You’ve probably eaten a grape and enjoyed the soft burst of the ripe fruit in your mouth followed by the wave of cool, refreshing juice. But, did you realize that grapes, or at least the extract from grape seeds, deliver more benefits than just refreshment? Grape seed extract has a variety of health applications and benefits, which include improving cardiovascular function, reducing edema or swelling, improving wound healing, and others.
The History behind Grape Seed Extract
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, grapes, including the leaves, have been used as a medical treatment since ancient Greek times. The tradition continues today as grape seed extract is a common folk remedy that is used to treat a variety of ailments. While the seeds used are taken from a variety of place, most of them actually are obtained from wine manufacturers.
Health Benefits of Grape Seed
The extract of any fruit or seed considered the true essence of the fruit. The extract contains concentrated flavor as well as nutritional benefits. The same holds true with grape seed extract. This unique compound that is rendered from grape seeds and contains a rich combination of antioxidants and oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs). These nutritional components make grape seed extract effective for treating a variety of health conditions and supporting a number of health benefits including healing wounds, lowering cholesterol, treating atherosclerosis, improving circulation, enhancing cognitive function, and preventing cancer.
1. Healing Wounds
The antioxidants and vitamin E contained in grape seed extract promote cell regeneration. With this benefit, the extract promotes more rapid healing of wounds. A study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine supports this claim and provides evidence that the topical application of the extract supports dermal rejuvenation and healing.
2. Lowering Cholesterol
The active compounds in grape seed oil actually have a positive effect on the breakdown of fat. As your body is more capable of breaking down and eliminating fat and buildup in your cardiovascular system, your cholesterol levels will lower. A study shows that grape seed extract taken in conjunction with chromium has the greatest effect on lowering total and LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels.
3. Treating Atherosclerosis
Grape seed extract contains a high concentration of antioxidants. These components protect your blood vessels from damage and promote more effective blood circulation. The compound also helps break up plaque and other forms of buildup in your arteries.
4. Enhancing Cognitive Function
Grape seed extract is high in proanthocyanidins. These compounds actually help prevent cognitive decline and may actually boost your cognitive function. A study indicates that grape seed extract may be one of the most effective steps toward preventing cognitive loss due to aging.
5. Preventing Cancer
With the potency of antioxidants contained in grape seed extract, the natural compound has been shown to prevent the growth of several types of cancerous cells, including breast, stomach, colon, prostate, and lung, in test vials. However, research has been inconclusive whether the extract has the same effect in humans. One study has shown, though that the treatment is effective for treating skin cancer.
What the Experts Say
At present, experts have done a great deal of research on the effects of grape seed extract on the body. Studies show that the compounds found in the extract deliver a number of health benefits, including:
– A study showing the extract can relieve symptoms of venous insufficiency.
– Trials that the extract improves the strength of your blood vessels.
– A large randomized trial that shows the treatment is effective for reducing edema.
While some studies have shown positive results for using grape seed extract to treat a variety of conditions, others have been inconclusive. For example, a study promoted by the National Cancer Institute discovered that the extract did not prevent the hardening of breast tissue in conjunction with radiation treatment the way researchers would have expected. Nonetheless, the extract is accepted as an effective remedy and supplement for a variety of different health conditions.
How to Use Grape Seed Extract
Most people can tolerate the extract taken by mouth. The extract has been researched and found safe for use for up to 8 weeks in clinical trials. You can take grape seed as a dietary supplement in the form of capsules, tablets, or a liquid extract. Be sure to look for a product that contains 40 to 80% proanthocyanidins or an OPC content of at least 95%.
Continue reading below to find ways that our readers and contributors have used grape seed extract to benefit their health!