What is Grape Seed Extract?
Grapes have provided a wealth of health benefits throughout history. Grape seed extract is a supplement derived from the ground-up grape seeds used to manufacture red wine. Just like red wine, it can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. There is evidence that it helps with eye conditions resulting from diabetes.
Grape Seed Extract Benefits
Helps Reduce Blood Pressure
Several studies have examined the effects of grape seed extract on blood pressure. During a meta-analysis of over 16 various studies, which included 810 participants who had high blood pressure or exhibited a risk of HBP, researchers found that participants who took just 100 – 2,000 mg daily had a significant reduction in their diastolic blood pressure.
On average, study participants saw a reduction of 2.8 mmHg. Those under the age of 50 who classified as obese benefited the most from taking grape seed extract (x). Therefore, it may help to reduce blood pressure.
Helps Improve Blood Circulation
There is mounting evidence that grape seed extract might help to increase blood flow. For example, red wine is already heavily linked to lower risk of heart disease.
Researchers Wayne R. Leifert and Mahinda Y Abeywardena of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation concluded that the polyphenols in grape seed extract act as a natural antioxidant — specifically resveratrol, anthocyanin, flavonoids and phenolic acid (x). These antioxidants work to prevent damage at the cellular level by decreasing oxidation of “bad” cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, that can lead to atherosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries that decreases blood flow).
Also, researchers found that grape polyphenols work as a protective agent for both the heart and blood vessels by reducing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, blood vessel narrowing and blood clotting. In fact, an eight-week study conducted on 17 postmenopausal women showed that taking just 400 mg of grape seed extract had a blood-thinning effect, which could mean that it might help in reducing the risk of clotting (x).
Aids in Reducing Oxidative Damage
The medical community already knows that the oxidation of LDL cholesterol increases the risk of fatty plaque building up in the arteries (x). In fact, there is evidence that taking grape seed extract can help to reduce LDL oxidation in people who consume a high-fat diet.
In one study, 87 people undergoing heart surgery took 400 mg of grape seed extract the day before their procedure. Results showed that they had a significant decrease in oxidative stress. That means that taking the extract might help to protect people with a predisposed heart condition from sustaining more damage (x).
Also, at times of high stress, people might benefit from taking grape seed extract to reduce oxidation of the heart by reducing LDL oxidation. A reduction in LDL oxidation helps to reduce fatty plaque build-up that can lead to a high risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Helps Improve Bone and Collagen Strength
Supplementing with grape seed extract increases your intake of flavonoids. Research shows that an increase in flavonoid consumption is linked to improved bone formation and collagen synthesis. Since grape seed extract is a good source of flavonoids, it may help to increase bone density and bone strength (x).
Grape seed extract can also help treat rheumatoid arthritis. This autoimmune condition leads to the destruction of the bones and joints. However, studies done on animals have shown that grape seed extract can help to suppress inflammation and bone destruction, which makes it a worthwhile supplement to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (x). It can also reduce the pain associated with joint damage and bone spurs while helping to reduce cartilage loss (x).
Aids in Preventing Neurodegenerative Diseases
Flavonoids found in grape seed extract can help lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. This is because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties (x).
Gallic acid is a substance that can inhibit the growth of fibrils by beta-amyloid peptides in animal studies. In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain exhibits clusters of beta-amyloid proteins. Because grape seed extract contains gallic acid, it may improve cognitive function and reduce amyloid clusters and brain lesions while even reducing memory loss in animals (x).
A study conducted on 111 older adults spanning twelve weeks concluded that taking 150 mg of grape seed extract a day helped to improve language, attention and memory (x). In other words, low doses can help reduce cognitive decline and the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Helps Improve Kidney Function
Your kidneys are highly susceptible to oxidative damage. And once you sustain kidney damage, it is very often irreversible. Luckily, studies on animals show that supplementing with grape seed extract can help reduce kidney damage caused by oxidative stress (x).
