New study shows that grape seed extract might help lower high blood pressure.

Grapes have been heralded for their medicinal and nutritional value for thousands of years. They have also been touted as powerful antioxidants, which could help treat several conditions, from heart disease to cancer, aging skin, chronic venous insufficiency and edema. A new study suggests that grape seed extract might also help treat high blood pressure.

According to University of Maryland Medical Center researchers, the antioxidants found in grape seed — oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs), help protect blood vessels from damage. Damaged blood vessels can lead to high blood pressure. They found that in several animal studies, grape seed extract substantially reduced blood pressure. But human studies are still.

The study involving healthy volunteers, found that taking grape seed extract “did substantially increase levels of antioxidants in their blood.” Antioxidants are substances that destroy free radicals, which are harmful compounds in the body that damage DNA and even cause cell death. Free radicals are also believed to contribute to aging, as well as the development health problems like heart disease and cancer.

Besides OPCs, grape seeds are concentrated sources of Vitamin E, flavonoids, and linoleic acid. These compounds can also be found in lower concentrations in the skin of the grape. Resveratrol, found mainly in grape skins, is a popular antioxidant and is being studied in connection with a variety of diseases. OPCs are also found in grape juice and wine, but in lower concentrations. However, drinking alcohol to protect against heart disease is not advocated by the American Heart Association and other organizations, because of “the potential for addiction and other serious problems, such as car accidents and the increased risk of hypertension, liver disease, breast cancer, and weight gain.”

Grape seed is available as a dietary supplement in capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts. Products should be standardized to 40–80 percent proanthocyanidins or an OPC content of not less than 95 percent. People considering to use grape seed extract, must first to consult a doctor, because it can interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications.

As far as drinking red wine, the AHA says no more than 2 glasses (20g ethanol) per day for men and no more than 1 if you are a woman!

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