We like to think of the odd glass of red wine as medicinal, but did you know that grape seeds themselves have some surprising health benefits?
It’s true that grapes have a whole host of health benefits – they’re packed with vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients. Plus, the skin from red grapes is a rich source of resveratrol, which is known to help support heart health.
But scientists say we might be discarding one of the most nutritious elements: the seeds. Ground and concentrated into grapeseed extract, evidence shows they could fend off free radicals, support eye health and help us maintain healthy blood vessels.
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A powerful antioxidant
Antioxidants are plant chemicals that help stop free radicals or ‘oxidants’ – harmful molecules thought to contribute to ageing and age-related illnesses like heart disease – from damaging our DNA. And grape seeds are packed with antioxidant compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs).
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According to US researchers, OPCs may have a superior antioxidant effect compared with more well-known antioxidants including vitamins C and E.1 In a small 1998 study, researchers from the University of Birmingham found that 20 healthy volunteers who took 300mg of grapeseed extract every day increased their blood antioxidant activity within five days.2
Protect your eye health
The antioxidants found in grape seeds may be particularly good at protecting our eyes from the damage wrought by free radicals. In a Korean laboratory study published in Current Eye Research in 2012, grapeseed extract was found to be able to ‘rescue’ retinal cells from oxidative damage.3
More grape seed benefits
Grape seed antioxidants may also help support our heart health. In a 2004 clinical trial of 36 people at high risk of heart disease, Australian researchers discovered taking 2g of grapeseed extract every day for four weeks improved blood flow compared with placebo.4
A review of nine trials by Yale School of Medicine in 2011 concluded that ‘grape seed extract appears to significantly lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate’.5
Ward off varicose veins
There’s good news for those with varicose veins too – grape seed extract helps relieve the symptoms of pain, burning, tingling and swelling.6 In one double-blind study (when neither the participants nor experimenters know who is receiving treatment) using 150mg, French researchers reported reduced symptoms for women with varicose veins, while 65% were symptom-free by the time the study ended.7
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
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1. Bagchi D, et al. Molecular mechanisms of cardioprotection by a novel grape seed proanthocyanidin extract. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12628506
2. Nuttall SL, et al. An evaluation of the antioxidant activity of a standardized grape seed extract, Leucoselect. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9875688
3. Yang H, et al. Protective effect of grape seed extract against oxidative stress-induced cell death in a staurosporine-differentiated retinal ganglion cell line. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22440165
4. Clifton PM. Effect of Grape Seed Extract and Quercetin on Cardiovascular and Endothelial Parameters in High-Risk Subjects. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15577189
5. Feringa HH, et al. The effect of grape seed extract on cardiovascular risk markers: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21802563
6. University of Michigan Health Library: chronic venous insufficiency. Available from: http://www.uofmhealth.org/node/661313
7. Delacroix P. Etude en Double Aveugle de l’Endotelon dans l’Insuffisance Veineuse Chronique. Available from : http://www.uofmhealth.org/node/661313