Can You Eat Grape Seeds?
Grapes are a popular fruit that many people enjoy for their juiciness.
Most grapes found at grocery stores today are seedless, but some contain seeds.
Similarly to other crops, seeded grapes are grown from seeds, although they’re a result of a genetic mutation that prevents the hard seed exterior from forming. Their vines are grown via a method called cutting, which is similar to cloning and doesn’t require seeds ( 1 ).
This article examines whether grape seeds are safe to eat, as well as if there are any risks or benefits to doing so.
Grape seeds are small, crunchy, pear-shaped seeds found in the middle of seeded grapes. Grapes may have one or several seeds inside.
Some people find that grape seeds have a bitter flavor. While they may not be the tastiest, they’re harmless for most people to eat. If you choose not to spit them out, it’s OK to chew and swallow them.
In fact, ground up grape seeds are used to make grape seed oil and grape seed extract, which have become popular health foods.
However, certain populations may want to avoid eating grape seeds. Some research has found that grape seed extract has blood-thinning properties, which could interfere with blood-thinning medications or be unsafe for people with bleeding disorders ( 2 , 3 , 4 ).
Still, most people likely wouldn’t be at high risk of this interaction simply by eating a reasonable amount of whole seeded grapes. To be safe, always speak with your medical provider to discuss potential risks.
Grape seeds are safe for the general public to consume. While their natural blood-thinning properties may interfere with blood-thinning medications and should be discussed with your physician, this is likely a low risk.
Grape seeds are rich in several plant compounds that may offer additional health benefits when eating grapes.
For instance, they’re high in proanthocyanidins, an antioxidant-rich polyphenol that gives plants their red, blue, or purple color ( 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 ).
Antioxidants are compounds known to reduce inflammation and protect your body from oxidative stress, which can ultimately lead to metabolic syndrome and chronic disease ( 9 ).
Proanthocyanidins from grape seeds may also help reduce swelling and improve blood flow ( 3 ).
Antioxidant-rich compounds called flavonoids, specifically gallic acid, catechin, and epicatechin, are also found in grapes, with the highest amounts in the seeds (10).
These flavonoids have free-radical-scavenging and anti-inflammatory properties, which may be especially beneficial for your brain. In fact, research suggests that they may delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s ( 11 , 12 ).
Grapes also contain melatonin, which becomes most concentrated in the seeds as grapes ripen ( 13 ).
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates circadian rhythms like your sleep pattern. Ingesting melatonin may help induce fatigue and sleepiness and improve sleep quality. It also acts as an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties ( 14 , 15).
Grape seeds are a rich source of antioxidants, flavonoids, and melatonin, which may support heart and brain health, better sleep, and normal circulation.
Grape seeds are used to make dietary supplements, such as grape seed extract (GSE), which many people take for its potential anti-inflammatory and circulation-boosting properties.
GSE is made by grinding grape seeds after they’ve been extracted from grapes and drying them.
It’s a concentrated source of antioxidants, which may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, slow aging, and protect you from chronic diseases like certain cancers ( 8 , 16 , 17 ).
GSE also contains gallic acid, a compound that some animal and test-tube studies have shown inhibits plaque formation in the brain, which can lead to neurodegenerative disease ( 12 ).
One study found that oral intake of up to 2,500 mg of GSE for 4 weeks was found to be generally safe and well tolerated in humans ( 18 ).
Whole grape seeds can also be purchased. These are typically meant to be used to make tinctures or extracts, or crushed and added to teas, to reap their potential benefits.
Some people may experience nausea or upset stomach from grape seed supplements, but GSE is generally considered safe, and minimal adverse effects have been reported ( 19 ).
Because GSE is much more concentrated than eating seeded grapes, using it should be discussed with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re taking blood-thinning medications ( 2 , 3 , 4 ).
Generally, there’s a lack of evidence regarding the safety of grape seed supplement use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
One study in maternal rats showed that ingesting grape seed procyanidin extract (GSPE) had negative effects on offspring, including insulin resistance. As such, it’s best for pregnant or lactating populations to avoid using it ( 20 ).
The most popular grape seed supplement is sold as grape seed extract (GSE), which may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. You can also buy whole grape seeds to prepare into tinctures or tea yourself.
Though most grapes in supermarkets today are seedless, you may still find some varieties with seeds. This article reviews whether you can safely eat grape seeds.