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Six thousand years ago, the Egyptians recognized the healing power of grapes although they didn’t fully understand why the fruit is so beneficial. Today, we now know how grape seed extract benefits work to naturally lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Grape seed extract contains a high percentage of compounds called oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs for short). OPCs from grape seed extract are flavonoids that have been well-known for some time as potent antioxidants that promote blood vessel strength and optimal eye health. More recently, however, researchers have discovered two new roles for OPCs: lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Grape Seed Extract Benefits for High Cholesterol
Oxidized LDL particles play a key role in the formation of arterial plaques and the development of atherosclerosis. Grape seed extract decreased oxidized LDL particles in addition to lowering total and LDL cholesterol in a recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Fifty-two individuals with mildly high cholesterol were divided into two groups that received either 200 mg/day of grape seed extract or placebo for 8 weeks. The grape seed extract significantly reduced total cholesterol by an average of 10.7 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol by an average of 9.7 mg/dL, and oxidized LDL by an average of 5.5 mg/dL. While triglyceride and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were decreased and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was increased by the grape seed extract, the changes were not statistically significant. The study authors concluded that grape seed extract lowers the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disorders in people with mild cholesterol abnormalities.
Grape Seed Extract Benefits for High Blood Pressure
When taken as a supplement, GSE has also been shown to significantly lower blood pressure, in some small studies. Two studies performed at the University of California Davis, one in people with metabolic syndrome and one in people with prehypertension, both found that grape seed extract lowers both systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) blood pressure. In the first study, 300 mg per day of grape seed extract (MegaNatural BP by Polyphenolics—a patented extract) lowered both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures compared to placebo in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Those in the grape seed extract group experienced average blood pressure reductions of 12 mmHg systolic and 8 mmHg diastolic while those in the placebo group saw no changes. The grape seed extract also decreased the oxidation of LDL particles, lowering the subjects’ risk of atherosclerosis. In the second study, 32 participants with prehypertension (systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg) were randomly assigned to receive grape seed extract (300 mg per day) or placebo for eight weeks. Participants who took the grape seed extract reduced their systolic blood pressure by an average of 8 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg. The blood pressure of those in the placebo group did not change.
How to Use Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is one of the most powerful antioxidants yet discovered. To take advantage of this natural compound for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, look for grape (vitis vinifera) seed extract, standardized to contain at least 92%-95% polyphenols (including OPCs). The proper grape seed extract dosage is to take 300 mg once a day or split the dose. Take the grape seed supplement for a full 12 weeks to get optimal results. Grape seed extract is not associated with side effects and there are no reported interactions between grape seed extract and any medications or supplements.
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Originally published in 2013, this post is regularly updated by the editors of University Health News.