Grape Seed Extract And Its Potential Benefits

By:    Published: July 1, 2012

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Pomegranates, blueberries and acai berries are often lauded for having high amounts of antioxidants. But the one fruit that doesn’t get its just due is the grape. More than six thousand years ago, ancient cultures used grapes to heal every health problem from eye infections to cancer. As the centuries passed, however, grapes were replaced with modern medicine, but in recent decades, grape seed extract has shown promising results when used for medicinal purposes.

What Is Grape Seed Extract?

Grape seed extract is derived from grapes and contains high amounts of vitamin E, flavanoids, linoleic acid and resveratrol, an antioxidant that’s found mainly in the grape’s skin. Grape seed extract also contains oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes or OPCs, another type of antioxidant that is believed to have the ability to ward off a plethora of health conditions. These antioxidants can also be found in red wine and grape juice but in lower concentrations than what’s found in grape seed extract.

How Should It Be Taken?

Grape seed extract is available in liquid, tablet and capsule form and is generally safe for adults to take. That said, grape seed extract is considered to be an herbal supplement and, therefore, could interact with medications and other supplements to produce unwanted side effects. These side effects include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

The OPCs in particular may interfere with blood thinners and Phenacetin, so it’s best to talk with a doctor before trying grape seed extract. Pregnant women and children are advised to not take grape seed extract, but they certainly can indulge in whole grapes.

Health Benefits

Many people drink a glass of red wine in the evening for the antioxidants, but grape seed extract is a better alternative because it provides the same amount of antioxidants and doesn’t contain alcohol. The antioxidants in grape seed extract have shown promising results in many studies over the years when it comes to combating the following conditions:

  • Chronic venous insufficiency – This condition causes the blood to pool in the legs, making the legs swell, feel painful or fatigued and the veins to become visible. Quite a few studies have shown that grape seed extract can reduce these symptoms.
  • Edema – Edema is swelling that results from an injury or a surgery. It commonly occurs in women who have had breast cancer surgery. Studies show that grape seed extract can reduce swelling and pain in people who have undergone surgery for breast cancer as well as in those who have sustained a sports injury.
  • High blood pressure – A few studies have been conducted on the cardiovascular benefits of grape seed extract and, although preliminary, the results have been positive. Grape seed extract has been linked to lower blood pressure in those with metabolic syndrome, reduced inflammation in diabetics and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Cholesterol – Early studies have shown that grape seed extract can lower cholesterol, particularly the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in smokers.
  • Alzheimer’s disease – Although early studies have only tested animals, they do show that grape seed extract may be able to delay the development of Alzheimer’s by reducing inflammation and plaque build-up in the brain.
  • Cancer – These tests have also not been conducted on humans, but test tubes studies show that grape seed’s antioxidants may be able to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Grape seed extract can also help with other conditions, although more testing on the results is needed. Those conditions are:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Poor circulation
  • Poor night vision
  • Constipation
  • Hemorrhoids

Other Benefits

Grape seed extract has many other useful purposes as well. The polyphenols it contains are just as good of an immune system booster as, if not better than, vitamin C. Its anti-inflammatory properties also make it a great bacteria and pathogen fighter. For those reasons, some people take grape seed extract instead of cold medications. Other practical uses for grape seed extract include:

  • Cooking – Although olive oil is thought of as the healthiest oil to cook with, grape seed oil may be just as beneficial. Like tofu, grape seed oil, or the extract in liquid form, does not have much of a taste so it won’t overpower or even flavor the food with which you cook it. It also has a high smoke point, which means that it can withstand high temperatures, making it perfect for cooking.
  • Fights aging – Some studies have shown that the antioxidants in grape seed extract can fight free radicals, which are believed to be the cause of aging. From the outside, grape seed extract can also fight aging when used as a moisturizer. Grape seed extract is often an ingredient in cosmetics and lotions as well as in certain hair care products.

With so many uses and health benefits, it’s no wonder that ancient cultures used grape seed extract to cure so many ailments. Although it used as much in today’s society, after further testing it may be used as a common form of medicine once again.

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