Most people understand that eating grapes gives us some unique health benefits. Those benefits and more are seen in greater measure when you take a concentrated form of grape seed extract (Vitis vinifera) 1. That natural substance often comes from grapes provided by wine manufacturers.
What are the Health Benefits?
Using grapes for medicinal purposes is nothing new. In fact, whole or parts of grapes have been used for thousands of years. It may even go as far back as the ancient Egyptians.
In ancient times, they weren't aware of why grape seed extract was beneficial but today we know that they contain an antioxidant known as oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC). That compound may be beneficial for various health conditions. According to some scientific research, it may help reduce high stress due to glare or to improve blood circulation in the legs.
For alternate medicine, grape seed extract is used for additional conditions, including the following:
- High cholesterol
- Improved athletic performance
- Heart disease
- Poor circulation
- Menopause symptoms
- Complications due to diabetes
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Age-related macular degeneration
There are not many scientific studies to support the benefits of using grape seed extract. Therefore, it is unknown if it helps with any of those conditions.
Some of the research on grape seed extract has shown benefits in the following ways:
Cancer: Some experts claim that grape seed extract helps to prevent cancer. Laboratory studies have been done that demonstrate the ability of grape seed extract to fight free radicals that can damage DNA and lead to cancer. More research needs to be done to see if it can limit the growth of cancer in humans.
Diabetes-related Complications: 32 individuals with type II diabetes were studied in 20092. Those participants had a higher risk of cardiovascular issues and they took 600 mg of grape seed extract or a placebo daily for 4 weeks. The results of the study showed that the group that took the grape seed extract had improved markers for glycemia and inflammation. This may suggest that using grape seed extract can help to decrease the risk for cardiovascular issues.
High Blood Pressure: Individuals with metabolic syndrome were involved in a 2009 study that lasted for four weeks3. The participants were treated with grape seed extract and they showed marked improvement in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
A number of health problems are associated with metabolic syndrome, including excess belly fat, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and inflammation. Those issues can raise the risk of both type II diabetes and heart disease.
Alzheimer's Disease: According to some studies, grape seed extract may delay the development of Alzheimer's disease. That 2009 study found that using grape seed extract can reduce inflammation and prevent substances that could lead to brain plaque from forming and accumulating4.
1. Grape Seed. Penn State Hershey. Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Health Information Library
2. Effects of grape seed extract in Type 2 diabetic subjects at high cardiovascular risk: a double blind randomized placebo controlled trial examining metabolic markers, vascular tone, inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin sensitivity, 2009 May;26(5):526-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2009.02727.x.
3. Effect of grape seed extract on blood pressure in subjects with the metabolic syndrome., 2009 Dec;58(12):1743-6. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2009.05.030. Epub 2009 Jul 15
4. Consumption of grape seed extract prevents amyloid-beta deposition and attenuates inflammation in brain of an Alzheimer's disease mouse., 2009 Jan;15(1):3-14. doi: 10.1007/s12640-009-9000-x. Epub 2009 Feb 10