Anti-ageing roles of grape seeds
For centuries, it has been believed that the benefits of the drinking moderate amounts of wine is therapeutic and is regarded as a factor in the diet that contributes to healthy ageing in European countries. This protective effect is also known as the “French paradox”.
We now know that grapes contain some important plant substances that may be involved in putting the brakes on some age-related mechanisms.
A source of antioxidants
Grapes from the plant species used to make wine (Vitis vinifera) are known to contain a family of antioxidant substances in the skin, flesh, seeds and stems. The best known of these is resveratrol , which has been linked to a lower risk of heart problems. Others including catechins (similar to those found in green tea) and proanthocyanidins, which are mostly found in the grape seeds.
Grape seed proanthocyanidins block the oxidative damage to cell membranes and DNA in liver and brain tissue, with the protective effect increasing at higher levels . These substances also function inside blood vessel tissues to block the breakdown of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid , which is a process that contributes to hardening of the arteries.
Grape seed proanthocyanidins are more than just antioxidants. They also have anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and antimicrobial effects .
Heart and blood vessel health
In a review of 24 different clinical studies that used grape or grape seed products, one study reported a collective reduction in the blood of a factor called C-reactive protein (CRP) . This factor is increased in people with heart and blood vessel diseases, liver problems and metabolic health issues, so it is commonly used as a marker of these problems.
In European medicine, grape seed proanthocyanidins have been used treat several kinds of blood vessel problems, including varicose veins and problems in very small vessels.
Several clinical trials have confirmed the beneficial effects of these grape seed compounds. In a review of 19 clinical studies involving older adults with cardiovascular problems, one report found that grape seed procyanidins significantly reduced blood pressure and heart rate .
Skin ageing health
The declines in elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid, and increases in oxidative stress as mentioned above also occur in ageing skin. Grape seed proanthocyanidins have been shown increase the resistance of the skin to UV induced damage , a type of oxidative stress called photo-oxidation.
Grape seed proanthocyanidins have also proven useful in controlling skin pigmentation. In one research report from Japan, supplementation of this extract in middle-aged women resulted in significant improvements in lightness of facial skin areas with chloasma (age-spots), reductions in melanin index, and a reduction in the size of chloasma areas .
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