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
  • Bilberries
  • Leaves on a bilberry bush
  • Cranberries
  • Birch
  • Strawberries
  • Gingko biloba 
  • Blueberries
  • 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.   

OPC Supplementation

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 Accessed on 3/23/23 
Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins. Available at Accessed on 3/23/23 
OPC. Available at Accessed on 3/23/23 
10 Benefits of Grape Seed Extract Based on Science. Available at Accessed on 3/23/23 
Integrative Medicine for ADHD Dietitians. Available at Accessed on 3/23/23 
Grape Seed Extract. Available at Accessed on 3/24/23 
Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical effects of Pinus pinaster bark extract. Available at Accessed on 3/24/23 
Sarah Hammaker, RDN

About Sarah Hammaker

Sarah Hammaker, RDN is a clinical dietitian working primarily in long term care and acute rehabilitation hospital settings in PA. She holds certificates of training in the areas of Adult Weight Management as well as Integrative and Functional Nutrition. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and their four children. She loves running and being outdoors. Her hobbies include reading, planting and shopping.

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