Why Eat Grape Seeds?
There are few more popular fruits around the world than grapes but while many people enjoy the fruit, they also neglect one of their healthiest features. I am talking about the seeds that most people spit out. Not only that but there is a growing market for seedless grapes that lack the seeds entirely.
This is significant because grape seeds contain very powerful antioxidants and also plant compounds known as oligomeric proanthocyanidin complex or OPCs for short.
OPCs are best known for their excellent antoxidant activities meaning that grape seeds can help protect your body from harmful free radicals. This can reduce the risk of many serious diseases and protect your body from aging prematurely. Apart from their antioxidant properties, the OPCs found in grape seeds have a wide range of other benefits for the human body.
Grape seed extract is increasingly popular and appears to aid in the treatment of a host of different health issues all over the body. These days, grape seed extract is widely used as a natural remedy for heart complaints like atherosclerosis and complications like hypertension, high cholesterol levels and poor circulation.
It is also used for complications linked with diabetes such as nerve damage, macular degeneration and other eye complaints.
Other uses of grape seed extract are to reduce inflammation following surgery or injury, wound healing and cancer prevention.
Grape seed extract owes the majority of its therapeutic powers to the OPCs that we have already mentioned. Not only do they contain excellent antioxidant abilities but they also have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory activities.
If that was not enough, studies have also found the OPCs in grape seeds are anti-allergic and have anti-cancer and vasodilatary actions. The same study found that OPCs inhibited lipid peroxidation, capillary permeability and platelet aggregation making it useful for a variety of conditions that we will look at later in the article. (1)
As we will see later, studies have also revealed that grape seed extract may have applications against cancer. Small wonder that grape seed extract is becoming more and more popular.
The Health Benefits of Grape Seeds
1) Heart Health
Grape seeds and grape seed extract can have a beneficial effect on your heart in a number of different ways. They have vasodilatory properties which help make the arteries, capillaries and veins stronger and more flexible. This improves the circulation of blood to the heart and reduces the stress on your body’s most important organ.
The linoleic acid and various flavonoids contained in grape seeds and the extract help to protect the blood vessels against weakening and damage. This can have a very positive effect on blood pressure especially for those suffering from hypertension.
Studies have revealed that the ability of grape seed extracts to dilate the blood vessels helps to lower the blood pressure. One study showed that it helped those with pre-hypertension caused by metabolic syndrome.
Another recent study published in January 2016 showed that a drink made with grape seed extract helped to reduce blood pressure in patients suffering pre-hypertension. The study which involved 30 patients concluded that the treatment was a safe and effective method of controlling high blood pressure. (2)
2) Brain Health
While studies are at a very early stage, there is evidence that grape seed extract can help prevent cognitive decline and may even help protect against diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Studies done on animals have found that grape seed might help reverse brain dysfunction by reducing the amount of oxidative stress in the cells and preserving the function of the mitochondria. (3)
Another study suggested that grape seed could be a useful therapy and preventive agent for degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. (4)
3) Skin Health
The antioxidants in grape seeds can help give your skin a much needed treat. Antioxidants are important for a number of reasons and they are known to help protect the skin from the effects of aging. Grape seeds can help freshen up your complexion, replenish skin cells and prevent wrinkles and other blemishes.
According to several studies, the OPCs found in grape seeds may also have a role to play in the battle against cancer. One study suggests that they helped prevent prostate cancer from spreading while also causing the cancer cell death by apoptosois. (5) Other laboratory studies have been equally promising, They have found that grape seed extract might prevent a range of other cancers from developing including breast, lung and colon cancer.
5) Chronic Venous Insufficiency
The signs are good that grape seeds and the extract made from the seeds have a marked positive effect on chronic venous insufficiency. Studies have found that the vast majority of people who took OPC supplements experienced an improvement in their symptoms after around 10 days. The symptoms of the condition which improved included itching, pain and a feeling of heaviness.
6) Bone Health
Animal studies have demonstrated that grape seed extract could help improve bone health and strength and the formation of bones. While the indications are positive, whether or not grape seeds would have the same effect on humans is still unknown. (6)
7) Swelling and Edema
According to studies, grape seed extract can help reduce the risk of your legs swelling from prolonged periods of sitting, (7)
Edema is also common following surgery for breast cancer. One study found that patients who took a daily dose of 600 milligrams of grape seed extract experienced a reduction in pain and edema than the patients who only took a placebo.
Grape seed extract is also effective for sports people following injury. One study found that people who had suffered sporting injuries experienced less swelling compared with the placebo group.
Studies have revealed that when grape seed is taken along with an exercise and training regime, it helped improve many diabetes complications in rats. Grape seed extract taken with exercise led to improvements in blood pressure, weight loss and lipid profile better than when the extract was taken alone.
According to the researchers, a combination of training and grape seed extract supplementation might be a safe, effective and inexpensive method of treating complications resulting from diabetes. (8)
9) Oral Health
According to a study published in 2012 a solution of grape seed extract resulted in more remineralization and less demineralization of cavities. According to the researchers, it could help prevent or reverse tooth decay and play a significant role in your oral hygiene and health. (9)
How to Use Grape Seed
Grape seeds and extract are available in supplementary forms. As things stand, there is no recommended daily dose but most studies have used between 100 and 300 milligrams a day.
Most experts recommend standardized products with between 40 and 80% proanthocyanidins and an OPC level of at least 95%.
Is Eating the Whole Grape Effective?
You will get more value from your fruit if you do not spit out its seeds. However, there is no evidence that simply swallowing the seeds would have much of a therapeutic effect.
Basically, you would need to eat an enormous quantity of grapes to see the medicinal benefits of the extract used in the studies. This is not a great idea since grapes are very high in fructose.
You can also purchase whole grape seeds but they are extremely bitter and the majority of people find them unpalatable.