Antioxidants to the Rescue
By Vera Tweed
Two antioxidants—grape seed and Pycnogenol—are particularly effective at lowering blood pressure, protecting the heart, and improving blood sugar.

Two antioxidants—grape seed and Pycnogenol—are particularly effective at lowering blood pressure, protecting the heart, and improving blood sugar.

Is your diet chock full of antioxidants? If not, two powerful antioxidants offer complementary benefits: grape seed extract and Pycnogenol, a proprietary extract of French maritime pine bark. Fresh vegetables and fruits are rich in antioxidants, but most of us don’t follow an ideal diet. “A lot of oxidative stress comes from food,” says C. Tissa Kappagoda, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California, Davis.

Kappagoda explains food liabilities this way: A bagel and cream cheese or bacon and eggs for breakfast elevate internal levels of oxidation (think of it as rusting or butter turning rancid) for the next five hours. A mid-morning donut, a fast-food lunch, and other popular foods will keep oxidation raging.

Eating three-quarters of a cup of berries with breakfast and making more healthful choices throughout the day will reverse the pattern, says Kappagoda. But he adds, “An extract can help to ameliorate some of the effects.”

Grape Seed Extract
In human trials, grape seed extract has reduced cardiovascular risks among type 2 diabetics, improved the health of patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and reduced blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.

In his studies, Kappagoda has tested MegaNatural-BP, a proprietary form of grape seed extract, and found that it significantly lowers blood pressure. It also reduces levels of oxidized cholesterol and may help in additional ways to prevent diabetes and heart disease. The dosages below apply to MegaNatural-BP, the form of grape seed extract tested at the University of California, Davis. It is available in many supplements. For other forms, follow product directions.

  • For elevated blood pressure or blood sugar or where there are risk factors, such as excess weight or abdominal fat: 300 mg daily
  • For health maintenance: 150 mg daily

Pycnogenol History
The scientific literature on Pycnogenol includes more than 70 human trials, with a total of approximately 6,000 people, showing that it is a potent antioxidant with strong anti-inflammatory effects. Pycnogenol dilates and improves the health of blood vessels, reduces formation of dangerous blood clots, improves blood-sugar function, helps wounds to heal, and relieves symptoms of ADHD among children.

Snapshot of recommended daily doses:

  • For overall health maintenance: 20 mg
  • To prevent heart disease: 25 mg, and 50 to 100 mg with known risks, such as high blood pressure
  • To lower blood sugar in diabetics: 50 mg once or twice daily
  • For inflammatory conditions: 30 mg or more
  • To relieve menstrual cramps: 30 mg once or twice daily
  • For osteoarthritis or asthma: 100 mg



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