November 25, 2019 | Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition
Grape seed extract performs multiple protective acts as an antioxidant. Commonly recognized for its support for connective tissue, this little gem of nature benefits numerous tissues and functions throughout the body. Other nutrients may grab the limelight of popularity, but grape seed extract stands firm with many benefits. Because of this versatility and value, grape seed extract is one of my personal favorite nutrients. Here are some recent research highlights.
Collagen and Soft Tissues
Researchers first identified grape seed extract in 1947 and referred to it as vitamin P. Today we know it as a type of polyphenol and an oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC) antioxidant. Polyphenols are micronutrients that function as antioxidants and are obtained from various fruits and vegetables. In the case of grape seed extract, the polyphenols or OPCs comes from the seed of red grapes. It is well-known as a powerful antioxidant and for connective tissue support.
Grape seed extract has a high affinity for collagen of many different types. It readily binds onto, protects and strengthens collagen tissues found in soft tissue like muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It even helps support dental mineralization and bone strength. Grape seed extract is sought after for its antioxidant protection and structural support.
Blood Vessel Lining, Blood Brain Barrier and Leptin
One major benefit of grape seed extract pertains to relaxation of blood vessels and support of the endothelial lining. Inside blood vessels is a one-cell-thick layer of cells called the endothelium. This lining is found throughout the circulatory system, but also in the chambers of the heart, lymphatic vessels, liver, kidneys, lungs, bones, sinuses, gut, and spleen, etc. This layer of cells is like a layer of Teflon lining vessels. It allows the passage of fluids like blood to move swiftly without getting stuck in a crack.
It is essential to help relaxation and protection of the endothelial lining of blood vessels from stress for healthy cholesterol, homocysteine, and blood pressure. Injury to the endothelial lining makes the inside of the blood vessels tighter, jagged and rough which can affect the normal flow of blood and cholesterol. The benefits of grape seed extract go beyond this.
Cutting-edge recent research demonstrated that grape seed extract provides antioxidant support to the endothelial (inner) lining of the capillaries in the blood brain barrier. This cellular study took things to another level with evaluation of leptin transport across the blood brain barrier.
This is of great interest as inflammatory immune cells injure the blood brain barrier which compromises transport of leptin into the brain. This process contributes to obesity and leptin resistance. This unique study provided initial findings that grape seed extract and other polyphenol compounds like resveratrol may be helpful in modulating the blood brain barrier for protection against the leptin-obesity-inflammation cycle.
Cholesterol, Blood Sugar and Body Clocks in the Liver
In a different view on grape seed extract benefits, new research reveals some interesting effects pertaining to body clocks, metabolism, and energy dynamics in the liver. Body clocks are fundamental to normal physiology and metabolism. Just like if the clock in your car runs slow or fast, it throws you off with your daily schedule. This same principle applies to the circadian clocks found throughout your body. The brain has the master clock, but each organ has its own clock including the liver.