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Grape Seed Extract Benefits Grow Widely

Albion Minerals®

Surprising, but grape seed extract may be better for you than the grapes from which it comes.

These polyphenols are known as “nature’s biological response modifiers” because of their ability to help the body fight viruses, allergens and carcinogens. That means that among their many talents, they exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-cancerous and anti-microbial activity. Studies show promise for treating heart diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Not bad for a “waste product.” 


Cal Bewicke, president of Ethical Naturals (San Anselmo, CA), said because grape skins also contain some of the most valuable nutritional components found in grapes (such as polyphenols and other key antioxidants), most innovative grape extract products today are derived from both seed and skin. “This has allowed for higher, and more reliable, levels of antioxidants to be standardized into these extracts.” 

Another advance has been the use and understanding of the ORAC Value scale for antioxidant evaluation, and the reliable methods developed by Brunswick Labs (Norton, MA) testing these values. When both ORAC value and total polyphenol content are measured, they give a good indication of antioxidant activity.

Ethical Naturals Inc. has recently been granted a patent for their grape extract ORAC- 15M™, which guarantees 15,000 ORAC units/gram and 80 percent grape polyphenols.

Anil J. Shrikhande PhD, presi-dent of Polyphenolics, a division of Constellation Brands, Inc. (Madera, CA), said the company’s MegaNatural- BP is differentiated grape seed extract with a unique molecular structure that promotes its rapid transport in the endothelium layer of major arteries, and provides increased activity of NOS (nitric oxide synthetase ) in the generation of NO. “This, in turn, creates endothelium dependent relaxation and a drop in blood pressure,” he said.

When taken from 150-300mg daily by mouth, the extract maintains the healthy blood pressure within a normal range. Dr. Kappagoda, professor of preventive cardiology, University of California, Davis, published this research (the research was applied the with the MegaNatural-BP Grape Seed Extract only, which has an FDA structure function claim and has GRAS status), Shrikhande explained.


Most grape seed and skin extracts can be used in supplements, but they are now also becoming widely used to add antioxidant value to beverages. “For this purpose, the extracts need to have a high ORAC value, and also be fully water soluble, stable and with a low flavor profile,” said Bewicke. “They also need to go through GRAS affirmation.” 

Ethical Natural’s ORAC-15M is unique in that it combines all of these qualities required for beverage use, and also has excellent characteristics for supplement tableting and encapsulation, Bewicke added.

The best way to utilize the MegaNatural-BP is in the form of capsules, tablets, and with functional foods and beverages as nutrition bars, vitamin tonics and beverages, noted Shrikhande. He added that the nutraceutical industry is interested in ingredients that provide help in reducing specific health conditions, and the subjects or their physicians can monitor their effects. Companies interested in marketing such products require good science and actual human clinicals to show the effect as antioxidant or blood pressure management.

“The category growth of our MegaNatural-BP ingredient has far exceeded our expectations, since consumers can easily measure and see a change in blood pressure within the healthy normal range,” said Shrikhande. The ingredient has intellectual property in composition, process for production and method of use patents, technical publications for GRAS status, and clinical research in double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, which are considered as gold standard in the industry, he added.

Shrikhande shared that consumer awareness of grape seed extract ingredients has grown through video and local and national radio programs by experts in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. “Leading R&D scientists in the industry are contacted to use the MegaNatural-BP in their product formulations for co-branding with the Polyphenolics brand,” he said. “This creates a point of difference in special retail stores and through annual meetings of distributors for MLM (multi-level marketing) organizations.” 

Future in Foods 

Be prepared to see grape seed extract ingredients in more mainstream consumer products: the state of the market looks favorable as antioxidants continue to grow in popularity as additions to supplements, foods and beverages, said Bewicke.

Shrikhande agreed that there will be more growth, as highly successful ingredients used by the dietary supplement companies are being explored and used by famous food and beverage companies for specific health conditions.

Researchers Design “Green” Extraction Method for Grape Antioxidants

University of Arkansas researchers are taking grape skins left from making wine and juice and using “green” processes to extract powerful antioxidants that can be used in health products.

Traditional extraction methods use organic solvents, which can be expensive, toxic and difficult to dispose. Jerry King, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas, and his colleague, food science professor Luke Howard, received $350,000 over four years from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of an interdepartmental collaboration to employ a method using pressurized water to extract the antioxidants. For the past four years, they have worked to optimize these extraction methods using a technique called subcritical water processing.

To do this, scientists heat the water under pressure, which allows it to remain liquid at high temperatures and act as an extraction solvent. They also used organic acids to isolate certain types of antioxidants.

The researchers faced several challenges with this method, because natural antioxidants can break down at high temperatures. They developed a process of continuous extraction that allows for high flow rates to minimize antioxidant degradation and maximize their breakdown. The new process not only increases the efficiency of extraction over ethanol alone, but also produces antioxidant compounds that are smaller in size, which are more effectively adsorbed by the body.