Grape seed extract can also help to reduce inflammation in the kidneys, which can lead to better kidney function. In fact, in a study where 23 participants were diagnosed with renal failure took 2 grams of grape seed extract a day for six months, researchers found that kidney filtration improved by nine percent. Also, protein in the participant’s urine decreased by as much as three percent. Therefore, they concluded that grape seed extract helps to improve overall kidney function and to reduce damage due to oxidation (x).
Potentially Inhibits Infectious Growth
Grape seed extract can inhibit the growth of food-borne illnesses like E. coli and campylobacter. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to stop the growth of 43 different strains of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (x).
Also, Candida, which is the overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus that leads to thrush, was eliminated in mice that were infected with it when they were given an intra-vaginal grape seed extract concoction every other day for eight days. In essence, supplementing with this extract may help to prevent bacterial infections (x).
Possibly Reduces Cancer Risk
Highly potent antioxidants like proanthocyanidins and flavonoids have been linked to the reduction of risk for numerous types of cancer (x). In fact, laboratory tests have indicated that grape seed extract helped to inhibit the production of gastric, lung, oral, prostate, pancreatic, breast and lung cancer cell growth (x).
The extract has also been shown to increase the therapeutic potency of chemotherapy in lab mice. And since grape seed extract is capable of protecting against oxidative stress and liver toxicity — both of which can result from chemotherapy — it can be doubly beneficial for those undergoing chemotherapy (x).
Helps Boost Testosterone
Grape seed extract is chock-full of resveratrol, which is a known testosterone boosting agent. Procyanidin and proanthocyanidin work by effectively blocking the conversion of testosterone into estrogen by inhibiting the enzyme aromatase.
Studies done on grape seed extract and testosterone show that regular supplementation could inhibit the enzyme aromatase from converting testosterone into estrogen. When this happens, the level of testosterone in the body increases (x).
May Help to Protect the Liver
The liver filters out harmful substances like alcohol, pollutants and drugs, and grape seed extract can help provide a protective effect on the liver. In fact, when test-tube studies were done on grape seed extract, researchers found that it helped to reduce inflammation and that it had a protective effect that reduced free-radical damage when toxins were introduced (x).
ALT or alanine aminotransferase is a liver enzyme that gives a measure of liver toxicity. When 15 people with non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease and high ALT levels were administered grape seed extract for three months, their ALT levels lowered, which means that they exhibited lower levels of liver toxicity (x).
The grape seed extract experimental group had as much as a 46 percent reduction in their levels of ALT when compared to another group that received 2 grams of vitamin C daily. Additional studies are necessary, but it might be a powerful tool to help keep your liver healthy and acting optimally.
Helps Promote Skin Health
It has been shown to improve the healing of wounds. Thirty-five participants who had recently undergone minor surgery were asked to take either a placebo or a 2 percent grape seed extract cream. The group that took the extract had an average healing time of eight days. On the other hand, the placebo group’s average was 12 days. Proanthocyanidin contained in the extract allows skin to rejuvenate much more quickly (x).
Aids in Weight Loss
Supplementing with this extract has been shown to help inhibit fatty deposits and reduce fat absorption in the body. It has also been shown to potentially boost your overall metabolism. When your metabolism increases, you burn calories faster. All of those things combined make grape seed extract a powerful supplement for weight loss.
Dosage and Side Effects
Grape seed extract is ground up seeds from various grape varieties. In this form, it can only be taken in as a dietary supplement. If you are planning to take grape seed extract as a supplement, it is best to take one 200 mg capsule every other day, but no more than one capsule per day or as directed by your physician (x).
Side effects may include upset stomach, vomiting, nausea, headache, dry mouth, diarrhea, muscle pain, dizziness and itchy scalp. Grape seed extract can also affect the way the liver breaks down and processes certain medications.
The Bottom Line
Grape seed extract can provide a host of health benefits. It works as an antioxidant, reduces oxidative stress and even has the potential to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It may also be able to stop cancer growth. Best of all, the benefits are plentiful and come with very few risks of adverse side effects.
By: Julie Keating