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