Italy and France are the main producers of grape seed oil, though it is also produced in Spain and Argentina. Grapes are known for their medicinal and nutritive properties, and have been cherished for thousands of years. Nowadays, several scientific researches have revealed that grape seed extract and oil derived from the seeds, have many health benefits.
Health Benefits of Grape Seed Oil
Folk healers of Europe were believed to have developed an ointment from the sap of grapevines for curing skin and eye related diseases. In recent times, many studies have been conducted on grape seed oil, some of which have unearthed the health benefits of certain compounds found in this oil.
The anti-inflammatory properties, as well as many other health benefits of this oil can be attributed to the presence of a flavonoid, known as oligomeric proanthocyanidin.
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties of oligomeric proanthocyanidin, grape seed oil may help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with several conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. It may help speed up the wound healing process as well.
The main antioxidants found in grape seed oil are, vitamin E and oligomeric proanthocyanidin. Oligomeric proanthocyanidin is an extremely powerful antioxidant, being 20 times stronger than vitamin C and 50 times more effective than vitamin E.
This compound can therefore, provide effective protection against the oxidative damage caused by free radicals, and thus may prove helpful in lowering the risk of several diseases, including cancer.
Benefits for the Cardiovascular System
Grape seed oil can help improve the health of the heart and cardiovascular system, which can also be attributed to the compound, oligomeric proanthocyanidin. This flavonoid can not only help lower the level of LDL cholesterol, but its oxidation as well.
Oxidation of LDL cholesterol is the main risk factor for the accumulation of plaque on the walls of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which in turn can result in health problems, like coronary heart disease. Grape seed oil has also been claimed to increase the level of HDL cholesterol, which helps reduce the risk for heart disease and atherosclerosis.
Acne and Dermatitis
The linoleic acid found in grape seed oil is believed to have anti-allergen and anti-inflammatory properties, for which it may help alleviate skin conditions, like acne, dermatitis, allergic reactions, and atopic eczema. The oil can be applied topically on the affected area of the skin to get relief from these skin problems.
The anti-inflammatory properties of oligomeric proanthocyanidin, found in grape seed oil can also help relieve the pain and swelling associated with hemorrhoids. This oil can provide relief in bleeding hemorrhoids as well. Bleeding can be a sign of infection, in which case grape seed oil can help cure it.
Varicose and Spider Veins
Grape seed oil may help prevent the abnormal dilation of veins and hence, prove beneficial in conditions, like varicose vein and spider veins. These two conditions are usually caused by the damage of the blood vessels and their inability to maintain the normal flow of blood. Grape seed oil can improve circulation, and help treat varicose veins.
For the diabetic patients, grape seed oil can help prevent certain complications associated with this disease. One major complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy, which results when the small blood vessels that supply the nerves get damaged, due to the elevated levels of blood sugar.
Grape seed oil may provide relief in both peripheral neuropathy and diabetic retinopathy. Gamma-linoleic acid found in grape seed oil might help reverse the nerve damage caused by peripheral neuropathy, while procyanidin may help prevent diabetic retinopathy, by improving circulation and strengthening the capillary wall.
Cosmetic Benefits of Grape Seed Oil
Today, grape seed oil has found a wide range of applications in the cosmetic industry, for its emollient properties. It is an important ingredient in a number of hair care products, lip balms, creams, and lotions. The following are some of the noteworthy cosmetic benefits of this oil.
- Grape seed oil is an excellent moisturizer for all skin types. It nourishes, moisturizes, and maintains the elasticity of the skin, and makes it smooth and supple.
- The oil has astringent properties, for which it can be used as a skin toner.
- The antioxidant compounds present in grape seed oil help combat the effects of the free radicals on skin, and thus prevent the appearance of premature wrinkles and fine lines.
- This oil helps make the skin tone even and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
- Grape seed oil can protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation of the sun, and minimize the risk of sunburn. It can help reduce skin pigmentation and age spots as well.
- Grape seed oil can also be used as a hair conditioner, and a natural remedy for dandruff.
Cooking with Grape Seed Oil
The smoke point of grape seed oil is approximately 421 degree Fahrenheit, for which it can be used as a cooking oil at moderate temperature. It is usually ideal for stir-frying, sauteing, deep-frying, and also for salad dressings, and baking.
The oil has light taste and flavor, and so, does not overpower the original flavor of the dish. This oil can also be used as a base for oil infusions of herbs and spices, such as garlic and rosemary.
To sum up, you can use grape seed oil in a number of ways, right from cooking various dishes, to get relief from certain ailments, or for getting smooth and glowing skin. No major side effect of this oil has been discovered so far. However, people allergic to grapes are advised to avoid any type of grape seed extract.
Individuals using anticoagulant medications and phenacetin, should also talk to their health care provider regarding the use of grape seed oil, as oligomeric proanthocyanidin found in the oil may react with these medications.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.