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Heart health should be important to the average American, as a quarter of all deaths in the United States are due to heart disease. The science-backed heart and cardiovascular benefits of grape seed extract could be a great way to support a healthy ticker at any age.
Grape seed extract (GSE) is a potent dietary supplement that has been tested in blood pressure studies, insulin sensitivity studies, and more…
GSE promotes a healthy cardiovascular system through its antioxidant and blood-thinning properties. This cost-effective alternative medicine is one worth a look, even from traditional practitioners.
What is grape seed extract?
Derived from the vitis vinifera (common grapevine), GSE is produced by removing, drying, and pulverizing the natural seeds of a grape into powdered form.
Grape seed extract is a versatile dietary supplement that actually works closer in practice to green tea powder than to resveratrol (a compound derived from red wine grapes). Aside from its characteristic heart health benefits, grape seed extract may even help with weight loss and leg swelling.
Ancient Greeks historically used the grape skin, leaves, and seeds for medicinal purposes. They had no way of understanding the scientific mechanisms behind these natural remedies, but clearly saw the measurable results.
That’s because the potency and effects of grape seed extract depend on the concentration of procyanidins. Procyanidins come from flavonoids called oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (or OPC for short). These flavonoids are a byproduct of polyphenols.
Polyphenols and other phytonutrients help to keep plants healthy but also exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because phenolic compounds and flavonoids give plant life its vivid coloring, they have been used for centuries in dyes, tanning leather, and in medicine for their natural ability to heal.
Grape seed extract boasts its heart health benefits from a specific set of natural chemicals, which remain effective once absorbed into your body. Its impact isn’t limited just to the first several hours after consumption.
6 Cardiovascular Benefits of Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is an excellent anti-inflammatory and an effective blood thinner. These two features of grape seed extract have shown positive, protective results on the cardiovascular system.
And because it’s a potent antioxidant, using grape seed extract can help protect against oxidative stress and contribute to these six heart health benefits.
1. Decreases Blood Pressure
Almost 1,000 deaths per day in the United States are linked with high blood pressure. Fortunately, grape seed extract has been shown to efficiently support healthy blood pressure levels.
We measure blood pressure with two numbers — systolic and diastolic.
- The first number is your systolic blood pressure. This indicates how much your blood is pressing against your artery walls, every time your heart beats.
- The second number is your diastolic blood pressure. This indicates how much your blood is pressing against your artery walls, in between heart beats.
A normal blood pressure reading should fall below 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic).
Grape seed extract has been shown to relieve hypertension (high blood pressure). Hypertension refers to numbers above 120 over 80 — also notated as 120/80 mm Hg. (Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury because the first accurate pressure gauges used mercury.)
If your blood pressure ever reads higher than 180 over 120, it is a medical emergency. Consult a health care provider immediately.
2. Regulates Heart Rate
Also called a pulse, your heart rate is important to monitor if you or anyone in your family are at risk for cardiovascular diseases. As one scientific article puts it, “Mortality rises as resting heart rate increases.” But don’t worry! Grape seed extract is an excellent heart rate regulator.
Your heart rate counts how many times your heart beats every minute. Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body, but at different rates throughout the day and depending upon the activity you are currently undertaking.
During warm up and exercise, your heart rate will be higher than when your body is at rest. A normal resting heart rate can be anywhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute. You should easily be able to get your heart pumping above that when exercising.
Want to know if GSE is working to keep your heart health? You can check your own heart rate — maybe even before and after taking grape seed extract. Simply count the number of times your heart beats in a minute. Use a watch or a timer on your phone to track the time.
The best method for finding your pulse is to place two fingers at the:
- Bottoms of your wrists
- Insides of your elbow
- Sides of your neck
Grape seed extract lowers your heart rate, therefore taking the unnecessary strain off of your heart and lowering your risk for heart disease. A natural heart rate regulator can be useful, since our heart rate being too fast or too slow can be an indicator of:
- Stress and anxiety
- Side effects of other medications
Most likely, grape seed extract lowers your heart rate, in part, by thinning the blood.
3. Increases Blood Flow
Blood flow is important to the function of the human body. With a blood-thinning effect, grape seed extract has been shown to increase blood flow and decrease the risk for heart disease.
Poor blood flow can lead to:
- Increased risk of dangerous heart conditions
- Swelling in the extremities
- Unhealthy skin
- Rapid heartbeat
- Weakened immune system
If you suffer from diabetes, pay special attention to your blood flow, because diabetes decreases the ease of circulation. Schedule regular checkups to visit your healthcare provider, and make sure they check your blood circulation.
In a study of 17 postmenopausal women, 400 milligrams of grape seed extract had blood-thinning effects. This increase in blood flow reduces the chance of harmful blood clots and can even decrease blood pressure.
One truthful claim of GSE sellers is that grape seed extract reduces edema, or swelling. Good news for all you office workers: Grape seed extract’s blood-thinning properties can reduce leg swelling caused by sitting all day.
A similar condition is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Mentioned as long ago as ancient Greek culture, CVI refers to the pooling of blood in the legs because the blood cannot effectively return to the heart. Grape seed extract should increase blood flow, therefore treating chronic venous insufficiency.
