Can Grape Seed Curb Your Cholesterol?

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Can Grape Seed Curb Your Cholesterol?

For help in controlling their cholesterol, some individuals turn to a natural product known as grape seed extract. Available in dietary supplement form, grape seed extract is said to be rich in antioxidants that may help prevent cholesterol buildup in your arteries and protect against heart disease.

Why Is Grape Seed Extract Sometimes Used for High Cholesterol?

Although research on how or why grape seed extract might affect cholesterol levels is fairly limited, some preliminary studies suggest that antioxidant compounds found in grape seed may help inhibit the formation of cholesterol.

Grape seed antioxidants also appear to thwart certain processes involved in the buildup of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in your blood.

What's more, some animal-based research indicates that tannins (a class of compounds with anti-inflammatory properties) present in grape seed may help reduce the absorption of cholesterol in your digestive tract.

Research on Grape Seed Extract and Cholesterol

To date, there's little scientific support for the claim that grape seed extract can curb cholesterol levels. In a report published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2011, for instance, researchers reviewed nine previously published clinical trials (with a total of 390 participants) testing grape seed extract's effects on cardiovascular factors such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure. While the report's authors concluded that grape seed extract may help lower blood pressure and heart rate, the review failed to find evidence that this product can improve cholesterol levels.

Still, several small studies suggest that grape seed extract may aid in cholesterol management.

These studies include a clinical trial published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2013, for which 52 people with mildly elevated cholesterol levels were given either 200 mg of grape seed extract or a placebo every day for eight weeks. Results revealed that treatment with grape seed extract led to a slight decrease in LDL cholesterol, as well as a slight increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol.

There's also some evidence that a combination of grape seed extract and chromium polynicotinate (a substance containing the mineral chromium and the B vitamin niacin) may help reduce cholesterol levels. In a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicine in 2000, for example, a two-month-long experiment involving 40 people with high cholesterol demonstrated that taking a combination of grape seed extract and chromium polynicotinate may significantly reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Caveats

Some individuals may experience side effects such as dizziness, headache, indigestion, and nausea.

Little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of grape seed extract. If you're considering long-term or regular use of grape seed extract supplements, make sure to consult your physician.

You can learn more about how to use dietary supplements safely here.

Alternatives to Grape Seed Extract for Cholesterol Control

Many other antioxidant-rich natural substances have been found to help cut cholesterol and boost heart health. These substances include herbs like garlic, as well as natural products like green tea.

Increasing your intake of soluble fiber is another approach to keeping cholesterol in check. Good sources of soluble fiber include foods like oats, barley, beans, lentils, berries, and apples, as well as flaxseed, carob, and acacia fiber.

Beyond Cholesterol Management: More Uses for Grape Seed Extract

Apart from possibly lowering cholesterol levels, grape seed extract may be beneficial in relieving symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency and in fighting diabetic retinopathy (a common complication of diabetes).

Source: http://altmedicine.about.com/od/healthconditionsdisease/fl/Grape-Seed-Extract-for-High-Cholesterol.htm
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