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The Benefit of Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract is classified along with herbs and other botanicals as a form of complementary or alternative medicine. The National Institute of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine are currently conducting studies to evaluate the full benefit of grape seed extract in the treatment and prevention of diseases. Here's what we know.

Unlike many other herbs and botanicals, grape seed extract does not have a long history of traditional use. Health researchers first became interested in grape seed extract in the latter part of the 20th century, after studies concerning what is referred to as the "French Paradox" were released. The French have a relatively low incidence of heart disease (about half of what we see in the United States) despite the fact that the typical French diet consists of many diet "no-no's" for heart health and tobacco use is common. Many scientists believe that the secret to heart health among the French is found in red wine.

Red wine contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins or procyanidins, which are plant antioxidants. You have probably heard of antioxidants. They are found in your daily vitamins. Vitamin C & E are common examples of antioxidants. Procyanidins are less common antioxidants, found in only a few foods, and grape seed extract is considered the best source of procyanidins, better even than the red wine that originated the research. In short, the benefit of grape seed extract is due to the uncommonly powerful antioxidants it contains.

So, what exactly is grape seed extract good for? It is used as complementary or alternative medicine in conditions related to the heart and blood vessels. Conditions like hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure, high cholesterol and poor circulation. The benefit of grape seed extract has been seen in complications resulting from diabetes i.e. nerve damage and visual impairment. It has been used to help improve macular degeneration, a disease of the eye in which central vision is lost. Grape seed extract also seems to reduce swelling after injuries or surgery. There are many natural anti-inflammatories in the plant kingdom, grape seed extract is simply the "latest".

Grape seed extract as a dietary supplement is recommended to aid in the prevention of heart disease and cancer, since many types of cancerous tumors result from oxidative stress and the proanthocyanidins found in grape seed extract are powerful antioxidants. In other words, they reduce or nullify the effects of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is something that every human being, animal and plant is exposed to, but it does not always cause disease and cancer. It is believed that antioxidants prevent oxidative stress from damaging plants and animals on a cellular level.

Ongoing research by the National Institutes of Health into benefit of grape seed extract is focused on breast and prostrate cancer prevention. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has focused its research on the benefit of grape seed extract to the brain and the heart. One of the best heart health supplements on the market contains grape seed extract. To learn more about it and other supplements for heart health, please visit the website Heart Health Diet Tips.

Patsy Hamilton was a health care professional for over twenty years before becoming a health writer. Currently she is writing a series of articles about heart health. Read more at