Grape Seed Extract and Resveratrol
You have probably heard about the health benefits of red wine and the studies that link red wine consumption to long life. What you may not know is that grape seed extract provides many of the same benefits. Grape seed extract has amazing antioxidant properties: it protects cells against damage caused by pesticides, food additives and pollution and may be your best defense against the effects of aging.
Recent studies have shown that air pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, contaminated water and even the food we eat can produce free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules that damage other cells. Excess free radicals cause oxidation, or oxidative damage, which can impair the proper functioning of the immune system, leading to infections, heart disease and other degenerative diseases. Although not a cure, antioxidants have even been shown to reduce the incidence of cancer.
Grape seed extract fights free radicals and the damage they cause. It can also protect DNA from oxidative damage and cell mutations that can lead to cancer. Until the discovery of grape seed extract, vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene were considered the best sources of antioxidants. However, these sources are not as powerful as grape seed extract and they are used or excreted shortly after entering the body.
Grape seed extract is more than a powerful antioxidant – it is an antiallergenic, an antihistamine and an anti-inflammatory. It also strengthens blood vessels, improves skin and supports circulation.
Grape seed extract could also play a significant role in weight management. In 2004, researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands studied the effects of grape seed extract on energy intake and satiety. The researchers gave 51 people grape seed twice a day (30 to 60 minutes before lunch and dinner) for three days. They found that the average calorie intake of those with normal or above average weight was reduced by four percent, with no noted side effects or changes in satiety.
The Power of OPCs
Grape seed extract gets its amazing antioxidant power from its high concentration of a group of complex substances known as oligometric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) or procyanidins. OPCs are found in grape seeds and grape skin; blue, red and purple fruits such as plums, blue berries and cherries; and the bark of the maritime pine tree.
OPCs fight free radicals and oxidative stress in many ways. They also conserve and regenerate vitamins C and E: OPCs work synergistically with vitamin C to regenerate vitamin E (Vitamin E is a powerful free radical scavenger, but it is quickly used up), and these three nutrients then work together to fight off free radicals.