Grape seed is just what it sounds like—the seed of grapes. Unlike the flesh of the fruit, grape seed has bitter qualities yet still imparts a low level of sweetness. Whole grape seed is the origin of grape seed oil, which is a by-product created during the process of making wine and now a popular cosmetic and cooking oil valued for its high smoke point. Grape seed is also an abundant source of nutrients, including flavonoids, linoleic acid, vitamin E and various antioxidant compounds, most notably resveratrol.
Grapes are native to Asia and were later introduced to Europe and North America, where many red, green and purple varieties are now cultivated.
The ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans were the first to capture the restorative properties of grapes, usually in the form of wine.
Today, we know that the skin, flesh and seeds contain oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes, a fancy term for a class of potent antioxidants. The whole seeds are used to make liquid extracts and tinctures.