After reading this article, you’ll stop throwing away the seeds when eating grapes. Grape seed extract is bursting with antioxidants that prevent heart disease, brain damage, cancer, and skin aging. Here’s how this gift of nature can transform your health and how to use it safely.

What Is Grape Seed Extract?

Grape seed extract is a concentrated source of antioxidant polyphenols from grape seeds [1, 2, 3].

Grapes and other berries abound with specific polyphenols, proanthocyanidins. They are responsible for the dry mouth sensation you get from drinking red wine or berry juice, but they also deliver an array of health benefits [4].

Supplement manufacturers usually source grape seeds from winemakers, and they extract proanthocyanidins and other healthy components.

For other grape seed products and their uses, check out the FAQ section below.

How It Works

Oxidative stress lurks as an underlying cause of many health conditions. Grape seeds are among the best sources of powerful antioxidants, proanthocyanidins, which build oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs) with unique health benefits [4, 5, 6, 7].

Phenolic acids and flavonoids from grape seeds also combat oxidative damage [8].

Apart from antioxidant protection, this unique mixture of grape seed components [9, 10, 11]:

  • Relieves inflammation and allergies
  • Kills microbes and cancer cells
  • Protects healthy cells against toxins and radiation

Snapshot

PROs

  • Prevents heart disease
  • Protects the brain
  • Combats cancer
  • May enhance weight loss
  • Protects the liver and kidneys
  • Supports hair growth
  • May boost testosterone
  • May help with diabetes, asthma, and IBD

CONs

  • Most benefits lack clinical evidence
  • May not be safe for children and pregnant women
  • May interact with blood thinners and other medications

Health Benefits of Grape Seed Extract

1) Supports the Heart and Blood Vessels

Blood Pressure

Two meta-analyses of 25 clinical trials (1.2K patients) concluded that grape seed extract can lower blood pressure. The effect was even stronger in obese patients with insulin resistance [12, 13].

In 36 patients at risk of high blood pressure, the extract (300 mg daily for 6 weeks) reduced blood pressure and lowered their risk [14].

Heart Disease

One-month supplementation with grape seed extract (2 g daily) protected blood vessels of 36 people. The extract boosted the production of nitric oxide and reduced free-radical damage [15].

In different clinical trials on 130+ people, grape seed extract cut the risk of heart disease by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation. It blocked the oxidation of LDL (“bad cholesterol”) in blood vessels. Oxidized LDL is dangerous as it can trigger plaque buildup or atherosclerosis [16, 17, 18, 19, 20].

Animal trials confirmed the ability of this extract to protect the heart and blood vessels against  [18, 21, 22, 23, 24]:

  • LDL oxidation
  • Clogging and hardening
  • Drug-induced damage
  • Damage due to heart attack
  • Lead poisoning

Blood Clotting

In deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot can travel to the lungs and cause a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism [25].

In rats with this condition, grape seed extract prevented the formation of blood clots and reduced their ability to clog the veins [26].

The extract also inhibited blood clotting in many cell studies [27, 28, 29, 30].

Summary

There is sufficient evidence to conclude that grape seed extract can help lower your blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease. For the review of optimal doses, see “Grape Seed Dosage” below.

2) Lowers the Risk of Cancer

In a large observational study (over 35K people), the use of grape seed extract cut the risk of prostate cancer by 41% [31].

An even larger sample (over 65K people) from the same trial revealed extract users were at 43% lower risk of leukemia (blood cancers) [32].

In many studies on rats and mice, grape seed extract prevented UV-induced skin cancer by blocking oxidative damage and inflammation [33, 34, 35, 36, 37].

Plus, this extract inhibited the growth of many other cancer types in lab animals, such as:

  • Colon cancer (by 44 – 88%) [38, 39]
  • Lung cancer [40, 41]
  • Prostate cancer (by 50%) [42]
  • Breast cancer [43]
  • Liver cancer [44]

Test tubes have confirmed its ability to kill different types of cancer cells while supporting the healthy ones [45, 46, 47, 48, 49].

Combinations with Standard Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation as standard cancer treatments are facing enormous challenges, such as poor efficacy and significant adverse effects [50].

Grape seed extract boosted the beneficial effects of chemo in animal and cell studies. At the same time, it relieved side effects caused by chemo and radiation [51, 52, 53].

In rats exposed to radiation, grape seed extract maintained the levels of crucial antioxidants (GSH, retinol, B-carotene). What’s more, it blocked free radicals from damaging important cell-protective fats better than vitamin E (i.e. it prevented lipid peroxidation). It also shielded human lung cells against radiation in test tubes [54, 55].

