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BOTANICAL MEDICINE: GRAPE SEED

Submitted by on Wednesday, 8 April 2009No Comment

tom3Grape
Seeds Pack a Healthy ‘Punch’ of Proanthocyanidins

By
Victoria Dolby

Grapes. There’s
more to them than meets the eye. As a fruit, they are chock-full of
flavor and nutrition, but most of us spit out the part of the grape
that may be the most valuable to our health: the seeds.

Grape Seeds have an
abundant source of flavonoids, a large class of compounds found
naturally in many plants and foods. More specifically, grape seeds
are brimming over with a class of flavonoids called
Proanthocyanidins. Researchers in white lab coats have had lots of
good things to say about Proanthocyanidins over the past several
decades, but only recently has the good news reached a broad range of
people. But now that the word is out, grape seed extract (and the
powerful Proanthocyanidins it contains) has quickly become a welcome
addition to the antioxidant arsenal.

Move
over Vitamin E, there’s a new antioxidant in town

Free radicals, the
chemical marauders that lurk in air pollution, tobacco smoke, rancid
fats, and even produced by the body during normal metabolism, have
been linked to over 650 different degenerative diseases. Clearly,
antioxidants – which neutralize free radicals before they can
irreparably harm the body – play an important role in
preserving health.

So far, the research
documenting the antioxidant capability of grape seed extract is
impressive. In one study, an extract from grape seed was compared to
the “gold standard” of antioxidants: Vitamin E. Grape
seed extract came through with flying colors. In fact, in some
circumstances, the antioxidant potential of grape seed extract
surpassed that of Vitamin E.

Perhaps even more
important that its sheer power as an antioxidant is how grape seed
extract interacts with other components of the body’s
antioxidant defenses. The Proanthocyanidins found in grape seed
extract help other antioxidants regenerate after neutralizing free
radicals, allowing them to continue the antioxidant fight.

Also, since
Proanthocyanidins are water-soluble, they are easily absorbed by the
body and transported throughout the bloodstream. Proanthocyanidins
are even able to cross the blood-brain barrier to protect delicate
brain and nerve tissues.

Spectacular
seeds for cancer prevention, smooth skin, and more

Because
of their antioxidant capabilities, Proanthocyanidins may protect the
body from cancer. Support for this is found in France, where a
majority of the population traditionally consumes a high-fat diet and
drinks an abundance of red wine. Despite a high intake of fatty
foods, the French have a surprisingly low risk for many diseases that
would be expected to result from such a diet. This may be attributed
to the high intake of flavonoids via the red wine, which neutralizes
free radicals before they can cause genetic mutations and cancerous
changes to cells.

Edema, the abnormal
accumulation of fluid in the body’s tissues, often results from
capillary malfunctions. Proanthocyanidins extracted from grape seeds
may help prevent edema by stabilizing the capillary walls and
preventing abnormal capillary permeability. These compounds may be
beneficial in the prevention of high blood pressure, heart disease,
and even provide relief from fibrocystic breast disease. The
anti-edema properties of Proanthocyanidins may also be very useful in
combating some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Grape seed extracts
may also help alleviate symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. A
double-blind study of 50 patients with this circulatory disorder
found that grape seed extract quickly and effectively relieved their
symptoms. In related functions, Proanthocyanidins may help treat
varicose veins; Proanthocyanidins also protect the skin’s
collagen and elastin from free radicals which would otherwise degrade
them and rob the skin of its smoothness and elasticity.

It seems clear that
this extract is an excellent complement to any lifestyle. Grape seed
extract boosts the body’s antioxidative defenses and disease
fighting potential to help support a long and healthy life.

References

Mallet,
P., “Free Radical Scavenging Action and Antienzyme Activities
of Proanthocyanidins from
Vitis vinifera. A Mechanism for
Their Capillary Protective Action.”
Arzneimittel-Forschung
44:592-601, May 1994.

Zafirov,
D., “Antioxidative and Capillaritonic Effects of
Proanthocyanidins Isolated from Grape Seeds (
V. vinifera),”
Acta Physiologica et Pharmacologica Bulgarica 16 (3): 50-54,
1990.

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