With Grape Seed Extract you can …

Stave Off Hypertension

Thereby decreasing your risk for heart attack, strokes,
congestive heart failure and kidney failure

By Will Block

Vital Signs will be more easily followed in the soon-to-come world of the Tricorder (see www.xprize.org/tricorder‎).
When your heart—your engine of life—is working properly, it pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body, at first through one main artery called the aorta. The muscular walls of the aorta and the other arteries then help the heart distribute blood throughout your body.

When your heart beats, arteries expand as they fill with blood. When your heart relaxes, the arteries contract. It’s this rhythm between the heart and the arteries that powers your circulatory system and keeps your blood flowing.

However, as we age, blood pressure (BP)—the force of blood in the circulatory system—tends to rise. And if your BP rises beyond a certain point, you are more likely to have increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and kidney failure. The risk ratio for these diseases rises even when BP is only slightly higher than what is normal.

Even prehypertension (PH)— a medical classification for BP elevated above normal, but not to the level considered hypertension (high BP)—can increase these undesirable effects. Consequently, reducing your BP or even keeping it from going higher is especially important if you are susceptible to the diseases mentioned due to PH.

Among the Vital Signs

BP is usually measured at a person’s upper arm where it is expressed in terms of the systolic (maximum) pressure over diastolic (minimum) pressure and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Technically, PH is defined by a systolic BP (SBP) between 120 and 139 mmHg, or diastolic BP (DBP) between 80 and 89 mmHg, or both.

BP is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. Too much pressure (high BP) can cause arterial weakening, which in turn can lead, as already stated, to increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and kidney failure. BP is one of the vital signs along with respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and body temperature. Normal resting blood pressure in an adult is approximately 120/70 mm Hg.

The Value of Grape Seed Extract

In a recent study—conducted at the Illinois Institute of Technology and University of California, Davis—researchers tested grape seed extract (GSE) as a functional ingredient to lower BP in individuals with PH.1 A single-center, randomized, two-arm, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, 12-week, parallel study was conducted in middle-aged adults with PH.

The risk ratio for these diseases rises
even when BP is only slightly higher
than what is normal.

Twenty-nine subjects were randomized to placebo (n=17) or GSE (n=12). Subjects consumed juice containing either placebo or 300 mg/day GSE (150 mg twice daily) for 6 weeks, preceded by a 2-week placebo run-in and followed by 4-week no-beverage follow-up.

Significant Reductions of SBP and DBP

BP was measured at screening, 0, 6 and 10 weeks of intervention and blood samples were collected at 0, 3, 6 and 10 weeks of intervention. GSE significantly reduced SBP by 5.6% and DPB by 4.7% after 6 weeks of treatment.

GSE significantly reduced SBP by
5.6% and DPB by 4.7% after
6 weeks of treatment.

The Higher the Initial BP, the Better the Results

Subjects with higher initial BP experienced greater BP reduction, nearly double the effect size. Fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity also improved after 6 weeks of GSE beverage supplementation. BP returned to baseline after the 4-week discontinuation period of GSE beverage. GSE was safe and improved BP in people with PH, supporting the use of GSE as a functional ingredient in a low-energy beverage for BP control.

Phenolic Acid Concentrations

Phenolic acids are plant metabolites widely spread throughout the plant kingdom. Recent research interest in phenolic acids results from their potential protective role—through ingestion of fruits, vegetables, and teas—against oxidative damage diseases (coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancers). After 6 weeks of GSE v. placebo, total phenolic acid concentrations were 1.6 times higher, in those who were taking GSE.

A Short Scientific History for Grape Seed Extracts

This is not the first time GSE has been found to improve BP. Back in 2009, subjects with metabolic syndrome were given GSE in doses of 150 mg and 300 mg per day and compared against each other and placebo.2 The study lasted four weeks, and at the end of the study both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were lowered after treatment with GSE as compared with placebo.

Three years later, another study gave freeze-dried grape polyphenol powder to individuals who were also classified with metabolic syndrome.3 Twenty-four men (aged 30-70) were randomly assigned to consume either a freeze-dried grape polyphenol powder or a placebo for 30 days in a double-blind, crossover design, separated by a 3-week washout period.

Subjects with higher initial BP
experienced greater BP reduction,
nearly double the effect size.

Participants maintained their usual diet and physical activity during the study and abstained from consuming polyphenol-rich foods. At the end, systolic BP was lower. These results suggest that the grape powder may potentiate vasorelaxation and reduce BP along with circulating cell adhesion molecules, resulting in improvements in vascular function.

It is important to note that PH affects approximately 31% of the adult population of the United States over the age of 18 years. In a report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC-7), a systolic blood pressure of 120-139 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of 80-89 mmHg qualified as PH.4 JNC-7 also recommended that individuals considered to be prehypertensive require health-promoting lifestyle modifications to prevent cardiovascular disease. Of course, the report said nothing about preventative measures with the use of nutrients such as grape seed extract.

GSE at 300 Mg Per Day for Eight Weeks

Another recent study was undertaken to determine whether a grape seed extract (GSEP), a nutraceutical containing vasodilator phenolic compounds, lowers blood pressure in subjects with pre- hypertension.5 The subjects were randomized into a placebo or an experimental group (taking GSEP at a dose of 300 mg/day) and treated for 8 weeks. Serum lipids and blood glucose were measured at the beginning of the study and at the end.

