Not all that you find in nature are healthy. And not all are harmful either.
This means something can either be healthy, or not. Right?
Well, we have exceptions. One of them is grape seed oil.
And let me tell you – this exception is beyond fascinating. Which is why you need to know about it. Right. Now.
Grape Seed Oil – A Brief
As the name obviously suggests, the oil is pressed from the seeds of grapes. The oil is hence a by-product of winemaking.
The oil has been in existence for over 6,000 years. As per certain sources, the Europeans had used the oil to treat diseases related to the eye and skin. And since the turn of the 20th century, grape seed oil started garnering attention from scientists and the like.
What makes anything what it is are its contents – and here, we take a look at the nutritional profile of grape seed oil.
Now, we get to the real topic. A sizzling debate, if you ask. Some say the oil works wonders. And a certain lot feels otherwise. Where does the truth lie? Keep your eyes rolling.
Is Grape Seed Oil Safe To Consume?
This question primarily boils down to one factor – omega-6 fatty acids. Grape seed oil contains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. But the former is present in larger amounts.
And that can cause a problem.
Grape seed oil has the highest levels of omega-6 fatty acids – as compared to other vegetable oils. Though omega-6s are not bad by themselves, they can cause complications when consumed in excess. Certain potential conditions include increased inflammation, elevated risk of obesity, and increased cholesterol levels.
Also, after all, it is an oil. Which is why one must consume it sparingly as it contains fat. For women, the dosage is 5 to 6 teaspoons per day, and in the case of men, it is 6 to 7 teaspoons. This dosage is for any oil.
Another important factor to consider is the processing. Most types of commercially available grape seed oil are processed – they are made using chemical solvents like hexane, which is considered a neurotoxin. We don’t know what chemical solvents like this can do to humans – irrespective of the amounts in which they are consumed.
Though grape seeds are rich in nutrients, certain studies state that it is not the case with the oil. Most antioxidants, including the proanthocyanidins from the grape seeds, were not present in the oil (1).
But we can’t come to a conclusion yet. Not until we have seen the good and bad sides of the oil.
The Good Side
1. For Inflammation And General Health
As per an Iranian study, grape seed oil can improve inflammatory conditions in overweight women (2).
And as we have seen, the oil has a higher percentage of omega-6 fatty acids. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, omega-6s can have beneficial effects towards allergies, arthritis, ADHD, and breast cancer (3). The oil also contains linoleic acid, which is converted into gamma-linoleic acid in the body – and that has a protective role in the body.
It is rich in vitamin E that enhances the immune system (4).
Also, the oil contains no trans fat. One doesn’t have to specifically talk about the dangers of trans fat or hydrogenated fats – and the oil contains none of those.
2. For Cooking
When it comes to cooking, oils with high smoke points have an edge. Such oils are good for stir-frying and high-heat frying. Grape seed oil has a moderately high smoke point (400o F), and it is a good option for sautéing over medium heat (5). It could be bad for deep frying, though (6).
3. For Skin
The oil has benefits for the face and skin as well. Most cosmetic products prefer grape seed oil as their base. The oil, in its ideal thickness, is also rich in vitamins C, D, and E – all of which help in reducing wrinkles and scars. The polyphenols and antioxidants in the oil help treat acne as well. The oil also acts as an able moisturizer – balancing both the dry and oily patches on the skin. As a toner, the oil can penetrate pores and cleanse the skin – thereby curing breakouts.
Vitamins C and E and the fatty acids make the oil a wonderful emollient. It helps remove stretch marks as well. The oil’s restructuring qualities help the skin retain its normal structure, consequently diminishing the appearance of stretch marks. The linoleic acid can also aid in eczema treatment.
One can use the oil for massage therapy too as it gets easily absorbed by the skin.
4. For Hair
Talking about hair, given the oil is lighter than olive or coconut oils, it moisturizes and conditions your hair without leaving it feeling greasy. It also reduces dandruff and hair loss and strengthens the hair. The vitamin E in the oil helps build the hair tissue, and the linoleic acid in the oil promotes hair growth.
5. For Sex
Grape seed oil can act as a wonderful lubricant as well.
Grape seed capsules have benefits too. The capsules are standardized to contain about 80% of proanthocyanidins, which have excellent health properties. The capsules contain the extract though (most often), and help lower cholesterol, promote circulation, and aid in cancer prevention.
That’s the good side of it. But you can’t know everything about something unless you peer into its dark side.
The Bad Side
Herbs, like grape seed and its oil, might contain components that could interact with other medications and supplements. Certain common side effects include nausea, itching, stomach upset, headache, and sore throat (7).
Other severe allergic reactions to the oil include rashes, hives, difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face and mouth, and tightness in the chest (8).
We sure did discuss that not all omega-6s cause inflammation. Yes – but grape seed oil might also contain those omega-6s that do. As we have already discussed in the beginning, a diet extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, cholesterol, and obesity.
According to one Brazilian study, the beneficial effects of grape seed oil discovered in studies happened in small control groups and not in large scale research. This throws a skeptic light on the much-acclaimed benefits of the oil (9).
As per another report, though the extract of grape seed might have significant health benefits, there is no direct evidence substantiating the oil’s desirable effects (10). And coming to calories, grape seed oil could be a little on the higher end. One tablespoon of the oil contains about 120 calories.
You can also substitute grape seed oil with canola (rich in monounsaturated fatty acids that are good for the heart), coconut (rich in lauric acid that has immune-boosting effects), or sesame (rich in antioxidants that help lower blood pressure) oils.
Talking about dosage, there is no specified amount. Certain studies have prescribed 100 to 300 milligrams of the oil a day, but otherwise, no one knows the upper limit (11).
The Best Type Of Grape Seed Oil You Can Get
Before we figure out what the best type of grape seed oil is, let’s take a brief look at how the oil is made.
The oil, obviously, is made from grapes. But how it is made is of importance. It is a leftover by-product of the winemaking process. The wine is made by pressing the juice out of the fruit and leaving the seeds behind. These seeds are then crushed, and the oil is extracted from them.
This extraction of oils can happen in multiple ways. One is cold-pressing the oil. The seeds are pressed with a modern steel press. Cold-pressed oils retain their aroma, flavor, and nutrition. They also retain their wonderful benefits.
Another way is introducing chemical solvents (like hexane, as we saw before) and then following a lengthy process to draw the oils out of the seeds. Most modern industrial machines even heat the oil to extremely high temperatures – and we don’t want this as the oil is completely destroyed in the process.
This is why how a particular grape seed oil is prepared is of major importance. The oil contains fat, and heating it (which is what most usually is done) can turn it into bad fat. The oil’s molecular composition changes. It turns rancid and has undesirable effects.
Hence, you need to choose that grape seed oil that is the least processed. Look for the indication on the bottle.
So what now?
We know that omega-3s are the best. And omega-6s are not as healthy. And since grape seed oil is high in the latter, it may not be the ideal choice most of the time (and for most people).
You can use other healthy oils (like olive oil) for cooking, and make use of grape seed oil for its skin and hair benefits. In cooking, maybe once a while. That’s all.
And we have a bonus for you – if you are looking for organic grape seed oil, here you go.
Tell us how this post has helped you. Do leave a comment in the box below.
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