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Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs)

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPCs)

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins: Are You Consuming Enough Antioxidants Everyday?

You may not come across the term Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC) often, but the word ”antioxidants” should be a bit familiar. OPCs are among the most powerful antioxidants your body requires to block harmful chemical reactions which occur due to oxidation.

Oxidation is a destructive process of oxygen that acts on your cells. It happens everyday – every time you eat, breathe, exercise, and so on. To fight the free radicals created as a result of oxidation, your body manufactures antioxidants, and also uses the antioxidants gained through consumption of different food sources.  When you get low, or are not consuming enough of these helpful antioxidants, you can fall sick.  Scientific studies reveal that incorporating antioxidants like OPCs into your diet can help promote general health and also postpone the development of several age-related diseases. Now you know why antioxidants are such a hot topic!

 

What are OPCs?

OPCs, or proanthocyanidins, are a powerful antioxidant compound present in grape seedspine bark, legumes, seeds, and certain fruits. They belong to the broad class of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are revered for their beneficial effects in health. These antioxidants are somewhat similar to the antioxidants present in green tea and red wine. Research studies show that OPCs are very powerful in preventing the oxidative damage. Due to this reason OPCs are among the most extensively researched antioxidants.

 

What are the benefits of OPCs in promoting health?

Research suggests many health benefits associated with consuming a diet rich in OPCs. Here are the potential benefits based on scientific studies.

  • Powerful antioxidant: It is estimated that OPCs antioxidant power is 20 times greater than vitamin E and 50 times greater than vitamin C (1).
  • Anti-cancer effects: Like all antioxidants, OPCs exhibit protective effects against cancer. OPCs are a potent and powerful antioxidant, and demonstrate toxic effects on cancer cell lines. One laboratory study showed that OPCs were able to selectively kill cancer cells while remaining non-toxic to normal cells.
  • Promotes healthy skin: In one study, which researched the OPCs derived from grape seed extract, it was found that the OPCs were able to bond with protein collagen to promote youthful skin. This effect was also able to improve cell health, elasticity, and flexibility. (3)
  • Boost immune function: A stream of studies have showed strong evidence on the effects of proanthocyanidins on enhancing the immune system. According to researchers these antioxidants exhibited beneficial effects in immune health via their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and modulation of immune activity, such as increasing the number of platelets and white blood cells(4,5).
  • Improves heart health: A review of studies on OPCs beneficial effect on heart health showed that these antioxidants helped by decreasing the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL), and prevented platelet clumping –  two factors which can lead to the clogging healthy arteries. Studies also showed that these antioxidants were also able to demonstrate strong blood vessel relaxing effects which is central to their protective actions of preventing the development of heart disease(6).

 

How can you be sure to get enough OPCs in your daily diet?

OPCs are found in pine bark, leaves, grape seeds and certain other fruits. Please keep in mind in order to consume optimal amounts your diet should be predominantly fresh fruits, nuts, and unprocessed cereals. Here we list some common sources of OPCs you can consume in your everyday diet.

  • Apples: Apples are a major source of proanthocyanidins in the American diet contributing to 32%.
  • Grape seeds: Grape skins and seeds are abundant in proanthocyanidins and contribute to 17.8%.
  • Raw chocolates: Raw chocolates and cacao products are the next best source of proanthocyanidins in your diet contributing to 17.9%.
  • BerriesBerry varieties like blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, and bilberries are a tasty source of proanthocyanidins. The highest concentration is found in black chokeberries, however the absorption by our body from the chokeberries is poor or inefficient.
  • Cereals and beans: Cereals sources like whole grains, sorghum, barley, pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and black eye peas are some good daily sources.
  • Other sources: Raw nuts such as almonds, hazel, pecan, pistachios, and cashews are great way to include this antioxidant into your diet. Spice powders like ground cinnamon and curry powder are also identified to be sources of OPCs.
  • Supplements: Choosing high quality supplements that give OPCs from a variety of sources can also ensure that you are getting enough of this powerful antioxidant.

 

In order to get maximum protection from oxidative damage it is imperative one consumes enough OPCs through a variety of food sources, supplements, or ideally both. This will give you plant pigments, enzymes, phytochemicals, and vitamins that are powerful antioxidants. No single antioxidant can provide you with all of the positive benefits.  A diverse diet, along with the supplementation of OPCs can help you to reduce the effects of oxidation, and reap the benefits these antioxidants have in store.

 

OptiHealth Product’s OPCXtra

To ensure you’re consuming enough OPCs in your daily diet, take a look at OPCXtra.  OPCXtra is our super antioxidant drink mix in an isotonic formula made from a combination of six major sources of bioflavonoids. Four of the sources – Grape Seed Extract, Red Wine Extract, Pine Bark Extract, and Green Tea Extract – supply a group of powerful antioxidant bioflavonoids called Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (OPC).  Follow this link to learn more about OPCXtra.


References

Ye X, Krohn RL, Liu W, et al. The cytotoxic effects of a novel IH636 grape seed proanthocyanidin extract on cultured human cancer cells. Mol Cell Biochem 1999;196:99
Shi J, Yu J, Pohorly JE, Kakuda Y. Polyphenolics in grape seeds-biochemistry and functionality.J Med Food. 2003 Winter;6(4):291-9.Gu L. et.al., Concentrations of Proanthocyanidins in Common Foods and Estimations of Normal Consumption
Santos-Buelga, C. & Scalbert, A. (2000) Proanthocyanidins and tannin-like compounds-nature, occurrence, dietary intake and effects on nutrition and health. J. Sci. Food Agric. 80:1094-1117.
Hammerstone JF et.al., Procyanidin Content and Variation in Some Commonly Consumed Foods. J. Nutr. August 1, 2000 vol. 130 no. 8 2086S-2092S 2
Leifert WR, Abeywardena MY. Cardioprotective actions of grape polyphenols. Nutr Res. 2008 Nov;28(11):729-37. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2008.08.007. 
Shi J1, Yu J, Pohorly JE, Kakuda Y.Polyphenolics in grape seeds-biochemistry and functionality. J Med Food. 2003 Winter;6(4):291-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14977436


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