That’s not all. This extract protected lab animals against an array of chemotherapy side effects, including [52, 56, 57, 58, 51, 18]:

  • Gut inflammation
  • Testicular damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Impaired immunity
  • Heart failure

Summary

Grape seed extract may combat different types of cancer and improve standard cancer treatment, but clinical trials still haven’t confirmed these findings.

3) Boosts Mental Health

In over 100 older patients, supplementation with grape seed extract enhanced cognition and reduced the symptoms of stress and depression [59].

In animal and cell studies, these extracts protected brain cells against oxidative damage and death triggered by different toxins [60, 61, 62].

Alzheimer’s Disease

The main feature of Alzheimer’s disease is age-related cognitive decline caused by protein mutations and free-radical damage in the brain [63].

Polyphenols from grapes and blueberries (600 mg daily for 6 months) relieved cognitive decline and memory loss in 215 older patients. This potent antioxidant mixture showed the same results in mice [64, 65].

In animal studies, grape seed extract cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by [66, 67, 68, 69]:

  • Stopping free-radical damage in the hippocampus (the brain’s memory hub)
  • Raising the levels of antioxidants
  • Preventing protein mutations
  • Boosting the animals’ cognition and memory

4) Protects the Liver

In 15 patients with fatty liver, grape seed extract dropped liver enzymes and reversed fat buildup. It showed better results than vitamin C. But such a small sample prevents us from drawing firm conclusions from this study [70].

Thanks to its strong antioxidant action, grape seed extract shielded the liver of lab animals from impairment caused by:

  • Bile duct obstruction [71, 72]
  • Heavy metals [73, 74]
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) [9]
  • Cut blood supply [75]
  • Chemicals [76]

In mice, it outperformed vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene in protecting the brain and liver against oxidative stress [62].

Aflatoxins are dangerous mold toxins that can wreak havoc on the liver and even cause liver cancer. In studies on chicken, extracts from grape seeds prevented aflatoxin-induced damage [77, 78, 79].

5) Protects the Kidneys

In a clinical trial on 33 patients with kidney disease, grape seed extract enhanced kidney function by providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. This study had a small sample size and uneven randomization, making the results questionable [80].

In animals, grape seed extract protected the kidneys from toxic drugs and high cholesterol. It worked by [81, 82, 58]:

  • Lowering markers of inflammation (IL-1B, TNF-a, MCP-1)
  • Raising protective molecules (HDL, NO, cGMP)
  • Boosting kidney function (reducing creatinine, urea, and uric acid)
  • Preventing LDL oxidation and its buildup

6) Combats Hair Loss

Grape seeds contain procyanidins – powerful antioxidants that support hair growth. An extract of procyanidins (from Annurca apple) boosted hair growth in a trial on 250 men [83].

Grape seed extract and isolated procyanidins stimulated the hair follicles and enhanced hair growth in different animal and cell-based studies [84, 85, 86, 87].

These results are promising, but we still lack clinical trials to confirm its benefits for hair loss.

7) Supports Weight Loss

In 51 overweight patients, grape seed extract slightly reduced food intake but didn’t impact appetite. This study lasted only 3 days and had a small sample size [88].

In animals on high-fat and high-sugar diets, grape seed extract [89, 90, 91, 92]:

  • Blocked fat buildup and production in the liver
  • Enhanced fat burning
  • Lowered the levels of cholesterol and blood lipids

Overall, it seems to be a promising natural tool for fighting obesity and related diseases.

But one study revealed puzzling results. Low doses of grape seed extract increased body fat in pregnant rats and their offspring when combined with a high-fat diet. However, the extract improved their inflammatory profile. In a previous study on breastfeeding rats, higher doses of the extract reduced obesity [93+].

It may be that only higher doses of the extract have obesity-fighting benefits. Or it could be that these extracts need to be standardized to a specific active compound [93+].

Well-designed clinical trials should clear up the conflicting effects of grape seed extract on weight loss and fat burning.

Health Benefits with Limited Evidence

Grape seed extract showed the following benefits in animal and cell studies only.

8) Reproductive Health and Testosterone Levels

In male rats, grape seed extract recovered testosterone levels and prevented testicular damage caused by [94, 95, 96, 57, 97]:

  • Chemo and other drugs
  • Injury
  • Toxic chemicals

According to some animal studies, grape seed extract can inhibit an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase converts male sex hormones (androgens) to female sex hormones (estrogens). This effect may raise the levels of testosterone and protect against breast cancer [98, 99].

That said, grape seed powder had no significant effects on sex hormones in 18 women. It even caused a mild increase in estrogen [100].

