I only learned about Muscadine grapes, the “All-American” grapes, in the summer of 2011, even though I’d been faithfully adding grape seed supplements to my diet since the early 90’s.
I was living in Las Vegas then, directing major poker tournaments… an extremely unhealthy occupation at that time.
Back then poker tournaments were mostly one-day events lasting on average 15 – 20 hours. There was a new tournament every day, seven days a week, for two to five weeks at a time.
The tournament room was invariably the least ventilated room in the casino, filled with cigarette and cigar smoke, packed with players from all over the world, spreading all their different germs and viruses.
The tournament director was chronically sleep-deprived, constantly shaking hands and handling increasingly filthy money, chips, and cards.
The stress was considerable. There are many situations in a poker tournament that require on-the-spot decisions (“rulings”) from the tournament director.
That sometimes-subjective ruling often determines the outcome of the hand and at times affects the awarding of huge amounts of prize money.
Tempers often flared.
I had never gotten through a single tournament without getting sick at least once, and for a tournament director, calling in sick was not an option.
After learning of and adding grape seed supplements to my diet I never got sick again, during tournaments or any other time. No colds, no flu. No hangovers. Never.
I also had many occasions to offer grape seed to players and co-workers who were struggling with the tournament conditions, or worse. Almost always with extremely positive results.
During one tournament I passed a table and watched in horror as the dealer spread the flop (the first three community cards, face up), then pick up each card, one at a time, and hold them a few inches in front of his face so that he could see what they were. I talked to him on his next break.
His name was Mike and he told me he had diabetic retinopathy.
I told Mike I had something in my room that I thought might help him, and asked him if he would take it. He said sure and I got him a bottle of grape seed.
At the next tournament, I saw Mike again. He told me that he saw his doctor a few weeks after starting with grape seed, and the doctor was amazed at the improvement – told him his left eye was the best he had ever seen it.
At another tournament, the swing-shift manager of the cash games, Kathy, told me that she had never missed a shift before, but she felt so bad that she might not be able to come back the next day, and asked if I could cover her shift if necessary.
I had been swing-shift manager of cash games at a major tournament before and it was no fun. Different responsibilities, different rulings, different clientele. I much preferred running tournaments.
But of course I told her I would cover her shift if necessary. I told her, as well, that I had something in my room that might help her, and asked if she would take it. She said sure and I got her 12 100mg capsules of grape seed. I suggested she take 4 now, 4 before bed, and 4 in the morning.
Kathy called me the next morning and said “what is it and how can I get more?” She felt fine and I didn’t have to cover her shift.
There are many health-promoting compounds in grape seeds.
In the 90’s I recall the compound getting the most attention was OPC (Oligomeric ProanthoCyanidin). OPC is an extremely potent antioxidant, offering protection from the damage caused by oxygen-free radicals, which have been linked to the development of virtually every degenerative disease.
And OPCs are one of the few nutrients that can cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can nourish and protect the brain from free-radical damage.
OPCs are also powerful collagen-binders, healing and strengthening blood vessels of every size throughout the body. Healing and strengthening tendons, ligaments, cartilage, cornea, bone, skin, gut, and intervertebral discs.
OPC tends to bind with proteins, so I take them on an empty stomach.
I remember reading in the mid-90’s that over 4 million doses of OPCs were taken around the world every day, without a known case of adverse reaction. There were said to be no known contraindications to any medications.
Today there are a few reports of minor side effects and contraindications to grape seed extract listed on medical websites. Given the huge increase in food allergies since the introduction of GMOs (coincidence?) I’m not surprised.
Muscadine grapes contain an abundance of OPC, as do other grapes.
More recent research on grapes (and wine) has focused on a compound called “Resveratrol”, which some scientists believe is the answer to the “French Paradox”, the fact that the French suffer a lower rate of heart disease than Americans, despite eating a diet that many health professionals believe promotes heart disease.
However, the French drink more red wine than Americans. And red wine is a major food source of resveratrol.
Resveratrol is a potent polyphenol with many promising health benefits. Thousands of human clinical studies have shown resveratrol to be anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and supportive of brain, heart, and joint health.
There is much research showing that resveratrol can activate sirtuins, a group of seven cellular proteins sometimes referred to as the “longevity genes”.
Research has shown that sirtuins promote longer life in laboratory animals.
In January of 2009, the TV news program “60 Minutes” ran a 12-minute segment on a company working on a synthetic resveratrol drug. That company was purchased shortly thereafter by a pharmaceutical giant for approximately $750 Million.
It seems safe to say that resveratrol is considered a very important nutrient, in both the nutritional and medical communities.
The Muscadine grape produces 40 times as much resveratrol as other grapes.
Here’s the real magic. Muscadine grapes are loaded with the ellagic acid family of compounds, which no other grape has in any significant amount. Ellagic acid compounds have been shown to reduce obesity, among other benefits.
According to a 2015 study, moderate consumption of red grapes, red grape juice, or red wine may help boost the health status of overweight people by helping them to burn fat more efficiently and avoid obesity-related complications.
The researchers found that the ellagic acid found in muscadine grapes dramatically slowed the growth of existing fat cells as well as the formation of new fat cells. Ellagic acid also improved the metabolism of fatty acids in liver cells.
In general, clinical studies have shown a link between a diet rich in polyphenols (ellagic acid is one of many) and beneficial effects on metabolic syndrome, which includes major health concerns like obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar.
Research to date also suggests that the consumption of ellagic acid may also lower inflammation and fight off other diseases.
There are other highly significant health benefits to ellagic acid that are beyond the limits of this article. Readers are encouraged to search online for “Top 5 Reasons to Eat Ellagic Acid Foods” by Dr. Josh Axe.
The reason Muscadine grapes are so superior nutritionally to other grapes is probably due to the fact that Muscadines (which are technically berries) have 20 pairs of chromosomes, while other grapes have 19 pairs.
The extra pair of chromosomes enable the Muscadine to create many additional protective and health-promoting compounds, which could explain why the Muscadine is able to thrive in the Southeast US, in the heat and humidity… conditions that would kill most other grapes.
Those compounds that protect the Muscadine from heat, fungus, and pests, appear to also protect those who eat the Muscadines.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.