Grape Seed Extract – What Is It?

grape seed ExtractGrape Seed Extract is one of many ingredients in the Tikva product. As its name implies, grape seed extract is derived from the small seeds (and occasionally the skins) of red grapes–the same kind that are pressed to make wine. Used extensively in Europe, grape seed extract is rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties some consider even greater than the old standbys Vitamin C and vitamin E. Antioxidants are believed to prevent and control numerous ailments by safeguarding cells against the ravages of unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals .

The most valuable flavonoids in grape seed extract are procyanidolic oligomers (also known as proanthocyanidins), commonly called OPCs. Beyond their antioxidant powers, OPCs are thought to improve blood circulation and help strengthen blood vessels. These actions benefit people with heart disease.

Grape Seed Extract Health Benefits

Prevent heart disease

grape seed antioxidantThe risk for heart attack and stroke may be reduced with this potent antioxidant, which is believed to prevent the plaque development that can clog arteries. A recent study of 38 smokers indicates that OPCs may function as effectively as aspirin in keeping blood cells from sticking together and forming blood clots (called an anticoagulant effect). And the OPCs posed no risk of the gastrointestinal irritation or bleeding generally associated with aspirin. Interestingly, another preliminary study using grape seed oil (which is related to grape seed extract) indicates that using 2 tablespoons a day to replace other oils in cooking could increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol by 14% and reduce triglycerides by 15% in just four weeks.

Antioxidants, such as grape seed, help protect blood vessels from damage. Damaged blood vessels can lead to an increased demand on the heart. In several animal studies, a grape seed extract substantially reduced blood pressure.

-University of Maryland Medical Center

metabolic syndromeConducted by UC Davis cardiovascular researchers, the study was the first human clinical trial to assess the effect of grape seed extract on people with metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that increase the risk for heart disease, including high blood pressure, excess abdominal body weight, high blood cholesterol fats and high blood sugar.

It is estimated that 40 percent of American adults, or 50 million people, have metabolic syndrome.

The one-month study involved 24 male and female patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. The patients were divided into three groups of eight. The first group received a placebo, while the second and third groups received 150 milligrams and 300 milligrams, respectively, of a new grape seed extract. All participants’ blood pressure was automatically measured and recorded for 12 hours after ingestion.

“Participants in the two groups receiving grape seed extract experienced an equal degree of reduced blood pressure. The average drop in systolic pressure was 12 millimeters. The average drop in diastolic pressure was 8 millimeters,” said the study’s lead researcher, C. Tissa Kappagoda, professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of the Preventive Cardiology Program at UC Davis.

-UC Davis Health Systems

High Cholesterol

A study tested the effects of a patented grape seed extract on lipid peroxidation (which aids in the formation of “bad” cholesterol) in a group of heavy smokers. Twenty-four healthy male smokers, (aged 50 years or greater) were given either placebo or 2 capsules (75 mg of a grape procyanidin extracts and soy-phosphatidalcholine), twice daily for 4 weeks. “Bad” cholesterol levels (low density lipoprotein or LDL) were lower in those taking the grape seed supplement than those on placebo. The authors concluded that grape seed extract may help prevent cholesterol oxidation and further damage to the cardiovascular system in people who smoke.

-University of Maryland Medical Center

Free Radicals

brainProanthocyanidins (OPCs) are the main active ingredients in grape seed extract that go after “molecular sharks” otherwise known as free radicals. They make up about 90% of grape seed extract. Various versions are all united by a similar chemical structure and possess powerful antioxidant activity 15—20 times stronger than that of vitamin E and 50 times stronger than that of vitamin C. The “super-antioxidant” effects are neatly summed up in a study showing that pretreatment with grape seed extract reduces DNA fragmentation in the brain by a whopping 50% and in the liver by 47% after exposure to a strong chemical.

-Life Extension

Protects the brain

This research from the University of Alabama shows that grape seed extract normalizes 13 different brain proteins back to youthful levels. Undesirable proteins that impede the brain’s ability to make new cells are reduced. (New brain cells are made in certain areas of the brain throughout the human life span. For more information, see “ Reinventing the Brain ,” Life Extension , August 2000.) A protein that makes a type of scar tissue in the brain is also reduced, potentially helping the brain recover from injuries like stroke. The same protein also shows up in certain types of brain tumors and in Alzheimer’s disease. Grape seed extract reduces these undesirable proteins, while at the same time increasing other proteins that are lost with age.

-Life Extension

Slow progression of macular degeneration and cataracts

Grape seed extract improves blood flow in the eye’s tiny vessels, where certain eye diseases can cause blockages and impairments that result in vision damage. Cataracts are an example. Grape Seed Extract’s antioxidant powers are of particular value in warding off the free-radical damage so frequently cited as the leading cause of macular degeneration.

Lessen allergy symptoms

As a natural antihistamine, grape seed extract may help to control the sneezing, congestion and other hallmarks of an allergic reaction. The extract also inhibits the release of chemicals called prostaglandins that can generate inflammation during an allergic response. Working in concert, the nutrient’s antihistamine and anti-inflammatory actions can help to keep at bay such allergic responses as hives, hay fever and eczema.

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