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Grape seed: fight free radicals with antioxidant(2008/1/11 19:02:52)

The humble grape became an international star when studies suggested it might be partly responsible for the famous ability of the French to avoid heart disease by simply washing down their croissants and other saturated-fat-filled foods with antioxidant-rich red wine.

Grape seed proanthocyanidins--derived from flavonoids (antioxidant compounds found in fruits and vegetables)--are found in red wine and other red grape products. The compounds help destroy the free radicals linked to heart disease.

Also, animal studies have shown that oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds (OPC), found in grape seed extract, can help lower blood cholesterol levels.

A recent small-scale clinical trial studied grape seed extract's effect on high blood pressure. The one-month study followed three groups of eight men and women. The first group received a placebo; the second and third groups took daily doses of 150mg and 300mg, respectively, of grape seed extract. Blood pressure dropped in both groups receiving the extract, says lead researcher C. Tissa Kappagoda, MD, professor of medicine and director of the preventive cardiology program at University of California, Davis. The group taking 300mg of grape seed extract also saw their LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels decrease. "Generally, the higher their initial LDL level was, the greater the drop by the end of the study," he said.

While we await the results of more studies, you can take grape seed extract as a preventive measure and for antioxidant support. Consider a daily dose of 50mg of grape seed extract; look for products standardized to 95 percent OPC to maximize potency. Grape seed proanthocyanidins may interfere with blood-clotting drugs and aren't recommended for pregnant women, but these seem to be the only precautions.

So take a lesson from the French and toast your heart health with this potent grape-based antioxidant.


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