9) Diabetes

In diabetic rats, grape seed extract lowered blood glucose, cholesterol, and lipids while boosting insulin secretion and antioxidant support [101].

The extract had the same effects on animals with insulin resistance caused by a high-sugar diet. It prevented blood glucose spikes and restored antioxidant enzymes (catalase, SOD) [102, 103].

Plus, grape seed extract protected diabetic rats and mice against an array of complications, such as:

  • Heart disease [104, 105, 106]
  • Bladder dysfunction [107]
  • Brain damage [108]
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) [109]
  • Lung impairment [110]
  • Nephropathy (kidney damage) [111]

In test tubes, it inhibited carb absorption by blocking 2 crucial enzymes in the gut. One of these enzymes is called alpha-amylase, and its function is to break down complex carbs. By blocking it, grape seed extract would reduce sugar absorption and blood levels after starchy meals [112].

10) Joint and Bone Health

In rats and mice with rheumatoid arthritis, grape seed extract improved the symptoms and reduced autoimmune joint destruction. It lowered the levels of inflammatory molecules (TNF-a, IL-17, IL-21, ICAM-1) and silenced Th1 and Th17 autoimmune responses [113, 114, 115, 116, 117].

In another study, it protected rats against a different joint disease, osteoarthritis. The extract reduced joint pain and cartilage degradation [118].

Additionally, grape seed extract strengthened the bones and boosted their growth in several rat studies [119, 120, 121, 122].

11) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Widespread autoimmune inflammation and oxidative stress cause severe gut damage in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the 2 main forms of IBD. Antioxidants are among new promising IBD treatments [123].

In rats and mice with IBD, grape seed extract [124, 125, 126, 127]:

12) Asthma and Allergies

Grape seed extract relieved airway inflammation (IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, iNOS), IgE immune response, and mucus production in asthmatic rats [128, 129, 130].

In test tubes, it inhibited the release of histamine and other inflammatory components from mast cells, which play a central role in allergic response [131].

13) Bacterial Infections

Lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from the cell wall of gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, etc.) can trigger inflammation and cause different symptoms of bacterial infections [132].

Grape seed extract controlled the inflammatory response (NOx, IL-6, iNOS) and boosted glutathione in rats infected with LPS [133].

In LPS-infected blood cells, the extract inhibited inflammatory molecules (such as NF-kB, PGE2, and MMP) [134, 135, 136].

In test tubes, grape seed extract suppressed the growth of [137]:

  • Bacillus cereus (causes diarrhea and foodborne illnesses)
  • Staphylococcus aureus (infects the skin, lungs, and soft tissues)
  • Escherichia coli (triggers UTIs and gut infection)
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa (causes dangerous infections in hospitals)

What’s more, it killed drug-resistant superbugs known as MRSA in one cell experiment [138].

Benefits of Grape Seed Extract for the Skin

Powerful antioxidants from grape seeds have some visible perks, too. They protect your skin against free radicals, improve complexion, and enhance wound healing.

14) Sun Protection

Moderate sunbathing is essential for your vitamin D production and overall health and wellbeing. On the other hand, excess UV exposure may cause sunburns and even trigger skin cancer [139].

The skin of volunteers treated with grape seed extract before UV exposure had fewer mutated and damaged cells and more healthy ones [140].

And as mentioned above, extracts also prevented UV-induced skin cancer by blocking oxidative damage and inflammation in many animal trials [33, 34, 35, 36, 37].

15) Anti-Aging

In 12 women, supplementation with grape seed extract (200 mg daily for 6 months) lightened the skin and reduced face spots [141].

Its combination with other antioxidants boosted skin complexion in 35 women. They were able to get rid of dark circles, face spots, and other skin imperfections. The majority of women (82%) were satisfied with the results [142].

Men are no excuse when it comes to anti-aging properties of grape seed extract. Cream with 2% of the extract reduced the signs of skin aging in a clinical trial on 110 men [143].

16) Wound Healing

In 40 patients recovering from a surgery, a cream with grape seed extract enhanced wound healing by stimulating VEGF production, blocking oxidative damage, and fighting microbes. It showed the same effect in 2 animal studies [144, 145, 146].

