for health purposes. Grape seed extract was developed in the 1970s.
- Today, grape seed extract is used as a dietary supplement for various conditions, including for venous insufficiency (when veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart), to promote wound healing, and to reduce inflammation.
- Grape seed extract contains the antioxidant compound oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC), which has been studied for a variety of health conditions.
- OPCs are found in extracts of grape skin and seeds, which are by-products of the wine industry. Grape seed extract is available in capsules and tablets and as a liquid.
How Much Do We Know?
- There are a few well-controlled studies of people using grape seed extract for health conditions.
What Have We Learned?
- Some studies suggest that compounds in grape seed extract may reduce edema (swelling) and help with symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, but the evidence isn’t strong.
- Grape seed extract may have some heart benefits, including lowering systolic blood pressure and heart rate. The lower heart rate may cause the decrease in systolic blood pressure. The extract had no effect on lipid levels such as cholesterol or C-reactive protein, an indication of inflammation in your arteries.
- The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is supporting preliminary research on grape seed extract for Alzheimer’s disease and also for hereditary hemochromatosis, when the body’s iron levels are too high. The National Cancer Institute is supporting preliminary studies on grape seed extract for preventing prostate, lung, and colon cancer.
What Do We Know About Safety?
- Grape seed extract is generally well tolerated when taken in moderate amounts. It has been tested safely for up to 14 weeks in studies of people. It’s possibly unsafe if you have a bleeding disorder or are going to have surgery or if you take anticoagulants (blood thinners), such as warfarin or aspirin.
Keep in Mind
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
Cardiovascular benefitsThe antioxidants in grape seed extract can potentially protect the blood vessels from becoming damaged, which may prevent high blood pressure.
According to one study, published in the journal Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis, "grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) provides superior antioxidant efficacy as compared to Vitamins C, E, and β-carotene."
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) note that it may help reduce systolic blood pressure and heart rate, but they point out that it will not help decrease lipid levels, for example, cholesterol, in the blood.
Preventing cognitive declineGrape seed extract is very high in proanthocyanidins which some believe could prevent cognitive decline.
One study identified "a critical role for grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) as a neuroprotectant in the hippocampus and in preventing cognitive loss with aging."
The NCCIH is supporting studies on the effect of grape seed extract on Alzheimer's disease.
Other possible benefitsOther possible benefits associated with grape seed extract include:
Grape seed extract contains proanthocyanidins
- treating tooth decay
- protecting against pathogens
- improving night vision
- Alzheimer's disease
- treating diabetic retinopathy and improving blood sugar control
- relieving symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency
- anti-aging properties (protecting collagen and elastin)
- reducing edema
- relieving symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency
- reducing iron levels in people with hemochromatosis
- reducing inflammation
However, a study in 2014 showed that four daily doses of grape seed extract "did not significantly decrease estrogen or increase androgen precursors."
Preventing hair loss by consuming grape seed extract has been theorized. Some nutritionists believe that proanthocyanidins inhibit dihydrotestosterone (DHT), one of the hormones thought to be involved in hair loss but, evidence for its effectiveness is scant.
Improving bone strengthIncluding grape seed extract in your diet with calcium has a "beneficial effect on bone formation and bone strength for the treatment of bone debility caused by a low level of calcium."
This is according to a study published in the Journal of Musculoskeletal & Neuronal Interactions that investigated the effects of calcium and proanthocyanidins on the bone structure of mice which had been fed a low-calcium diet.
Anti-Candida activityA study conducted in Italy examined grape seed extract's ability to attack Candida, a yeast-like parasitic fungus that can, sometimes, cause thrush. Grape seed oil contains flavan-3-ols. The researchers concluded:
"The results pointed out a significant inhibition of Candida albicans load 5 days after challenge. These findings indicate that grape seed extracts with high content of polymeric flavan-3-ols can be used in mucosal infection such as vaginal candidiasis."
Preventing skin cancerGrape seeds contain proanthocyanidins which might prevent the development of cancer. A study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, found that grape seeds have properties that can reduce the severity of skin cancer.
