The Health Benefits of Grape Seed Extract
There's been growing awareness in recent years of the health benefits of vitus vinifera, the seeds of red wine grapes. They contain antioxidants known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), which may offer important health-protective properties, including helping you to maintain better overall cardiovascular health.
Grape Seed Extract and Heart Health
"The OPCs in grape seed extracts can help lower LDL—the 'bad' cholesterol—and relax blood vessels," says Kathy Gruver, PhD, Host of TV's The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and author of the book of the same name. "They also stabilize the walls of the blood vessels, which is why it's useful for circulatory and varicose vein issues."
Also, OPCs help maintain the health of the capillaries, which must be permeable enough to deliver needed nutrients, but strong enough to prevent leakage thus causing edema, she explains.
Beyond the Heart Health Benefits of Grape Seed Extract
There are more benefits of grape seed extract. It's been used to:
- Reduce eye strain
- Treat varicose veins and hemorrhoids
- Slow down the aging process
- Treat Parkinson's disease Alzheimer's disease
- Treat gastrointestinal disorders and colorectal cancer
- Heal burns and wounds
"There is some great research that shows that grape seed extract may even be more effective than conventional treatments in cancer," Gruver says. "At this point the studies are still too few to draw solid conclusions, but the cancer research is looking incredibly promising."
What You Need to Know Before You Buy Grape Seed Extract Supplements
You can find grape seed extract in tablet or capsule form in most health food stores or you can order it online from many health retailers.
"For any supplement, I recommend going to a reputable health store and finding a well-known brand. Cheaper is definitely not better when it comes to supplements," says Gruver.
While most people take between 75mg and 300mg of this extract, it's important to check with your doctor to find out the best dose for your situation.
Side Effects of Grape Seed Extract
Many people can tolerate grape seed extract without any ill effect, but it can occasionally cause eadache, nausea, dizziness, or an itchy scalp. In addition, grape seed extract can interfere with certain prescription drugs so check with your doctor or pharmacist. It's also worth noting that this supplement hasn't been proven safe for women who are pregnant or nursing.
Gruver, Kathy, PhD. Host of TV's The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. Email interview, 13 April 2013.
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