Powerful Antioxidant: Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract (GSE) is one of those powerful little supplements that more and more people are starting to turn to for multiple health benefits. First used in ancient Greece for its medicinal properties, it has been part of traditional treatments in Europe for thousands of years. GSE is made from the grape seeds, leaves and sap sourced by red wine producers. Its main virtue is that its one of the highest sources of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), which makes it a super antioxidant, 20x stronger than Vitamin C and 50x stronger than Vitamin E. Research studies have and continue to be done on GSE to prove its benefits, but I guarantee that by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll be convinced enough to at least give it a try.
The antioxidant present in GSE is called resveratrol and is key to protecting cells from free radical damage. Free radicals create a chain reaction of molecules steeling from other molecules due to the fact that they are incomplete electrons. This ultimately damages both cells and DNA, making both self-produced and dietary antioxidants necessary for good health. GSE’s high antiallergenic, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties makes it ideal for preventing and fighting viruses, bacteria infections, allergies and carcinogens, which I’ll discuss a bit more later.
Preventing free radical damage is an important element to staying young. GSE may reverse lines and wrinkles in the skin by strengthening collagen and elastin. It can also prevent macular degeneration, cataracts and problems caused by eye strain.
GSE’s OPC content has also been backed by studies suggesting its effectiveness with chronic venous insufficiency (varicose veins). It has also been shown to reduce risk of blood clot development when travelling long distances without movement. For this reason, GSE is a great supplement to take while flying to both prevent illness and blood clots.
GSE may also reduce high cholesterol. One study showed this to be particularly effective when GSE was mixed with chromium.
Cardiovascular Health and Diabetes
Some say GSE can help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing histamine production. Studies have also begun to show evidence that it may lower blood pressure. A study conducted in 2009 found GSE to be particularly helpful for type II diabetics who are particularly prone to cardiovascular disease by improving inflammation, glycaemia and oxidative stress. The study quoted that GSE "may have a therapeutic role in decreasing cardiovascular risk". Total cholesterol content was also noted to decrease in this study.
GSE has also been effective for reducing swelling associated with edema (an excessive accumulation of fluid in the cavities or tissues of the body) after surgery or injury. Those who suffer from PMS can also use GSE to reduce fluid retention and swelling. GSE may also be effective for arthritis.
Its been said that GPE can improve mental alertness. It also might be a great preventive or treatment measure for Alzheimer’s Disease, which effects nearly 4.5 million Americans. A study conducted on mice showed that GSE reduced cognitive deterioration by preventing amyloid plaques from forming in the brain, deposits which have been found on the brains of those with Alzheimer’s Disease.
First and foremost, the high antioxidant content of GSE makes it extremely helpful for preventing cancer. A number of studies have shown that antioxidants can trigger the death of cancer cells. A study published in Clinical Cancer Research in January, 2009 found that GSE killed laboratory leukemia cells. Other studies on mice and rats have shown GSE to reduce skin and breast tumors. Still another more recent study published in January, 2012 showed that GSE prevents the growth of cancer cells by damaging the cancer cells’ DNA, but still leaves the healthy cells unharmed.
Other potential benefits of GSE include the prevention of tooth decay, osteoporosis, and virus expression and replication in HIV persons. It also may help with constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders. Some even say it can stimulate hair growth.
GSE can be purchased either in liquid, powder or pill form. A standard suggested dosage is 300g/day.
 Mercola, J. (2009, May 14). How grapes protect your health. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/05/14/how-grapes-protect-your-heart.aspx
 May, L. (2010, July 19). Grape seed extract offers many benefits. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/029223_grape_seed_extract_health.html#ixzz2DhKvIWWX
 Med.nyu.edu (No date). Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). Retrieved from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21765#ref18
 Pubmed.gov “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,” P. Kar, et. al. Diabetic medicine, May 2009:26(5):526-31 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19646193
 Nccam.nih.gov (No date). Grape seed extract may help prevent and treat alzheimer’s. Retrieved from
 Medicalnewstoday.com (2008, December 31). Grape seed extract kills cancer cells in lab. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/134311.php
 Sciencedaily.com (2012, January 27). Grape seed extract kills head and neck cancer cells, leaves healthy cells unharmed. Retrieved from
Kara wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Food & Nutrition.