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HEALTH ADVICE

5 Ways Grape Seeds Can Boost Your Health

John Gray

Grapes have been used for centuries to treat a number of different health conditions. The leaves of the vine were used to treat inflammation and pain, and the unripened grapes were used to soothe sore throats.

The seeds of grapes were largely ignored because little was known about their health benefits. The wine and juice industry still consider them a waste product because they don’t go into the finished drinks.

However, grape seeds contain a vast array of healthy ingredients, such as protein, lipids, carbohydrates and polyphenols (which come mainly in the form of flavonoids, also known as bioflavonoids). The term flavonoid is used for a class of plant chemicals known for their activity as highly potent antioxidants, and therefore for their capability in protecting the body against oxidative and free radical damage.

Free radicals can develop as a result of sun damage, pollution, cigarette smoke and even stress. A free radical is an atom that has at least one unpaired electron and is therefore unstable and highly reactive. To make up for this empty slot, the free radical will try to steal an electron from a healthy cell in your body. When this happens, it sets off a chain reaction because the healthy cell that was stolen from is now a damaged cell and it looks to steal an electron from another cell. This leaves behind a chain of damaged molecules, and the body’s structure is now weakened.

Antioxidants protect healthy cells from unstable molecules that can cause damage to healthy cells on the skin and in the body. Two of the most famous antioxidants are vitamins E and vitamin C.

Grape seed extract is another.

Grape seed extract contains several plant compounds, including oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs. OPCs are powerful antioxidants, and the OPCs in grape seed extract contain 20 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E and 50 times the antioxidant power of vitamin C.

One important compound found in grape seeds is procyanidin. It was initially discovered in 1936 by Professor Jacques Masquelier, who called it Vitamin P, although the name didn’t really catch on.

Procyanidins are thought to protect the body from premature aging. Scientists think they do this by increasing vitamin C levels in the cells and scavenging for toxins so the organs can get rid of them.

Procyanidins also bond with collagen, the most abundant protein in the body and a key component of skin, gums, bones, teeth, hair and body tissues. This bonding promotes cell health and skin elasticity, making the skin seem more youthful. Procyanidins also help protect the skin from sun damage.


The Health Benefits of Grape Seed Extract

The more research that emerges on grape seeds, the more it becomes clear they have wide-reaching health benefits.


High Blood Pressure

The antioxidants, including flavonoids, linoleic acid, and phenolic procyanidins, in grape seed extract help protect your blood vessels from damage, which may help prevent high blood pressure. Grape seed extract has previously been shown to help dilate blood vessels and was shown to lower blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome (most of whom also had prehypertension). Another study found that a grape seed extract beverage improved blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension, while a single dose of grape seed extract improved blood pressure in hypertensive rats.


High Cholesterol

Grape seed extract helps to strengthen blood vessels, by increasing the tone and elasticity of capillary walls. Results from human case reports and animal studies show that grape seed extract may be useful to treat heart diseases, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Grape seed extract slows down the oxidation of the fats that responsible for cholesterol. The longer it takes for fats to oxidize, the less likely they will clog up your veins and arteries.


Brain Function

Animal studies suggest grape seed extract may even be useful as a preventative or therapeutic agent in Alzheimer's disease. A 2009 study published in Neurotoxicity Research found that grape seed extract led to less inflammation of the brain, which may help to protect against Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine conducted experiments in mice with Alzheimer's disease to see if grape seeds could affect Alzheimer's disease-type cognitive deterioration. For 5 months, the mice received grape seed extract or water alone as a placebo treatment. The mice were then tested in various mazes to determine brain function. Brain tissue samples were also tested to see if there was evidence of Alzheimer's disease. The mice treated with grape seed extract had significantly reduced Alzheimer's disease-type cognitive deterioration compared to the other mice.



Healthy Skin

Research has shown that grape seed extract can protect the body from sun damage and premature wrinkles and pigment changes. A report published in the Journal of Medicinal Food claimed that grape seed extract benefits the skin's appearance by bonding with collagen to maintain skin cell health and the skin's elasticity.


Diabetes

In 2013, researchers discovered that combining grape seed extract along with exercise training improved lipid profile, weight loss, blood pressure and other diabetic complications better than either intervention administered alone. According to researchers, "This [grape seed extract and exercise training] may constitute a convenient and inexpensive therapeutic approach to diabetic complications.”


Swelling

Grape seed extract has been found to inhibit leg swelling that can occur during prolonged sitting. Swelling is also common after breast cancer surgery. One double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that breast cancer patients who took 600 mg of grape seed extract daily after surgery for six months had less swelling and pain than those who took placebo. Another study found that people who took grape seed extract after experiencing a sports injury had less swelling than those who took placebo.


Chronic Venous Insufficiency

The OPCs in grape seed extract may benefit this condition. About 80 percent of those who consumed OPCs had an improvement in symptoms after the first 10 days of treatment. Feelings of heaviness, itching, and pain were reduced significantly.


Bones and Joints

Grape seed extract has been shown to improve bone formation, bone strength and improve flexibility in the joints.


What To Do

If you enjoy snacking on seeded grapes, there's no reason to spit out the seeds anymore! However, to reach therapeutic quantities of grape seeds you'd need to eat a lot of grapes.

You could buy whole grape seeds but they're very bitter. If you're willing to get past the bitter taste, then whole grape seeds are an option.

If not, grape seed extract is available in supplement form. Grape seed extract is available in the form of liquid, capsules or tablets. For benefits to the skin, it can be taken internally or applied topically. There is no daily recommended amount at this time, but some studies used doses of between 100 to 300 milligrams/day.


FIND GRAPE SEED EXTRACT HERE

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