Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins: The Bioflavonoids With Clout

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Filed Under: Food and Nutrition, Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins: The Bioflavonoids With Clout

Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) may be a mouthful to pronounce, but once in your system, they get right to work doing wonderful things. They help fight off heart disease, slow down aging, and boost eye health. In my book, they have earned rights to the elite status of universal antioxidant.

Many of you have heard of polyphenols, flavonoids, flavones, Pycnogenol (pinebark extract), grapeseed extract, catechins, tannins, quercetin, and flavonol. You've also probably heard about the benefits of red wine, green tea, and grape juice. All have something to do with OPCs.

OPCs are bioflavonoids discovered almost 50 years ago and available from approximately 6,000 flavonoids in plants from around the world. Although not produced in the body, they are present in most fruits and vegetables in small amounts and are abundant in grape seeds and pine bark.

Not only are OPCs readily available in food, they're also extremely bioavailable. That means they can be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream—usually within 15 to 30 minutes of ingestion—and can easily cross the blood-brain barrier to protect the brain from free radical stress. Therefore, their benefits are felt almost immediately throughout the body!

Looking at some of the benefits linked to OPCs is like looking at a shopping list for a long and healthy life. Let me list just some of the amazing discoveries about this simple wonder nutrient. OPCs have been shown to:

  • prevent the oxidation of LDL "bad" cholesterol, thereby lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • reduce cholesterol plaque buildup on blood vessel walls
  • decrease blood stickiness and thus excessive blood clotting
  • protect against many types of eye conditions including diabetic retinopathy (the most common cause of blindness in diabetics), cataracts, and glaucoma
  • increase the strength and elasticity of capillaries, improving vascular function
  • reduce swelling, edema, inflammation, and degeneration of veins, helping to prevent circulation problems and varicose veins
  • decrease discomfort associated with menopause and premenstrual syndrome
  • improve blood vessel elasticity and lower blood pressure by having an "ACE-inhibiting effect"

If you're not already convinced that OPCs are a combination healer and fountain of youth, let me tell you that OPCs have also been linked to fighting chronic fatigue, arthritis, allergies, Alzheimer's disease, as well as other degenerative diseases. Grapeseed extract and pinebark extract (under the patented brand name Pycnogenol) are great ways to get your daily dose of OPCs. I recommend 30-60 mg daily.

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