The Power of the OPCs
The scientific literature is replete with research highlighting a specific group of polyphenols: oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). OPCs are naturally occurring plant metabolites that have high antioxidant activity, as well as many other mechanisms of action.
Proanthocyanidins in general are found in a variety of plants and plant foods. OPCs in particular are some of the most abundant polyphenolic substances presently available and are found in a variety of foods including:
- Grape skin and seeds
- Apples and pears
- Red wine
- Blueberries, cranberries, bilberries, black currants, strawberries and raspberries
- Hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios
In addition to their antioxidant activity, OPCs have been shown to support immunity and healthy inflammation, as well as cardiovascular health including lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation and capillary health. Because of the wide range of influence OPCs have in the human body, this class of polyphenols can help support health on many levels. OPCs have also been shown to support bone, brain, eyes and skin.
It can be difficult for many patients to get enough of these valuable polyphenolic compounds from diet alone. That’s why OPC dietary supplements have become so popular. One of the most abundant dietary supplement sources of OPCs is grape seed extract.
Because the primary source of grape seeds and skins for grape seed extract supplements come from the wine industry, it can be important to recommend a supplement that is tannin free. Some patients can have reactions to tannins from wine and from supplements that contain tannins. OPCs are available in capsules, tablets, liquids, powders and topical skin care products. Some healthcare professionals consider OPCs to be a foundational dietary supplement for many patients.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), “grape seed extract is generally well tolerated when taken in moderate amounts.” The NCCIH cautions that grape seed extract may not be safe for patients with bleeding disorders, those who are on anticoagulant medications, or those who are about to undergo a surgical procedure.
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Ravindranathan P, Pasham D, Balaji U, et al. Carcinogenesis. 2018;39(6):767-777.
Toden S, Ravindranathan P, Gu Jinghua, et al. Scientific Reports. 2018;3335, Feb 20.
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