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The benefits of grapes

Taking specific nutrients can promote health, but is not a substitute for taking medication or the advice of your doctor.

It is fairly well known that grape consumption is good for our health, whether for cardiovascular protection, symptoms of type II diabetes, support of the immune system or maintenance of cognitive functions.1-3 Grapes contain many antioxidant substances. Resveratrol is a grape polyphenol about which we hear a lot, particularly because of its antioxidant action that has an effect on ageing and potential anti-cancer activity.4,5 But there are other substances in grapes that have a very interesting potential for our health, such as OPC (oligoproanthocyanidin), a flavonoid-type polyphenol found in grape seeds. Let’s take a detailed look at the properties of this less well-known substance :  

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, but also antimicrobial.

OPC is a very strong antioxidant, much more powerful than vitamins A (β-carotene), C and E to reduce the amount of free radicals (ROS) and oxidative stress. It effectively protects against lipid and DNA damage, allowing proper tissue function. OPC also has an anti-inflammatory effect, for example by reducing the amount of inflammatory messengers (cytokines). It appears to be particularly active in fat tissue, lungs, intestines and muscles. OPC therefore helps to limit chronic inflammation and the many problems that can result from the mutually amplifying combination of inflammation and oxidative stress.6,7 

It could also have an antimicrobial action, limiting the proliferation of certain bacteria, especially in our food, thus avoiding problems related to food poisoning.8,9 OPC also seems to be effective against certain fungi (Candida) infecting the vaginal mucous membranes.10

Beneficial for the skin

Oral intake of OPC is protective for the skin, as it protects against oxidative stress and cell death caused by UV light.11 In addition, it can bind with type I collagen molecules, strengthening the structure of tissues, including skin, tendons, teeth and bones.12

The application of OPC to a wound may also accelerate wound healing and improve the strength and elasticity of the reconstructed tissue. Its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it an effective healing agent.13-17

Important for musculoskeletal health

OPC also supports bone health by reducing bone loss (osteoporosis) and improving bone healing. This is particularly noticeable because it can counteract the acceleration of these problems in the absence of oestrogen, such as during menopause.18 Bone growth is also promoted by OPC with calcium, and bone mineral density is improved.19,20

OPC is good for the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease of the joint. Taking OPC may reduce symptoms by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, influencing immune cells, and blocking cells that destroy bone and cartilage.21-23 In osteoarthritis, OPC appears to protect the joint, reducing the loss of chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and the destruction of extracellular matrix fibres (collagen, proteoglycans), as well as osteophytes (bone outgrowth) and subchondral bone fractures. It also helps to reduce pain.24

In athletes, the consumption of grape extract has also been shown to reduce oxidative stress and muscle damage, while improving physical performance in some athletes.25

Beneficial for chronic and metabolic diseases

The antioxidant properties of OPC are beneficial for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, particularly in avoiding lipid peroxidation that affects respiratory function, and may even reduce some of the impact of oxidative stress due to smoking.6,26

OPC also appears to have anticarcinogenic properties, on the one hand by protecting healthy cells and on the other hand by having cytotoxic activity on cancer cells. It is considered to be a chemopreventive agent, i.e. inhibiting or even reversing the first cancerous developments. Some research suggests that it could also be used as an adjuvant in the treatment (chemotherapeutic effect) of cancer, for example of the colon or tongue, among others.6,27-32

OPC may be beneficial for cardiovascular disease, as some experimental studies suggest that it may reduce atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries, limit blood pressure and certain heart problems, and improve blood circulation, reducing leg swelling and the risk of clots.6,33-36 Caution is advised if blood pressure medication or anticoagulants are already prescribed. It also has an effect against diabetes and obesity, improving insulin response and lipid metabolism, for example by reducing the oxidation of cholesterol.7,37-39 The kidneys, pancreas, liver and gastrointestinal system also benefit from the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation due to OPC, as organ function is improved and cell death in certain diseases can be reduced.6,40-44

Protector for our brain

Our brain can also benefit from the properties of grape polyphenols. Cognitive performance can be increased, oxidative stress and its effects are reduced and lipids (especially in the membranes of our neurons) are protected.45 Neurons thus avoid cell death due to oxidative stress.46 A 12-week clinical study shows that cognitive functions (memory and attention) are improved with OPC.47 Some research on mice even suggests that the accumulation of certain molecules in our brains that eventually cause Alzheimer’s disease may be neutralised by grape flavonoids, resulting in reduced neurodegeneration and improved learning ability.48-50 Grape extract may also help restore functions after cerebral ischaemia, such as memory if the hippocampus is affected.51

Taking specific nutrients can promote health, but is not a substitute for medication or the advice of the treating physician.

Disclaimer of liability:
The information published on does not claim to be complete and is not a substitute for individual medical advice or treatment. It cannot be used as an independent diagnosis or to select, apply, modify or discontinue treatment of a disease. In case of health problems, it is recommended to consult a doctor. Any access to and its contents is at the user’s own risk.
Indications :
Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied diet. The recommended daily allowance should not be exceeded. In general, food supplements are not suitable for pregnant and nursing women, children and adolescents. Keep out of reach of children.


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