Although not particularly tasty, whole grape seeds are completely edible, and scientific evidence suggests that they are good for you, too. Packed with essential fatty acids, amino acids, and powerful flavonoids (such as proanthocyanidins), these little bitter seeds have been associated with a whole slew of health benefits. Eating grape seeds on a regular basis may, for example, improve cardiovascular health, reduce leg swelling and varicose veins, provide some protection against certain types of cancer, offer weight loss benefits, treat depression, and even fight yeast infections caused by Candida.
In addition, thanks to their remarkably strong antioxidant properties, grape seeds might (at least in theory) help fight certain skin conditions – such as inflammatory acne, psoriasis, and premature wrinkling of the skin – and some more serious health complications such as asthma, joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients, and problems related to eye health.
To reap the nutritional and health benefits of grape seeds described in detail in the rest of this article, there’s no need to resort to grape seed supplements. Just get some fresh, organic grapes (make sure you don’t get a ‘seedless’ variety), and snack on them. You’ll also want to chew the seeds, rather than just swallow them whole, in order to unlock their full nutritional potential.
Strong Antioxidant Properties Due to Proanthocyanidins
Whole grape seeds are naturally rich in flavonoids including gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, gallocatechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin 3-O-gallate, and perhaps most importantly, oligomeric proanthocyanidins. According to research, the antioxidant capacity of proanthocyanidins is 20 times greater than vitamin E and 50 times greater than vitamin C.
In addition, proanthocyanidins have been shown to enhance the effectiveness of other antioxidants. As a result of the remarkably strong antioxidant power of proanthocyanidins, it is not surprising that supplement manufacturers have began to process grape seeds into pills and capsules.
As you probably already know, antioxidants can help improve your health in many ways. They can protect your body from signs of premature aging, including saggy and wrinkled skin, poor cardiovascular health, and deteriorating vision. Sufficient levels of antioxidants are also of utmost importance to anyone following a diet plan for acne-free skin or an anti-asthma diet plan, and they may provide protection against psoriasis, rosacea, and joint inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, too.
Grape Seeds for Leg Swelling, Varicose Veins, and Cardiovascular Problems
Do you suffer from varicose veins? Whole grape seeds might be just what you need to add to your varicose vein busting diet. The proanthocyanidins in grape seeds have been shown to improve blood circulation by strengthening capillaries, arteries, and veins. One double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical study also found grape seed extract to be capable of reducing leg swelling in women during prolonged sitting.
But the vascular benefits of grape seeds appear to extend beyond potentially providing relief to women with varicose veins. Numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the potential benefits of grape seed extract on cardiovascular health, both in animals and in humans, and the results have been promising. Grape seed extract has been shown, for example, to reduce the scale of a heart attack, control tachycardia (an abnormally fast resting heart rate), provide protection against cardiotoxicity caused by the drug doxorubicin, reduce biomarkers of early stage atherosclerosis, and reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol levels.
Although researchers caution that it is too early to draw conclusions about the potential of grape seeds to reduce cancer risk in humans, in vitro and in vivo research conducted to date has found grape seed extracts (particularly proanthocyanidins extracted from grape seeds) to possess anti-cancer properties. In one animal test using mice, these extracts were shown to provide protection against UV-induced photocarcinogenesis by reducing tumor incidence, tumor multiplicity, and tumor size, and by preventing the transformation of UVB-induced papillomas to malignant carcinomas. These anti-cancer effects against UV-induced photocarcinogenesis have been largely attributed to the strong antioxidant properties of proanthocyanidins.
In another study, grape seed proanthocyanidins were found to reduce azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis in mice by inducing apoptosis. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is the body’s natural way of getting rid of damaged or useless cells, but this mechanism is typically faulty in cancer cells, allowing them to multiply in an uncontrolled manner.
Fat Loss Benefits of Grape Seeds
Still not impressed by the potential health benefits associated with eating grape seeds? Here’s yet another reason to chew those hard little seeds next time you snack on grapes: evidence suggests that compounds in grape seeds may also provide weight loss benefits. In a 2003 in vitro study, an extract derived from crushed grape seeds showed inhibitory activity on the fat-metabolizing enzymes pancreatic lipase and lipoprotein lipase. This suggests that grape seed extract might be useful as a treatment to reduce dietary fat absorption and the accumulation of fat within the body.
Grape Seeds – A Natural Remedy for Depression?
In 2010, an international team of scientists from the United States and China published an interesting study on the effects of grape proanthocyanidins on mental health. Proanthocyanidins were shown to exert antidepressant-like effects in mice, similar to the effects of the antidepressant drug imipramine (Tofranil). The antidepressant-like effects of grape proanthocyanidins were linked to marked increases in serotonin levels in three brain regions – the frontal cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus – and to increases in noradrenalin and dopamine levels in the frontal cortex and hippocampus.