For thousands of years, cultures worldwide have been consuming and utilizing grape plants, and reaping their benefits. The sap of grapevines has been used to make ointments, the leaves have been used topically to reduce inflammation, unripe grapes have been used for sore throats, and ripe grapes have been used to treat constipation. Even grape seeds have been believed to treat a plethora of conditions, from venous insufficiency to heart disease, to cancer.
Grape seeds and grape seed extract have a number of important components that make them an incredible health food and supplement. Among these are vitamin E, flavonoids, linoleic acid, resveratrol, and oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes (OPCs).
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts on many levels in the body, and it is important for the proper function of many organs. It is used as an antioxidant, and it is important for healthy skin, eyes, and immunity. Vitamin E is effective for treatment in some movement disorders, such as ataxia, and it is possibly helpful in the treatment of various disorders, including dementia, anemia, dysmenorrhea, and PMS, among many others.
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), and is considered an essential fatty acid. It is important to consume essential fatty acids (EFAs) because the body cannot make them on its own. There is evidence to suggest that omega-6 PUFAs can increase metabolism, boost immunity, and modulate cholesterol levels. Modern Western diets tend to contain far too much omega-6 fats and should shift focus to increase omega-3 fats to a ratio of about 1.5:1 Omega 6:Omega 3. However, healthy plant sources of omega 6 EFAs can still be sourced as part of a well-balanced diet.
Flavonoids are polyphenols, which are compounds that are found in plants. They have been shown to be important antioxidants which protect cells against harmful free-radicals. There is evidence that flavonoids can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and may inhibit cancer.
OPCs are polyphenols with antioxidant effects. They have been researched much more recently, and they have the potential to be anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and vasodilatory properties. In addition they may reduce lymphatic and venous edema.
Resveratrol is another polyphenol. It is thought to act to reduce inflammation, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This could, in turn, reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Grape seeds can be consumed fresh while eating grapes, pulsed into a powder form to add to other foods, or taken as supplement in the form of grape seed extract. As with any supplement, grape seeds and grape seed extract can cause potential side effects and should be taken with caution. Consult with your Doctor of Chiropractic to determine if this is the right addition to your nutritional wellness.
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed
1 medium sweet potato (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, and tortilla chips, for serving
In a 4-6 quart slow-cooker, combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, and 1 cup water.
Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
Serve the chili with the sour cream, scallions, radishes, and tortilla chips.