Grape Seed Extract: A Health-Boosting Secret Found in Grapes

grape seeds

Story at-a-glance -

  • Grape seed extract is a substance derived from the seeds of red wine grapes. Research indicates that consuming it may help promote your health in various ways
  • Discover what areas it may help you with, and whether eating actual grape seeds could be more beneficial than taking grape seed extract

Grapes are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S. In 2016 alone, statistics indicate that consumption was 8.1 pounds per capita.1 Consumed raw, grapes have a sweet, yet slightly tart flavor that many people enjoy. Whenever grapes are eaten, most people throw away the seeds. But did you know that those discarded remains may actually be one of the healthiest parts of the plant? Research suggests that extracts taken from grape seeds may potentially benefit your health.

What Is Grape Seed Extract?

As the name implies, grape seed extract is a substance derived from seeds of  red wine grapes.2 Commonly sold as a supplement, this  extract can be taken in different forms, such as liquid, tablets or capsules. Fairly new to the U.S., grape seed extract is quickly becoming well-known due to  recently published research. Evidence suggests that grape seed extract contains antioxidants and other compounds that may optimize your health.

Studies Regarding the Benefits of Grape Seed Extract

Researchers have discovered that grape seed extract contains powerful antioxidants that may be beneficial to your health, particularly oligomeric proanthocyanidin  complexes (OPCs). According to Alternative Medicine Review, OPCs are not just antioxidants, but they also possess the following properties:3

Antibacterial

Antiviral

Anti-carcinogenic

Anti-inflammatory

Anti-allergic

Vasodilatory actions

One of the notable benefits associated with grape seed extract is its ability to help curb high blood pressure. In a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers noted that those who consumed 300 milligrams of grape seed extract twice daily for six weeks had significantly reduced systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. In addition, fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity improved.4

Additional research has shown that grape seed extract may help in the following capacities:5

  • Bone strength: A study has found that a mixture of calcium and grape seed extract had a beneficial effect on bone formation and strength for the treatment of bone debility caused by low levels of calcium among participating Wistar rats.6
  • Yeast control: Research indicates that grape seed extract can help control Candida albicans, a yeast strain commonly associated with vaginal candidiasis and mucosal infection.7
  • Cognitive function: According to a study published in Experimental Gerontology, grape seed extract was found to help lower oxidative stress in the brain, thanks to its proanthocyanidin content.8
  • Diabetes: In one study, diabetic male Wistar rats who were given grape seed extract along with exercise exhibited reduced body weight, high-density lipoproteins, heart rate and systolic blood pressure.9
  • Edema: Taking grape seed extract may help reduce swelling (edema) after a period of prolonged sitting, as suggested in a study published in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.10 In another study, researchers noted that grape seed extract slightly helped reduce breast induration in women compared to those who took a placebo.11

Grape seed extract may also help reduce your risk of developing cancerous skin tumors. According to a study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, supplementation of proanthocyanidins from grape seeds exhibited a decrease of ultraviolet-induced skin tumor development in SKH-1 hairless mice. Researchers believe that the antioxidants work by helping reduce oxidative stress in the body, among other beneficial processes.12

Possible Side Effects of Grape Seed Extract Supplements

Currently, there are no reported side effects of grape seed extract that may severely affect your health. However, it may cause some uncomfortable issues, such as:13,14

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Itchy scalp
  • Stomach ache

Furthermore, you should avoid grape seed extract supplements if you’re currently taking blood thinners (anticoagulants). According to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, grape seed extract may increase the risk of bleeding while taking medicines such as warfarin, aspirin or clopidogrel.15

Pregnant and breastfeeding women must avoid taking grape seed extract supplements, as there is currently little information available regarding its safety for these demographics. If you fall under either group, avoid grape seed extract for your and your baby’s safety.16

Feasting on Grapes May Not Provide the Same Effect as Grape Seed Extract

While published data suggests that supplementation of grape seed extract may benefit your health, some people may opt for  a natural route by consuming grapes. However, to obtain these benefits, you would need to eat a lot of grapes, which  is not advisable as  the fruit is high in fructose. Too much sugar in your system can potentially harm your health in the long run.

As an alternative, you can  just consume the seeds, but be advised that they have a very bitter taste due to the various antioxidants present in them. If you do not like the taste of the seeds, you may opt for a high-quality grape seed extract supplement instead.

Frequently Asked Questions About Grape Seed Extract

Q: What is grape seed extract good for?

A: Research indicates that grape seed extract can play a role in helping curb high blood pressure, as well as assisting with wound healing, bone strength and oral health.

Q: Where can you buy grape seed extract?

A: Grape seed extract can be conveniently purchased online. However, it’s more important to look into the quality of the ingredients used, and if the company follows ethical business practices to create a top-notch product that is safe to consume.