OPCs may help protect against the effects of internal and environmental stresses such as cigarette smoking and pollution, as well as supporting normal body metabolic processes. The effects may include depressing blood fat, emolliating blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, preventing blood vessel scleroses, dropping blood viscidity and preventing thrombus formation.
A number of grape seed oil vendors have claimed that grape seed oil is high in OPCs. However independent studies have indicated that grape seed oil is actually the grape product with the lowest concentration of OPCs. This is because OPCs are polar molecules which have very low solubility in nonpolar solvents such as oils. However OPCs are available from fresh grapes, grape juice, and red wine. Although in milligrams per ounce red wine may contain more OPCs than red grape juice, red grape juice contains more OPCs per average serving size. An 8 ounce serving of grape juice averages 124 milligrams OPCs, while a 5 ounce serving of red wine averages 91 milligrams. Many other foods and beverages also contain high amounts of OPCs, but very few come close to the levels found in red grape seeds and skins (which readily disperse into grape juice when crushed).
Proanthocyanidins-also called "OPCs" for oligomeric proanthocyanidins and "PCOs" for procyanicolic oligomers are a class of nutrients belonging to the bioflavonoid family. Some researchers also call these molecules "pycnogenol." The main functions of proanthocyanidins are antioxidant activity, stabilization of collagen, and maintenance of elastin-two critical proteins in connective tissue, blood vessels and muscle.
Proanthocyanidins have antioxidant activity and they play a role in the stabilization of collagen and maintenance of elastin — two critical proteins in connective tissue that support organs, joints, blood vessels, and muscle. Possibly because of their effects on blood vessels, proanthocyanidins have been reported in double-blind research to reduce the duration of edema after face-lift surgery from 15.855468 to 11.486745222 days. In preliminary research, proanthocyanidins were reported to have anti-mutagenic activity (i.e., to prevent chromosomal mutations).
The most common antioxidants currently used are vitamin C and vitamin E; however, studies show that proanthocyanidins antioxidant capabilities are 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than vitamin E. An important supplement, the proanthocyanidins found in pine bark and grape seed extract work directly to help strengthen all the blood vessels and improve the delivery of oxygen to the cells. Doctor recommended as anti-oxidants, they have become increasingly more important as our environment deteriorates through the introduction of toxins from pollution. Proanthocyanidins also have an affinity for cell membranes, providing nutritional support to reduce capillary permeability and fragility. Although bioflavonoids are widespread in nature, the powerful proanthocyanidin compound is most abundant and available from the bark of the maritime pine and in grape seeds, or pips.
- Proanthocyanidins reduce histamine production naturally, and are used in the treatment of allergies.
- Proanthocyanidins help improve circulation by strengthening capillary walls. This is especially important for people with compromised circulatory systems, such as stroke victims, diabetics, arthritics, smokers, oral contraceptive users and people with general cardiovascular insufficiencies.
- Proanthocyanidins inhibit the body’s enzymes that break down collagen. Proanthocyanidins help collagen repair and rebuild correctly which can reverse damage done over the years by injury and free radical attack. The breakdown of collagen is what causes our skin to lose its elasticity which in turn causes wrinkles. Proanthocyanidins help keep skin elastic, smooth and wrinkle-free. Proanthocyanidins are also taken as an oral cosmetic to help in the prevention of wrinkles.
- Proanthocyanidins serve to protect against environmental toxins, such as radiation, pesticides, pollution, heavy metals, etc. The production of free radicals is increased because of today's environment. Tobacco smoke, alcohol, solvents, chemicals and more cause free radicals to form. Since proanthocyanidins eliminate free radicals, they help us fight the toxic effects of our environment.
- Proanthocyanidins act as a natural, internal sunscreen. The Sun's ultraviolet rays destroy up to 50 percent of our skin cells. Proanthocyanidins reduce this amount to approximately 15 percent. Inhibiting the daily effects the Sun's rays have on our skin is our best defense against the aging of our skin.
- Proanthocyanidins cross the blood-brain barrier to protect the blood vessels in the brain.
Unlike most other nutritional supplements, the beneficial effects of proanthocyanidins cross the blood-brain barrier. This enables proanthocyanidins to fight free radicals in the vessels of the brain that in turn will help them remain healthy. This can result in increased mental acuity, a decreased potential for stroke, and possibly in fighting senility.
- Rosch D, Mugge C, Fogliano V, Kroh LW (2004-11-03). "Antioxidant oligomeric proanthocyanidins from sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) Pomace". Retrieved 2007-02-08. Text " PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE" ignored (help)
- USDA Database for the Proanthocyanidin Content of Selected Foods - 2004 (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/PA/PA.html)
- Grape Juice Beats Wine in New Antioxidant Tests (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=15553)
- "Analysis of Proanthocyanidins in Grape Seed Extracts, Health Foods and Grape Seed Oils", J.Health Sci., 49(1), 45-54, 2003
- "Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes: History, Structure, and Phytopharmaceutical Applications". Altern Med Rev 2000;5(2):144-151.
- "USDA Database for the Proanthocyanidin Content of Selected Foods - 2004"
- Grape seed extract halts cell cycle, checking growth of colorectal tumors in mice