Dietitian Blog | Aug 29 2023
OPCs: The super antioxidant with promising health benefits
If you have never heard of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), you are not alone. OPCs have recently been of interest to functional medicine practitioners and registered dietitians. Due to the powerful nature of this antioxidant, consuming a diet rich in OPCs has been suggested to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, liver disease, and other chronic conditions.
What are OPCs?
OPCs are natural, active substances found in plants that can have a positive impact on health outcomes. OPCs belong to the flavonol family and are part of a subgroup called polyphenols. They are found in various foods and plants such as grape seeds, pine bark, blueberries, nuts, the skin of red grapes and peanuts, red wine, apples, pomegranate, and green tea. They can promote beneficial effects on the body when consumed as part of a balanced diet and overall healthy lifestyle.
How do OPCs work?
OPCs are mighty antioxidants that prevent damage to our bodies from free radicals (molecules that can damage healthy cells). OPCs work to neutralize oxygen radicals that may cause excess inflammation in the body.
Benefits of consuming OPCs
The benefits of consuming OPCs are linked to a wide variety of health benefits including the following:
- Reduction of blood pressure and improvement of blood flow
- Reduction of oxidative damage caused by free radicals
- Improvement in collagen levels in the skin and increased bone strength
- Reduction of overall inflammation in the body
- Improvement in liver and kidney function
- Improvement in immunity
Food sources of OPCs
OPCs are found in common foods like grapes and berries. Below is a list of foods high in OPCs.
- Red and black grapes
- Red cabbage
- Grape seed
- Apple peel
- Red wine
- Pine bark
- Leaves on a bilberry bush
- Gingko biloba
- Dark chocolate
Are OPCs Safe?
OPCs are non-toxic, bioavailable, water-soluble bioflavonoids. They are easily absorbed by the body and have no known side effects. OPCs are not a known cure for any specific condition. Their primary role is to help the body neutralize free radicals, so it can function at optimal capacity.
While incorporating natural sources of OPCs in the diet is the ideal course of action, OPCs can also be consumed in supplement form. The two most common OPC supplements are grapeseed extract and pinus pinaster bark extract (pine bark). As with any supplementation, it is always recommended to consult your physician or other health care professional before starting any new holistic supplementation.
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Proanthocyanidins: A comprehensive Review. Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332219305359 Accessed on 3/23/23
Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins. Available at https://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=21765 Accessed on 3/23/23
OPC. Available at https://www.huhs.edu/literature/OPC.pdf Accessed on 3/23/23
10 Benefits of Grape Seed Extract Based on Science. Available at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/grape-seed-extract-benefits Accessed on 3/23/23
Integrative Medicine for ADHD Dietitians. Available at https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/THEACADEMY/aeefc8de-404e-42fe-9dcc-9ddc8d5bf41a/UploadedFiles/P2WtdU3lThejWUUDtGju_DIFM%202023%20ADHD%20Redefined%202.8.23.pdf Accessed on 3/23/23
Grape Seed Extract. Available at https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/grape-seed-extract Accessed on 3/24/23
Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical effects of Pinus pinaster bark extract. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203267/ Accessed on 3/24/23
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