Grape seed extract: Discover its benefits and uses
Grape seed extract is a substance derived from seeds of the common grape, Vitis vinifera. Commonly sold as a supplement, this extract is available in different forms, such as liquid, tablets or capsules.1
Grape seed extract is quickly becoming well-known due to recently published research. Evidence suggests that grape seed extract contains antioxidants and other compounds that may optimize your health.2 Discover what grape seed extract is and how it can benefit you by reading this article.
What is grape seed extract and its benefits?
Grapes are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S. In 2016 alone, statistics indicate that consumption was 8.2 pounds per capita.3 Consumed raw, grapes have a sweet, yet slightly tart flavor that many people enjoy. But most people discard the seeds when they eat grapes,4 not knowing that these discarded remains may actually be one of the healthiest parts of the plant.
Researchers have discovered that grape seed extract contains powerful antioxidants that may be beneficial to your health, particularly oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). According to Alternative Medicine Review, OPCs are not just antioxidants, but also possess the following properties:5
- Vasodilatory actions
Studies regarding the benefits of grape seed extract
One of the notable benefits associated with grape seed extract is its ability to help curb high blood pressure. In a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers noted that those who consumed 300 milligrams of grape seed extract twice daily for six weeks had significantly reduced systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
In addition, fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity improved.6 Additional research has shown that grape seed extract may help in the following capacities:7
- Bone strength — A study has found that a mixture of calcium and grape seed extract had a beneficial effect on bone formation and strength for the treatment of bone debility caused by low levels of calcium among participating Wistar rats.8
- Yeast control — Research indicates that grape seed extract can help control Candida albicans, a yeast strain commonly associated with vaginal candidiasis and mucosal infection.9
- Cognitive function — According to a study published in Experimental Gerontology, grape seed extract was found to help lower oxidative stress in the brain, thanks to its proanthocyanidin content.10
- Diabetes — In one study, diabetic male Wistar rats who were given grape seed extract along with exercise exhibited reduced body weight, high-density lipoproteins, heart rate and systolic blood pressure.11
- Edema — Taking grape seed extract may help reduce swelling (edema) after a period of prolonged sitting, as suggested in a study published in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.12
- Anti-platelet aggregation — The polyphenols found in grape seed extract have been found to help reduce platelet aggregation.13
- Cholesterol management — Grape seed extract has been found to exhibit beneficial effects on oxidized LDL cholesterol, according to a study published in Japan.14
Grape seed extract may also help reduce your risk of developing cancerous skin tumors. According to a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, supplementation of proanthocyanidins from grape seeds exhibited a decrease of ultraviolet-induced skin tumor development in SKH-1 hairless mice. Researchers believe that the antioxidants work by helping reduce oxidative stress in the body, among other beneficial processes.15
Possible side effects of grape seed extract supplements
Grape seed extract is well-tolerated, according to published studies. In one example, no side effects were reported among female volleyball players who took the extracts to test for improved metabolic function.16 In another study that experimented on the effects of grape seed extracts on energy intake, participants didn't show any adverse effects.17
At the most, you may experience digestive discomfort. In a 2019 study, four participants who took grape seed extract rich in proanthocyanidin experienced gastrointestinal problems.18
Note: Feasting on grapes may not provide the same effect as grape seed extract
While published data suggest that supplementation of grape seed extract may benefit your health, some people may opt for a natural route by consuming grapes. However, to obtain these benefits, you would need to eat a lot of grapes, which is not advisable as the fruit is high in fructose. Too much sugar in your system can potentially harm your health.
As an alternative, you can just consume the seeds, but be advised that they have a very bitter taste due to the various antioxidants present in them. If you do not like the taste of the seeds, you may opt for a high-quality grape seed extract supplement instead.
Frequently asked questions about grape seed extract
Q: What is grape seed extract good for?
A: Research indicates that grape seed extract can play a role in helping manage diabetes and cholesterol levels, boost your antioxidant levels, reduce the risk of platelet aggregation and eliminate microbes.19
Q: Where can you buy grape seed extract?
A: Grape seed extract can be conveniently purchased online. However, it's more important to look into the quality of the ingredients used, and if the company follows ethical business practices to create a top-notch product that is safe to consume.