Don’t you hate when you go to research something only to go down a rabbit hole of endless confusion?
Looking up grapeseed oil (Vitis vinifera) in the dictionary will do just that. The “exact” definition reads:
oil extracted from the residue of grapes that have been juiced.
If grapeseed oil has been making you lose sleep because you just can’t figure out what it’s good for, bad for, or if it’s even worth using, then no worries.
By the end of this article, you will have some answers and hopefully be able to sleep again. :)
What is grapeseed oil?
Grapeseed oil is a wonderful oil to use both in aromatherapy (as a carrier oil) as well as in cooking.
To start with, you’ll find a number of names for this oil:
- Extrait de Feuille de Raisin
- Extrait de Peau de Raisin
- Extrait de Pepins de Raisin
- Huile de Pépins de Raisin
- Vitis vinifera L.
- Vitis coignetiae Pulliat, and others
You may also hear descriptors of grapeseed, including:
- Oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes
- Procyanidolic oligomers
Now to the history and today. According to Ronald Jackson in a 2016 publication of Reference Module in Food Science, there are an estimated 15,000 named cultivars.
For hundreds of years, winemakers brooded over the fact that at the end of the process of making wine, they were left with tons of material that just went to waste.
While the seeds of grapes and the oil contained within had been used for hundreds of years, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that a small production of the oil began in the Italian countryside.
Flash forward to 1918 France, when an astute businessman realized that letting all of the wine material go to waste was flushing money down the toilet. He saw that starting large scale production of the oil was the answer.
The process has seen its share of upgrades and streamlines in the past century. Now, grapeseed oil is made by either being cold pressed, solvent-extracted, or through both methods combined. Either way, the steps are:
- The seeds are mechanically removed from the grapes that have already been pressed.
- The excess pulp is removed by washing the seeds.
- Seeds are then dried and ground.
- The ground seeds are preheated and hydraulically pressed.
- Finally, they settle and are then refined, bleached, and winterized, garnering about a 17% yield.
When a solvent is used to produce the oil, it supposedly smells better and creates a more shelf-stable product. However, the residual chemical, frequently hexane, is left in trace amounts.
Unfortunately, pressing followed by the use of solvents seems to be the most common means of getting oil from seeds worldwide.
Another option for manufacturers is carbon dioxide supercritical extraction, which, for grape seeds, yields about 12% oil.
Today, you can procure oils made from particular types of grapes, like chardonnay. Most of the oils available are exported from France, Peru, and Spain.
Grapeseed oil vs grapeseed extract:
One of the main differences between grapeseed extract and grapeseed oil is the extract’s antioxidant properties, which give it some unique benefits. Grapeseed extract is less than 50 years old, as production began in the 1970s. It is used as a dietary supplement for various reasons, including:
- Reducing inflammation
- Wound healing
- Venous insufficiency
From ancient Greece through today, grapes have been used for various health purposes. Back then, the fruit, leaves, and sap were all used.
Now we have wine, which has numerous studies to back its health benefits.
Research has even shown that grapeseed extract has oligomeric proanthocyanidin, which is a beneficial antioxidant compound found in the extracts of both the seed and skin.
This compound is what likely gives the extract its wound-healing capabilities.
There may be other health benefits of grapeseed extract as well, but science is still working on proving them. These include heart benefits such as lowering heart rate and systolic pressure.
Moreover, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is supporting preliminary research on the extract for high blood iron levels, medically termed “hereditary hemochromatosis.”
Even more exciting is that they’re supporting research on the extract being used for Alzheimer’s.
Furthermore, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is supporting their own preliminary research on the extract for multiple types of cancer, including colon, lung, and prostate.
Other reasons people have taken the extract, with or without scientific support, are:
- Antioxidant supplementation
- Cardiovascular issues such as poor circulation due to chronic venous insufficiency and high cholesterol.
- Eye diseases caused by diabetes
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Reduce swelling from injuries
- Skin damage
- Wound healing
The extract is relatively safe to take. It’s been tested in moderate amounts for up to 14 weeks. Doses have not been conclusively determined, but most are between 100-300 milligrams/day. This is the range used in studies as well as what has been prescribed in Europe.
There has not been a high limit established, so use common sense.