Using Grape Seed Extract

Dosage

The following dosage of grape seed extract had benefits in clinical trials:

  • Antioxidant support: 600 mg daily for 5 days [8]
  • Blood pressure and heart disease: 300 – 2,000 mg for 4+ weeks [12, 13, 19]
  • Mental health and cognition: 250 mg daily for 12 weeks [59]
  • Food intake reduction: 300 mg, 30-60 mins before a meal [147]
  • Kidney disease: 2,000 mg daily for 6 months [80]
  • Skin appearance: 200 mg daily for 6 months [141]

Skin application:

  • Anti-age: 2% GSE cream, 2x daily for 2 months [143]
  • Wound healing: 2% GSE cream, 2x daily for 3 weeks [144]

Side Effects & Safety

Grape seed extract was safe and didn’t cause any notable side effects in clinical trials [12, 59, 80].

Animal safety studies confirmed that it is safe for long-term consumption, even in doses much higher than usual (2g/kg). It may irritate the skin in some cases [148, 149, 150].

Grape seeds and other foods rich in polyphenols may hinder iron absorption. To avoid iron deficiency, don’t take grape seed extract supplements with iron-rich foods (meat, legumes, greens). If you do, include vitamin C to boost iron absorption [151, 152].

Children and pregnant women may want to avoid grape seed extract because we still lack evidence of its safety in these sensitive groups.

Drug Interactions

Although very safe on its own, grape seed extract may inhibit some liver enzymes (CYP3A4 and CYP1A2) and thus impact the metabolism of certain drugs, such as [153, 154]:

  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Antidepressants (SSRIs)
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungal drugs (azoles)

Grape seed extract prevents blood clotting, which may interfere with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin). No studies have confirmed this interaction.

Always consult with your doctor before taking any supplement, including grape seed extract especially if you take prescription medication.

Grape Seed Extract Reviews

Grape seed extract supplements are very popular; people take them for high blood pressure, varicose veins, swelling, etc. Most user reviews of grape seed extract are positive, though some of them experienced only mild benefits.

Older men report positive results for prostate health and libido while women often use it in skincare. Side effects are not common, and they include mild headache, nausea, and skin irritation.

Joe’s Experience

I like grape seed extract! It does initially have an immune-stimulating effect, which isn’t great for my overactive Th1-dominant immune system, but it’s good for Th2-dominant people.

So I don’t take it daily, but I think taking a supplement with proanthocyanidins is important, especially for people who don’t get enough antioxidants through their diet.

Grape Seed Extract FAQ

Does Grape Seed Extract Contain Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is another powerful antioxidant from grapes with a broad spectrum of health benefits. However, grape seed extract is not a good source of resveratrol since resveratrol mainly comes from grape skin [155].

Grape Seed Extract vs. Oil vs. Flour

Grape seed extract is a concentrated source of antioxidant proanthocyanidins and has the most potent health effects.

Grape seed oil contains healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins, and a fraction of antioxidants from the seeds. It shares some health benefits with the extract, but its main uses are in cooking (nutrition) and skincare.

Grape seed flour is a byproduct of oil extraction from the seeds. It contains antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients, which makes it a healthy addition to baked goods.

Grape Seed Extract For Dogs

Supplementation with polyphenols from grapes may prevent blood clotting and age-related cognitive decline in dogs [156, 157].

In test tubes, grape seed extract protected the dogs’ eye cells against oxidative stress. It may thus prevent visual impairment in aged dogs [158, 159].

CAUTION: While grape seed extract is safe for dogs, whole grapes and raisins may trigger life-threatening kidney failure [160, 161].

Grape Seed Extract Supplement Forms

Grape seed extract supplements usually contain pills with 120 400 mg of the extract. Bulk powders and liquid grape seed extracts are also available. Some products are standardized to 95% of proanthocyanidins.

Cosmetics such as face and eye creams can contain grape seed extract, though grapeseed oil is a more common ingredient in skincare.

Buy Grape Seed Extract

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Takeaway

Grape seed extract is loaded with antioxidant proanthocyanidins. It can lower your blood pressure, prevent cognitive decline, and cut your risk of cancer.

Supplements and creams with grape seed extract can rejuvenate your skin, remove face spots, and enhance wound healing.

The evidence is limited when it comes to its benefits for hair growth, weight loss, liver support, testosterone boosting, and others.

Overall, it’s a safe all-around supplement for combating oxidative stress and supporting wellness. Children and pregnant women should avoid it just in case.

The optimal dosage ranges from 300 – 2,000 mg daily. Opt for a standardized product with 95% proanthocyanidins.

About the Author

Aleksa Ristic, MSc (Pharmacy)

MS (Pharmacy)

Aleksa received his MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade, his master thesis focusing on protein sources in plant-based diets.

 

Aleksa is passionate about herbal pharmacy, nutrition, and functional medicine. He found a way to merge his two biggest passions—writing and health—and use them for noble purposes. His mission is to bridge the gap between science and everyday life, helping readers improve their health and feel better.

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