There are many reasons to love grapes. Not only are they delicious when fresh, but they are also great as jam, wine, vinegar, and dried as a raisin. While the flesh of the grape is delicious, the bitter crunchy seeds aren’t quite as appetizing which is why most grapes found in grocery stores are seedless. But did you know that grape seeds are nutritional powerhouses?
Grape seeds (and the extracts from them) are very special thanks to Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes which we will call OPCs for simplicity’s sake. These OPCs have powerful antioxidant properties. The antioxidant activity of OPCs makes grape seed extract (commonly called GSE) a popular product in both the health and beauty industries. GSE also contains beneficial vitamin E, flavonoids, and other polyphenols. All together, these components can help combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body and on the skin, which is why it’s found in many skin care products.
In this article we will be focusing on the positive health benefits that grape seed extract can have inside the body. While we could include a number of benefits in this list we are going to focus it a little bit. In particular, we will be covering the cardiovascular health benefits of GSE because the heart is important for...well...just about everything!
1. Grape Seed Extract Supports Healthy Blood Pressure Levels
The prevalence of high blood pressure has been increasing and many researchers have conducted studies on how to combat this dangerous health issue. A meta-analysis looked at twelve articles involving 16 clinical trials that tested the impact that grape seed extract could have on blood pressure. They concluded that a supplement of GSE significantly lowered systolic blood pressure especially in younger or obese patients. GSE is also beneficial for those with a healthy blood pressure, because when combined with healthy diet and lifestyle it can protect the integrity of blood vessels and support healthy blood flow.
2. Grape Seed Extract Supports Healthy Cholesterol Levels
A known risk factor for heart disease is an elevated level of “bad” LDL cholesterol. The flavonoids in GSE are believed to lower bad cholesterol in our body. This 12-week study put GSE to the test by giving participants either a tablet containing 200 or 400 mg of the extract. A third group was given a placebo. Results suggested that the tablets containing the GSE had reducing effects on LDL cholesterol. This research supports the idea that when combined with a healthy lifestyle, GSE could be helpful in preventing atherosclerosis.
3. Grape Seed Extract Supports Brain Function
What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain. Just as we need healthy blood flow to the heart, we also need healthy blood flow to the brain for proper neurological functioning. Studies of GSE’s effects on brain health show potential in preventing cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are characterized by “the accumulation of protein aggregates in an amyloid fibrillar form.” This study showed that gallic acid found in grape seed extract “effectively inhibited fibril formation.”
Grape seed extract is a supplement with potent antioxidant activity that can help support a healthy life without negative side effects. By using a GSE supplement combined with healthy diet and lifestyle, you can reap the benefits of a better cardiovascular system and brain.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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