What Is Grape Seed Extract?
The seeds used to make grape seed extract come from Vitis vinifera, the wild grape from which most wine grapes originate. This species is native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and Southwestern Asia around the Caspian Sea, but its use in winemaking and medicine first began around the Caspian Sea and moved westward.
To make grape seed extract, manufacturers press grape seeds to remove the oil, and then dry and pulverize them into a concentrated extract that they form into a tablet, capsule, or liquid.
Grape seed extract seems to be rich in some nutrients, but there is not enough evidence to know whether GSE has health benefits over the short or long term.
Grape Seed Nutrition
In their natural form, the seeds of grapes contain fiber, minerals, protein, water, and oil. By weight, these seeds have approximately:
- 35% fiber
- 3% minerals
- 11% protein
- 7% water
- 20% oils
The seeds of grapes are rich in numerous minerals, but their most potent nutrients are antioxidants like:
- Vitamin E
- Linolenic acid
- Oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs)
- Other phenolic compounds
Possible Grape Seed Extract Health Benefits
Research on possible health benefits of grape seed extract is in its early stages and there is not enough information to know whether it has any long-term benefits.
Heart health. There is very limited evidence to suggest that antioxidants in grape seed extract may help maintain healthy blood pressure and improve circulation.
But grape seed extract can also interact with other vitamins and medications to cause high blood pressure. In addition, grape seed extract can have a blood-thinning effect, so you should speak with your doctor if you take any blood-thinning medications.
Always talk to your doctor before you start taking any new supplement or medication, especially if you're already taking other meds.
Brain health. There is also some very limited animal research that suggests that phenolic compounds in grape seed extract, especially oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs), catechin, epicatechin, procyanidins, gallic acid, and gallocatechin, could help to improve memory and overall brain health. But far more research is needed to know if this is true.
How to Use Grape Seed Extract
Ask your doctor if it is safe or even advisable to take grape seed extract and check with them about the appropriate dosage.
Remember that supplements are not subject to the same level of regulations as over-the-counter medications. Studies have shown that many claims made by supplement companies are not supported by science.
Grape Seed Extract Side Effects and Dangers
- Side effects. Grape seed extract is generally considered safe. Side effects may include headache, itchy scalp, dizziness, and nausea.
- Risks. People allergic to grapes should not use grape seed extract. If you have a bleeding disorder or high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before you start using grape seed extract.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using grape seed extract. It could interact with drugs like blood thinners, NSAID painkillers (like aspirin, Advil, and Aleve), certain heart medicines, cancer treatments, and others.
- Given the lack of evidence about its safety, grape seed extract is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.