Brain Protector: Evidence that grape seed extract lowers risk of dementia

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) report the first direct evidence that grape seed extract affects specific proteins in healthy brains in ways that may protect against future age-related dementia.

“This is the first identification of specific molecules in mammalian tissues that are changed in response to oral intake of complex dietary supplements like grape seed extract,” said author Helen Kim, PhD.

Kim’s team analyzed global protein changes in the brains of rats fed a high, but non-toxic level, of grape seed extract (GSE) in their normal diet.

“Our studies were carried out in relatively young adult rats — not aged or diseased — suggesting that taking grape seed extract and similar supplements could have effects before onset of disease later in life,” she added.

She cautioned that the results of the study do not prove that GSE protects against age-related development of dementias — “that would be too good to be true; a conservative interpretation would be that the results are consistent with our hypothesis, that taking GSE may be neuroprotective.”

In a separate study in the Journal of Nutrition, also published this month, Kim and some of the same colleagues found that GSE was protective in an animal model of breast cancer — but that the benefit did not show up when the dietary supplement was fed to rats in a diet based on milk-casein protein. It only showed up when GSE was given in a more crude, plant protein-based rodent diet.

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Dec 22, 2004