Is Grape Seed Extract as Healthful as Wine?

Patients ask me periodically if grape seed extract provides the same health benefit as judicious red wine.  Nobody knows with certainty.  The health benefits of red wine may be due to resveratrol.  Grape seed extract contains potentially healthy antioxidants called proanthocyanidins,

Many people don’t enjoy wine or other alcohol-containing drinks, and others just shouldn’t drink any alcohol.  Should they take a grape seed extract supplement or drink grape juice as a subsitute?  Again, it’s still unclear.  In 2009 I wrote a about a review article looking at the effect of various non-wine grape products and effects on heart disease risk.

A recent meta-analysis out of the University of Connecticut found improvement in two heart disease risk factors in those who take a grape seed extract supplement:

  • systolic blood pressure lower by 1.54 mmHg
  • heart rate lower by 1.42 beats per minute

No effect was seen on lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), diastolic blood pressure, and C-reactive protein (a test of systemic inflammation).

Granted, these are tiny effects.  It’s unknown whether they, or other unknown effects of grape seed extract, would translate into clinical benefits such as fewer heart attacks and strokes, and longer lifespans.

Bottom Line

Grape seed extract and other non-wine grape products may be as beneficial as red wine in prolonging lifespan and preventing heart disease.  But we have much stronger evidence in favor of red wine and other alcohol-containing drinks.

Steve Parker, M.D.

 Reference:  Feringa, H.H.H, et al. The Effect of Grape Seed Extract on Cardiovascular Risk Markers: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled TrialsJournal of the American Dietetic Association, 111 (2011): 1,173-1,181.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

3 responses to “Is Grape Seed Extract as Healthful as Wine?

  1. I’d be highly skeptical of the resveratrol story. It’s incredibly muddy. Much of the data on sirtuins and the like came back as, shall we say “less than repeatable”. That, or it was actually harmful (GSK decided to pull the plug on their resveratrol compound due to increased renal failure in the patients taking the compound). While it’s true that wine (or any alcohol for that matter) is beneficial, in no way would I attribute that specifically to resveratrol. And with respect to grape seed extract, what we don’t know about that supplement could fill an ocean. Much, much, much more basic research needs to be done in this field before I’d recommend it in humans. Like you said in your other post, you’re better off eating a cup of grapes. And to mimic calorie restriction (what the resveratrol is supposedly doing), you’re much better off undergoing some periodic fasting.

    http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2010/12/01/resveratrol_srt501_development_halted.php

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1747-0285.2009.00901.x/abstract

    http://www.jbc.org/content/early/2010/01/08/jbc.M109.088682

  2. I prefer wine…I usually read up on these things before committing to any type of diet. There’s a great site called http://GetYourDiet.com that talks about the hottest new trends out there. My favorite is http://getyourdiet.com/review/xtreme-fat-loss-diet/