Grape Seed Extract—A New Tool to Fight High Blood Pressure

February 2016 View more

agriculture outdoor: grapevinesGrapes have been known for their nutritional value for thousands of years. Egyptians ate them and ancient Greek philosophers promoted the healing power of grapes. Europeans used the sap of grapevines to treat a number of skin and eye diseases. Grape leaves were used to stop inflammation and bleeding. Unripe grapes were used to treat sore throats while sweet grapes were used to treat health problems such as nausea, smallpox, eye infections, and skin diseases.

New Antioxidant Advantages

Today, researchers have found that grape seed extract is loaded with antioxidants. Grape seed extract is a natural product extracted from wine grape seeds. “The grape seed extract we use in our clinical trials is from a company in California that uses a patented extracting process using water,” said Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, director of The Center for Nutrition Research at Illinois Institute of Technology, who is studying the benefits of grape seed extract in controlling blood pressure. “The extract is a concentrated source of polyphenols, which are phytochemicals with health promoting properties. The polyphenols in the grape seed extract we used in our study are particularly good for blood pressure control,” said Burton-Freeman.

Controlling Blood Pressure

There has been a great deal of research on grape seed extract in recent years. Medical experts have found several health benefits from the supplement, such as improving bone strength, healing wounds, preventing skin cancer, reducing swelling, holding off cognitive decline, improving night vision, treating tooth decay, and, most recently, preventing high blood pressure. Burton-Freeman and her team are looking at how modern day meals can produce an inflammatory response, and how grape seed extract can be used to moderate the body’s inflammatory response, without suppressing the immune system.

Specifically, MegaNatural-BP is a grape seed extract used for blood pressure control. “We were interested in determining if MegaNatural-BP grape seed extract would have beneficial effects if offered as a functional food/beverage,” said Burton-Freeman. “The MegaNatural-BP grape seed extract lowered systolic blood pressure compared to a placebo beverage not containing MegaNatural-BP grape seed extract after six weeks of intervention. The diastolic blood pressure was also reduced, but from a statistical standpoint, it just missed being significance. However, important, reductions were noted.” The findings of the study also showed that this extract worked best in people who started with a higher blood pressure. “Another important finding was that after participants discontinued drinking the MegaNatural B-P grape seed extract beverage at the end of the study, four weeks later, blood pressure increased back to starting pressures,” said Burton-Freeman. This patented grape seed extract may also contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system by keeping the natural elasticity of healthy blood vessels. The antioxidants in the supplement may help in protecting the blood vessels from becoming damaged.

Dietary Supplement?

So who should add grape seed extract to their diet? “The research supports helping people who have elevated blood pressure in the pre-hypertension range to get their blood pressure back to normal. Pre-hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg,” said Burton-Freeman. Researchers at Illinois Tech have not encountered any safety concerns at this point in the research. “Future studies will examine the clinical utility of MegaNatural B-P grape seed extract with blood pressure lowering medications for both safety and efficacy. We are not expecting any issues, but we must do the research to be certain,” said Burton-Freeman.


Researchers say it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying the supplement, since it can affect the way certain medicines break down in the liver. Pregnant women should avoid using grape seed extract supplements completely. Grape seed extract is sold as a dietary supplement in both liquid and tablet form. Supplements contain between 50 to 100 mg of the extract.