Both the systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly lower after treatment with GSEP. The findings suggest that GSEP could be used as a nutraceutical in a lifestyle modification program for patients with pre-hypertension.

In 2013, a standardized grape seed procyanidins extract (GSPE) was tested on blood pressure, along with diet and lifestyle modifications.6 This was a controlled study involving 119 healthy, pre- and mildly hypertensive subjects. Two dosages of GSPE were evaluated (150 and 300 mg/day). After four months of treatment, a dose-dependent, improvement in all endpoints was observed in the treatment groups compared to that of the control, with blood pressure normalizing in 93% of the higher dosage (300 mg) treatment group.

Considered together, the observations suggest that GSPEs have beneficial cardiovascular effects that complement current intervention strategies in the hypertension area. The effect on blood pressure adds to the beneficial effects of GSPEs on the cardiovascular disease phenotype associated with the oxidation of membrane lipids.

Back to the Illinois/California study: not all studies with GSE have produced beneficial changes in BP, the researchers note. This is probably due to compositional differences between GSE products, populations studied (i.e. older adults may be less responsive due to the aged endothelium), or dosing issues.

Potassium Carbonate Can Also Lower Blood Pressure

“The risk of many troublesome—even deadly—health problems can be reduced with a good diet and increased by a bad one. Our diet has changed radically from what our ancestors ate 50,000 years ago, and not all of these changes have been for the good. Modern diets are likely to contain far less potassium, far more sodium, more acid forming nutrients, and less base forming nutrients than those enjoyed by our ancestors. Fortunately, an inexpensive potassium bicarbonate dietary supplement can help you to eat more like a Caveman without all that Stone Age food hunting and gathering work.

As we discuss below, potassium bicarbonate can do a lot more for you than help regulate your blood pressure. Studies of potassium supplements in humans have reported:

  • Reduced Blood Pressure
  • Increased Muscle Mass
  • Decreased Bone Loss
  • Reduced Risk of Stroke
  • Improved Endothelial Function
  • Reduced Dietary Acid Load

[From an article researched and authored by Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw]

To continue, go to the April 2009 issue of this publication (http://www.life-enhancement.com/magazine/article/2089-potassium-bicarbonate-supplementation­).

Also see “Potassium Bicarbonate for Reduced Blood Pressure and Increased Muscle Mass” (http://www.life-enhancement.com/magazine/article/2088-potassium-bicarbonate-for-reduced-blood-pressure-and-increased-muscle-mass) in the same issue

Cocoa Similarities

An interesting note: The composition of GSE used in the current study is very similar to cocoa. Research with cocoa suggests that the monomeric flavanols flavan-3-ols [(-)-epicatechin (EC) and (+)-catechin (CT)] which are responsible for the BP and vasoactive effects of cocoa7 peak in the plasma within the first several hours following consumption and are cleared by 12 hours.

Similar to cocoa, the BP-lowering properties of GSE appear to be closely linked to the up-regulation of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), resulting in increased endothelial NO and endothelial-dependent vasodilation.

The study supports the use of GSE as a functional ingredient in a low-energy beverage to reduce the risk of hypertension in an at-risk population. From a public health standpoint, every 1 mmHg reduction in SBP could prevent approximately 10,000 CHD deaths each year in the USA.8

Moreover, a recent study indicated that controlling BP in young adulthood has important implications for long-term heart health.9 Trends towards improvements in insulin and insulin sensitivity suggest that regular consumption of GSE offers metabolic benefits. If you’re concerned with your long-term health, it might not be a bad idea to start now with safe, likely-to-be-effective grape seed extract.


  1. Park E, Edirisinghe I, Choy YY, Waterhouse A, Burton-Freeman B. Effects of grape seed extract beverage on blood pressure and metabolic indices in individuals with pre-hypertension: a randomised, double-blinded, two-arm, parallel, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2016 Jan 28;115(2):226-38.
  2. Sivaprakasapillai B, Edirisinghe I, Randolph J, Steinberg F, Kappagoda T. Effect of grape seed extract on blood pressure in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. Metabolism. 2009 Dec;58(12):1743-6.
  3. Barona J, Aristizabal JC, Blesso CN, Volek JS, Fernandez ML. Grape polyphenols reduce blood pressure and increase flow-mediated vasodilation in men with metabolic syndrome. J Nutr. 2012 Sep;142(9):1626-32.
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/express.pdf. Accessed: May 26, 2016.
  5. Robinson M, Lu B, Edirisinghe I, Kappagoda CT. Effects of grape seed extract on blood pressure in subjects with pre-hypertension. J Pharm Nutr Sci. 2012;2:155-9.
  6. Belcaro G, Ledda A, Hu S, Cesarone MR, Feragalli B, Dugall M. Grape seed\ procyanidins in pre- and mild hypertension: a registry study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:313142.
  7. Schroeter H, Heiss C, Balzer J, et al. (-)-Epicatechin mediates beneficial effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on vascular function in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006;103:1024–9.
  8. Lewington S, Clarke R, Qizilbash N, et al. Age-specific relevance of usual blood pressure to vascular mortality: a meta-analysis of individual data for one million adults in 61 prospective studies. Lancet. 2002;360:1903–13.
  9. Kishi S, Teixido-Tura G, Ning H, et al. Cumulative blood pressure in early adulthood and cardiac dysfunction in middle age: the CARDIA study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65:2679-87.

Will Block is the publisher and editorial director of Life Enhancement magazine.

Ingredients in this Article

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