Using hairless mice, the research team tested the ability of grape seed proanthocyanidins to slow the formation of skin tumor development.
The researchers concluded that grape seed extracts "could be useful in the attenuation of the adverse UV-induced health effects in human skin."
It is thought that the protective nature of proanthocyanidins comes via a number of routes including a reduction in oxidative stress and immunosuppression by altering cytokine activity. Further research is needed to firm up the findings.
Grape seed extract may have a range of health benefits.
Studies on animal models have revealed that grape seed extract can be effective in treating heart disease.
Some experts think that grape seed extract could even have anticancer and cancer chemo
Over recent years, there has been a great deal of research pointing to possible therapeutic properties of grape seed extract. Listed below are some of the key findings.
Healing woundsGrape seed extract has the potential to increase the speed that wounds heal. A study, published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, applied proanthocyanidin extract onto wounds on the backs of mice. They found that the mice treated with this solution had quicker healing times.
According to the researchers they "provided firm evidence to support that topical application of GSPE [Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract] represents a feasible and productive approach to support dermal wound healing."
Although it is not clear how this protection occurs, GSPE was found to increase production of vascular endothelial growth factor, a compound important in the wound healing process.
Grape Seed Extract: 9 Amazing Benefits (Including Anti-Aging!)
Although you probably buy seedless grapes to eat, the seeds are actually extremely sought after in the beauty and health world. Why? Grape seed extract, commonly referred to as GSE, contains powerful health benefits. This is why it’s been showing up in nutritional supplements, skincare and beauty products.
What’s so great about those tiny seeds? One word: proanthocyanidins—a type of polyphenol with amazing antioxidant properties.1 Grape seed extract happens to be chock full of them.
Sure, you’ve probably had your share of the fruit, be it as juice, jam, jelly, wine, vinegar, or raisins. But, the seeds of a grape contain a powerfully healthy oil. Yes, there are more reasons to love grapes—because of the many beauty and health benefits.
Where Does It Come From?The seeds inside grapes used to be considered the worthless by-product of wine production. In the past, they were thrown out as waste. Come to find out, the seeds are extremely valuable. Instead of getting rid of them, grape seeds are in demand to create the extract. Because, let’s face it, eating fruit seeds is not enjoyable and it’s difficult for the body to digest.
Grapes, also called Vitis Vinifera in Latin, are a species of the fruiting berries of the vines of Vitis.2 Like any liana (a type of vine), grape vines are long-stemmed, woody and rooted from the ground. They have the uncanny ability to work their way up using anything it can grab onto in order to climb to sun-kissed spaces. The fruits are oval-shaped berries that turn darker colored when they ripen. Grapes can be red, green or white, and sometimes black.3 Since they usually thrive under humid, temperate or tropical climate, grapes are native to Asia near the Caspian Sea.4 With the popularity of wine, the cultivation of grapes have spread to many other parts of the world.
This fruit has been useful to humans even as early as the Neolithic period.5 Grapes were cultivated for its nutritional and medicinal properties. The Ancient Greeks cultivated the fruit to make wine, which they hailed for its healing qualities.6 European folk healers extracted the sap from grapevines and used them to treat skin and eye infections. They used the leaves of the vine to treat hemorrhoids, pain, and inflammations.7 European folk healers also used the unripe grapes to cure soreness of their throats and treated constipation and excessive thirst with dried grapes (raisins) and water.8
Why Is It Healthy?Grape seed extract is composed of a complex mixture of flavonoids, Vitamin E, linoleic acid, and phenolic procyanidins.9 These compounds can also be found in the skins and juices of the fruit. The active agents of extract are mostly polyphenols or OPCs (oligomeric procyanidins), which is usually the commercial reason why grape seeds are being extracted. Proanthocyanidins and catechins are the potent antioxidants in grape seeds that are believed to be 20 times greater than vitamin E and 50 times greater than vitamin C.10
What Are The Benefits Of Grape Seed Extract?