4. Inhibits C-Reactive Protein
Inflammatory diseases have many markers. One such marker, C-reactive protein (CRP), was discovered in 1930. Researchers quickly learned that the presence of C-reactive protein accurately predicted inflammatory diseases.
One studied benefit of grape seed extract is that it decreases C-reactive protein levels.
Inflammation and the buildup of plaque can lead to a host of cardiovascular diseases. The reduction of C-reactive protein in your bloodstream, therefore, lowers your risk for heart-related diseases.
The same study referenced above also shows a reduction in the oxidation of bad cholesterol.
5. Gets Rid of Bad Cholesterol
High cholesterol is a problem in America and more places every year as a processed diet becomes prevalent. More than a third of adults in the United States suffer from high cholesterol. Good news, though, as we strive to eat better and get more exercise, a primary effect of grape seed extract is lowering cholesterol levels.
Did you know there is bad cholesterol, but there is also good cholesterol?
Bad cholesterol is called low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. When too much LDL exists in your body, it can lead to a harmful buildup of plaque in your blood vessels — the cause of many cardiovascular and heart diseases.
The good cholesterol is called high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. Just like many Americans have too much LDL, many also have too little HDL.
And human studies have shown grape seed extract as effective in humans as well. Heavy smokers can especially benefit from grape seed extract’s cholesterol-neutralizing properties, as it also helps to prevent oxidative damage.
The oxidation of LDL (when cholesterol turns to plaque in your arteries) is one of several negative effects of oxidative stress.
6. Reduces Oxidative Damage (It’s an Antioxidant)
One of the best benefits of grape seed extract is that it is a natural antioxidant. This refers to its innate ability to rid the body of excess oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is the imbalance between antioxidants, like grape seed extract, and free radicals. These free radicals are negatively charged — they contain at least one unpaired electron — so they can wreak havoc with harmful chemical interactions.
Not all free radicals cause damage. But if there is enough of an imbalance, free radicals may initiate or flare up all sorts of terrible conditions:
- Heart failure, and other heart diseases
- Buildup of plaque in the blood vessels (called atherosclerosis)
- High blood pressure
- Neurodegenerative diseases — like Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease
- Tumor growth
Antioxidants like grape seed extract, hawthorn berry, or beets balance these free radicals and prevent oxidative stress from occurring. Taking these amazing natural ingredients can have significant anti-inflammatory, anti-aging effects on the skin and internal organs.
Some risk factors for an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals include:
- Excessive drinking
- Pollution and radiation
- Sleep deprivation
Research shows grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant.
Balance in the body is key — cut back or eliminate harmful behaviors that lead to an imbalance of free radicals. Even though the presence of some free radicals is unavoidable, your body will thank you for making the extra effort. The first easy step could be adding grape seed extract into your daily routine.
Other Benefits of Grape Seed Extract
There are some great health benefits of grape seed extract besides heart health — though a healthy cardiovascular system is important, you should be aware of the whole body health that GSE can help you achieve.
Grape seed extract has been linked to:
- Wound healing
- Tumor suppression (anti-cancer)
- Appetite suppression (leading to weight loss)
- Bone strength (synthesis of collagen)
- Improved kidney function
- Improved brain function
Dosage for Grape Seed Extract
Many of the studies linked in this article show that a dosage of between 150 and 300 milligrams of grape seed extract daily is great for addressing heart health problems.
300 to 600 milligrams is considered safe in the United States. Doses over 600 milligrams have been used effectively, but without more research, is not yet recommended.
Interestingly, a study out of Japan observed a group of 29 healthy Japanese men and women that took 2500 milligrams daily, for four weeks. No side effects were reported, and no one dropped out of the study.
Because of insufficient reporting data, it is wise to avoid supplementing grape seed extract while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Consult your healthcare provider to determine what the right dosage of GSE is for you. Your primary physician can determine if grape seed extract will flare up any medical condition you may already suffer from or interfere with any current medication.
Side Effects for Grape Seed Extract
Side effects are uncommon when taking grape seed extract. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), grape seed extract is well tolerated for at least up to 14 weeks. After that, a break from consumption and a physician’s re-examination may be recommended.
Certain side effects are rare but may occur. These include:
- Itchy scalp
- Upset stomach
Do not take GSE with anticoagulants (blood thinners), like warfarin or aspirin. This can increase the risk of bleeding since grape seed extract is also a natural anticoagulant.
Grape seed extract may reduce the rate at which your body absorbs iron. It may also increase the rate at which your body metabolizes medication.
Do not change your medication dosage yourself. Always seek medical advice before taking dietary supplements, such as grape seed extract. That way, you can know for certain the dietary supplement will not react badly with your medications and any medical conditions you have.
- Grape seed extract is a potent dietary supplement important to heart health.
- Benefits of grape seed extract include decreased blood pressure, heart rate, harmful cholesterol, and production of C-reactive protein.
- Grape seed extract has also been shown to increase blood flow, as well as antioxidants in the bloodstream.
- Grape seed extract also seems to suppress your appetite, strengthen bones, heal wounds, and help prevent the growth of cancer cells.