In order to protect cells from the degeneration and decay which lead to aging and disease it is essential that we consume a variety of foods and supplements which have strong antioxidant properties. Thanks to its high levels of proanthocyanidins, a major weapon in my anti-aging arsenal is Grape Seed Extract.
Expensive supplements, derived from pine bark, contain 85% proanthocyanidins while grape seed extract contains 95% proanthocyanidins. But what is proanthocyanidin you ask?
In the future, health care providers may hand out proanthocyanidin pills as readily as they recommend aspirin today. A steady stream of animal and in vitro studies supplemented by epidemiological evidence and a smattering of preliminary human studies reveal numerous health benefits associated with these compounds. Chief among the benefits is antioxidant protection against heart disease and cancer.
Proanthocyanidins–more technically oligomeric proanthocyanidins and, hence, the OPC moniker–are a class of flavonoids. Formerly called “condensed tannins,” all proanthocyanidins are chemically similar, the only differences being slight changes in shape and attachments of their polyphenol rings. In nature, a jumble of different proanthocyanidins is always found together, ranging from individual units to complex molecules of many linked units (oligomers). The action of this nutrient is to act as an antioxidant and stabilize collagen and elastin – both important proteins in connective tissues, as well as blood vessels and muscles. Although they are not essential nutrients to the body they do have a part to play in achieving optimum health. These nutrients are water-soluble and free of side effects since excess is simply excreted in the urine.
OPCs are found in many woody plants. The two most common sources of proanthocyanidins are grape seeds (Vitis vinifera) and the white pine (Pinus maritima, P. pinaster) of southern Europe.
Proanthocyanidins deserve their stellar reputation as antioxidants that quench free radicals and potentiate other antioxidants. In one in vitro study, the OPCs in a patented pine bark extract prolonged the life span of vitamin C by 400 percent. The OPCs increase the effectiveness of vitamin C by acting as a carrier and as a restorer of oxidized vitamin C by working with glutathione. Hence, a positive effect of these flavonoids in the body is the sparing consumption of vitamin C. Grape Seed Extract helps to increase intra cellular vitamin C levels, decrease capillary permeability and fragility, scavenge oxidants and free radicals and uniquely binds to collagen in order to protect it from destruction.
An in vitro study showed that exposing blood vessel linings to pine bark OPCs boosted their vitamin E content by 15 percent. Grape seed has also shown recycling and potentiating effects. The test tube-based activity of vitamin E, in a system mimicking cell membranes, has shown enhancement by grape seed OPCs. A recent mouse study by Debasis Bagchi, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Creighton University School of Pharmacy in Omaha, Neb., also found that a patented grape seed extract protected tissue from oxidation better than the antioxidant vitamins C and E or beta-carotene.
Grape seeds can have 7 to 15 percent more OPCs than pine bark and can be more potent as well as more economical.
Go to your nearest organic food store to find your Grape Seed Extract supplement!
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