Grape Seed Extract & Cholesterol

Overview

Long recognized for both their nutritional and medicinal properties, grapes have been cultivated for at least 6,000 years. The fruit and the wine made from it are a staple of many cultures. Throughout history remedies have been employed using various parts of the plant. There is growing evidence to suggest that grapes, and grape seed extract in particular, have beneficial properties including the ability to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Benefits

Grape seed extract taken in conjunction with chromium was shown at the Georgetown University Medical Center to result in significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels in 40 human participants. Subsequent studies have supported and expanded upon these findings.

Significance

Grape seed extract was shown to lower the blood pressure of participants in the first human clinical study of the supplement, conducted by the University of California Davis. In the study of three groups of eight patients each, the first group was assigned a placebo, the second was given 150 mg of the supplement, and the final group was given 300 mg. No changes were noted in the first group; however the second and third groups experienced significant drops in blood pressure. The third group demonstrated a significant drop in their level of LDL cholesterol.

Function

Normal oxidation reactions inside the body produce highly reactive free radicals which have been shown to damage cells and contribute to aging, heart disease and some cancers. Molecules that prevent or slow down the oxidation of other molecules are termed antioxidants. Grape seed extract contains antioxidants, and so helps to remove free radicals and inhibit oxidation reactions.

Types

Prepared from grape seeds, the extract is available as a dietary supplement in capsule, liquid and tablet forms. When taken by mouth it typically is tolerated well and has been safely used in clinical trials lasting up to eight weeks.

Considerations

Wine is an excellent source of antioxidants; however the American Heart Association does not recommend consuming wine to protect against heart disease. Grape seed extract is an alternative supplement, without the substantial side effects of consuming alcohol.

Warning

No interactions between traditional medications and grape seed extract have been reported. However, compounds within the extract may act as a blood-thinner, and when used in conjunction with other blood-thinners may increase the risk of excessive bleeding. Consult your doctor before using grape seed extract if you have a bleeding disorder, or are currently taking blood-thinning medications.

About this Author

Travis W. Taggart has a B.S. in biology from Fort Hays State University (Hays, Kansas) and an M.S. in molecular biology from Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond). A self-taught computer programmer and Web developer, he has authored or co-authored more than 100 scientific/popular articles on subjects in natural history and technology.