OPCs (Oligomeric Procyanidins) are a class of polyphenols. They are commonly found in grape seeds, berries, and other plants. According to many doctors and nutritionists, include Dr. Steven Gundry, polyphenols are the most important nutrients your body needs. Why? Because researchers in the medicinal world keep proving how polyphenols are responsible for the antioxidant, free-radical scavenging properties of GSE.11
1. Radical Scavenging PropertiesThese polyphenols are believed to be effective in neutralizing singlet oxygen radicals that contribute to inflammations in your body.12 They also aid in improving Vitamin C activity, protecting you from bacteria, viruses and other chronic illnesses.13
2. Reduces Risk Of Clogged ArteriesAlthough it’s not advocated by all health organizations, the famous “French Paradox” states how the French are protected from the risks of heart disease for drinking wine. However, it’s the flavonoids (the most common group of polyphenolic compounds) in grapes that positively affect your body and not the alcohol in wines. Flavonoids are believed to lower the bad cholesterol in your body.14
3. Helps Control Blood PressureMore research on grape seed extract’s medicinal properties keeps piling up as researchers discover ways to control hypertension. Studies revealed the relatively high concentrations of oligomeric procyanidins (class of flavonoids) in grape seed extract caused the relaxation of arteries, and blood vessels, thereby controlling blood pressure.15
4. Aids in Reducing EdemaGrape seed extract apparently aids in reducing the swelling (edema) caused by injuries and surgical operations. Studies revealed how patients who went through surgery and took grape seed extract showed very little signs of swelling. Researchers also found links between GSE and inhibiting the growth of tumors.16
5. Aids Other ConditionsThere are other ways in which grape seed extract can benefit you. If you have diabetes, you might find grape seed extract useful. It’s purported to aid in controlling blood sugar levels.17 Other conditions it may be helpful in are hemorrhoids and more.18
6. Anti-AgingDid you know that among all the benefits above, grape seed extract also improves the health of your skin? It has light, small molecules that are easily absorbed by the skin.19 That’s right: topical application of grape seed extract allows it to take effect quickly and efficiently. GSE acts as an alpha hydroxy acid (compounds used in skincare preparations due to its exfoliating properties), so it can improve your skin in various ways.20
7. Improves Skin’s ElasticityPolyphenols are also known to be excellent binders of collagen fibers, improving the condition of connective tissues, and overall maintaining the elasticity of your skin, joints, arteries, and other connective tissues.21
8. Boosts Wound HealingThe alpha hydroxy acid in grape seed extract improves the moisture barrier of your skin cells. This helps cells to retain moisture for a fresh, dewy appearance. Consequently, applying topical cream with GSE makes the wounds heal faster and scars can be reduced.22
9. Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial and Antifungal PropertiesThe seeds also contains a compound called resveratrol.23 Resveratrol is praised for its anti-inflammatory properties, which makes GSE a great help in reducing swelling caused by dermatitis, infections, cuts, and excessive exposure to the sun’s rays. Additionally, it exhibits antibacterial and antifungal properties.23
The Best Way to Supplement with GSETo enjoy the maximum benefits of GSE, follow these guidelines:24
1. When buying GSE supplement, read the label carefully and make sure it contains 80 percent proanthocyanidins. This level guarantees the supplement will stimulate body activities that will result in antioxidant behavior.
2. Take GSE supplement with other vitamins or supplements because it works well with other natural supplements and vitamins. For instance, Vitamin C and Vitamin E improve the absorption of grape seed extract. Also, Vitamin E’s healthy and beauty benefits boost when taken with antioxidants.
3. The recommended daily dose of GSE for adults is 150 to 300mg per day. Consume the dose on a regular basis so your body can adapt to its regular absorption.
Grape Seed Extract, 100% natural and safe, is good news for its health and beauty boosting properties. And in this day and age, when more and more people are looking for natural treatments and preventative care, GSE is more popular than ever.
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21 Wagner H. Grape Seed Extract Help Speed Up Wound Recovery, Study Suggests. Researchnewsosuedu. 2002. Accessed November 7, 2016.
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