As always, precaution should be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, you shouldn’t take it if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking medicines like aspirin, warfarin, or other blood thinners.
Do not take it in combination with cancer treatments, certain heart medications, including aspirin, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The latter include Aleve, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen sodium.
Finally, do not take it if you have a surgery scheduled. Always consult with your doctor before starting any new medication, and be sure to alert them when you do.
Are there side effects of grapeseed extract?
As with anything, there can be adverse side effects to taking this extract. For instance, you may experience:
- Itchy scalp
Grapeseed Oil Uses
There are a number of uses for grapeseed oil at home.
If you have grapeseed oil on hand, you have likely wondered if cooking with the oil is a good idea. Or you may have wondered if you can fry with grapeseed oil.
The answer to both is yes, you can.
When determining what oil to fry with, you have to consider whether it has a high smoke point or not. In layman’s terms, that is as hot as you can get the oil before it starts to smoke, which is dangerous due to the harmful free radicals and toxic fumes created.
This makes grapeseed oil an excellent choice whether you are baking, sauteing, stir-frying, or whatever else you have up your pot holders.
The light green oil has a clean, light, and neutral flavor, so you can use it on salads or in salad dressing, too. Since it tastes like virtually nothing at all, it will make a great base without overpowering the final result.
Grapeseed oil contains omega 6s and 9s, as well as vitamin E. Contrary to some sources, it doesn’t contain omega-3.
While this makes it good for you on the inside when you use it in cooking, it makes it beneficial for your skin, too.
You can use the oil in balms, body oils, creams, face oils, and lotions. The oil’s properties make it particularly suitable for combination or oily skin, as well as for those prone to pimples.
Grapeseed Oil Benefits
Grapeseed oil still possesses vitamin E after the manufacturing process. It offers the benefits of being antioxidant, restorative, restructuring, and smoothing.
Here are a few of the oil’s many benefits.
Improves Viscoelasticity of the Skin
A paper titled “Assessment of viscoelasticity and hydration effect of herbal moisturizers using bioengineering techniques” was published in a 2010 edition of the Pharmocognancy Magazine.
It showed how multiple types of moisturizers including ingredients like aloe vera, seed oils, essential oils, and more increased skin hydration and elasticity.
Grapeseed oil was included in the 10th and 18th variation, out of 20.
The 10ths variation’s ingredients were: Kapoor kachari, Chandan, Nimba, Ghrit kumari, Ushir, Gulabjal, Tulasi, Haridra, Yastimadhu, Malai, Grapeseed oil, Olive oil, Badam oil, Keshar, Bhavpralash, Tankan amla (Boric acid), and Rastarangni.
In the 18th, only Grapeseed, Wheat germ oil, vitamin E, and Vitamin F were listed.
Both had a high success rate, even after three weeks.
Dermal Wound Healing
A study called “Dermal wound healing properties of redox-active grape seed proanthocyanidins” was published in the October 2002 issue of Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
Angiogenesis is crucial in wound healing, as it is the process of new blood cells forming from existing ones. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is considered to be a leading catalyst to this.
In this study, the researchers were looking at grapeseed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) and its effect on VEGF in wounds.
They found it had a potentiating effect at the transcriptional level. Basically, GSPE increases VEGF which helps the angiogenesis process advance quicker, thereby healing the wound at a faster pace when applied topically.
Is grapeseed oil good for you?
The extract is good for you in most cases, but all of the goodness attributed to that is stripped out of the oil, except for a bit of vitamin E.
While not necessarily “bad for you,” there is really no reason for internal use other than in cooking.
Well, for all of the people who believe they can down grapeseed oil for weight loss, I have some bad news for you.
Looking at the nutritional facts, there are 3.9 milligrams of vitamin E in a tablespoon of the oil, which is 19% of the USDA recommended daily amount.
Upon further investigation, you will see there are no other vitamins.
There is nothing wrong with using grapeseed oil if you are using it to cook with or for your skin.
Personally, I would stick with using it for your skin, because even for eating, there are better and healthier choices, like virgin, cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil.
For that matter, choosing any naturally-occurring oil that doesn’t need to go through any chemical process is always a better choice.
If you do want to cook with it, find a reputable source. Make sure it is labeled correctly and is food grade. It should not have anything in it but what it is supposed to – grapeseed oil.