Although you probably buy seedless grapes to eat, the seeds are actually extremely sought after in the beauty and health world. Why? Grape seed extract, commonly referred to as GSE, contains powerful health benefits. This is why it’s been showing up in nutritional supplements, skincare and beauty products.
What’s so great about those tiny seeds? One word: proanthocyanidins—a type of polyphenol with amazing antioxidant properties.1 Grape seed extract happens to be chock full of them.
Sure, you’ve probably had your share of the fruit, be it as juice, jam, jelly, wine, vinegar, or raisins. But, the seeds of a grape contain a powerfully healthy oil. Yes, there are more reasons to love grapes—because of the many beauty and health benefits.
Where Does It Come From?
The seeds inside grapes used to be considered the worthless by-product of wine production. In the past, they were thrown out as waste. Come to find out, the seeds are extremely valuable. Instead of getting rid of them, grape seeds are in demand to create the extract. Because, let’s face it, eating fruit seeds is not enjoyable and it’s difficult for the body to digest.
Grapes, also called Vitis Vinifera in Latin, are a species of the fruiting berries of the vines of Vitis.2 Like any liana (a type of vine), grape vines are long-stemmed, woody and rooted from the ground. They have the uncanny ability to work their way up using anything it can grab onto in order to climb to sun-kissed spaces. The fruits are oval-shaped berries that turn darker colored when they ripen. Grapes can be red, green or white, and sometimes black.3 Since they usually thrive under humid, temperate or tropical climate, grapes are native to Asia near the Caspian Sea.4 With the popularity of wine, the cultivation of grapes have spread to many other parts of the world.
This fruit has been useful to humans even as early as the Neolithic period.5 Grapes were cultivated for its nutritional and medicinal properties. The Ancient Greeks cultivated the fruit to make wine, which they hailed for its healing qualities.6 European folk healers extracted the sap from grapevines and used them to treat skin and eye infections. They used the leaves of the vine to treat hemorrhoids, pain, and inflammations.7 European folk healers also used the unripe grapes to cure soreness of their throats and treated constipation and excessive thirst with dried grapes (raisins) and water.8
Why Is It Healthy?
Grape seed extract is composed of a complex mixture of flavonoids, Vitamin E, linoleic acid, and phenolic procyanidins.9 These compounds can also be found in the skins and juices of the fruit. The active agents of extract are mostly polyphenols or OPCs (oligomeric procyanidins), which is usually the commercial reason why grape seeds are being extracted. Proanthocyanidins and catechins are the potent antioxidants in grape seeds that are believed to be 20 times greater than vitamin E and 50 times greater than vitamin C.10
What Are The Benefits Of Grape Seed Extract?
OPCs (Oligomeric Procyanidins) are a class of polyphenols. They are commonly found in grape seeds, berries, and other plants. According to many doctors and nutritionists, include Dr. Steven Gundry, polyphenols are the most important nutrients your body needs. Why? Because researchers in the medicinal world keep proving how polyphenols are responsible for the antioxidant, free-radical scavenging properties of GSE.11
1. Radical Scavenging Properties
These polyphenols are believed to be effective in neutralizing singlet oxygen radicals that contribute to inflammations in your body.12 They also aid in improving Vitamin C activity, protecting you from bacteria, viruses and other chronic illnesses.13
2. Reduces Risk Of Clogged Arteries
Although it’s not advocated by all health organizations, the famous “French Paradox” states how the French are protected from the risks of heart disease for drinking wine. However, it’s the flavonoids (the most common group of polyphenolic compounds) in grapes that positively affect your body and not the alcohol in wines. Flavonoids are believed to lower the bad cholesterol in your body.14
3. Helps Control Blood Pressure
More research on grape seed extract’s medicinal properties keeps piling up as researchers discover ways to control hypertension. Studies revealed the relatively high concentrations of oligomeric procyanidins (class of flavonoids) in grape seed extract caused the relaxation of arteries, and blood vessels, thereby controlling blood pressure.15
4. Aids in Reducing Edema
Grape seed extract apparently aids in reducing the swelling (edema) caused by injuries and surgical operations. Studies revealed how patients who went through surgery and took grape seed extract showed very little signs of swelling. Researchers also found links between GSE and inhibiting the growth of tumors.16
5. Aids Other Conditions
There are other ways in which grape seed extract can benefit you. If you have diabetes, you might find grape seed extract useful. It’s purported to aid in controlling blood sugar levels.17 Other conditions it may be helpful in are hemorrhoids and more.18
Did you know that among all the benefits above, grape seed extract also improves the health of your skin? It has light, small molecules that are easily absorbed by the skin.19 That’s right: topical application of grape seed extract allows it to take effect quickly and efficiently. GSE acts as an alpha hydroxy acid (compounds used in skincare preparations due to its exfoliating properties), so it can improve your skin in various ways.20
7. Improves Skin’s Elasticity
Polyphenols are also known to be excellent binders of collagen fibers, improving the condition of connective tissues, and overall maintaining the elasticity of your skin, joints, arteries, and other connective tissues.21
8. Boosts Wound Healing
The alpha hydroxy acid in grape seed extract improves the moisture barrier of your skin cells. This helps cells to retain moisture for a fresh, dewy appearance. Consequently, applying topical cream with GSE makes the wounds heal faster and scars can be reduced.22
9. Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial and Antifungal Properties
The seeds also contains a compound called resveratrol.23 Resveratrol is praised for its anti-inflammatory properties, which makes GSE a great help in reducing swelling caused by dermatitis, infections, cuts, and excessive exposure to the sun’s rays. Additionally, it exhibits antibacterial and antifungal properties.23
The Best Way to Supplement with GSE
To enjoy the maximum benefits of GSE, follow these guidelines:24
1. When buying GSE supplement, read the label carefully and make sure it contains 80 percent proanthocyanidins. This level guarantees the supplement will stimulate body activities that will result in antioxidant behavior.
2. Take GSE supplement with other vitamins or supplements because it works well with other natural supplements and vitamins. For instance, Vitamin C and Vitamin E improve the absorption of grape seed extract. Also, Vitamin E’s healthy and beauty benefits boost when taken with antioxidants.
3. The recommended daily dose of GSE for adults is 150 to 300mg per day. Consume the dose on a regular basis so your body can adapt to its regular absorption.
Grape Seed Extract, 100% natural and safe, is good news for its health and beauty boosting properties. And in this day and age, when more and more people are looking for natural treatments and preventative care, GSE is more popular than ever.
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20 Ganceviciene R, Liakou A, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis C. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-Endocrinology. 2012;4(3):308-319. doi:10.4161/derm.22804.
21 Wagner H. Grape Seed Extract Help Speed Up Wound Recovery, Study Suggests. Researchnewsosuedu. 2002. Accessed November 7, 2016.
22 Benefit of Grape Seed Extract. Benefits-of-resveratrolcom. 2016. Accessed November 7, 2016.
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24 How to Best Absorb Grapeseed Extract. wikiHow. 2016. Accessed November 7, 2016.