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Pomegranate – the Super Antioxidant!

 

Most observers agree that there is a defined link between pomegranate antioxidants and the thwarting of cancer. Clinical trials have centered on tumor producing cancers and all indications are that the growth of tumors and cancerous cells are inhibited by the presence of Pomegranate antioxidants.

To read up on all the latest research go here.

One large problem with drinking pomegranate juice is the amount of fructose in the juice. These quick burning carbs heighten the glycemic risk in individuals who are not getting  an adequate amount of exercise. If the calories are not burned off quickly through exercise, then they will be converted into triglycerides in the blood and ultimately lodge as fat around organs.

We recommend pomegranate extract which contains no sugars but have a high antioxidant contribution.

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Twenty-five years ago, Americans knew next to nothing about pomegranates. In 1986, Lynda Resnick and her husband bought 120 acres of farmland in California. They thought they had pistachio trees. But it turned out to be pomegranate trees. What can you do with pomegranates?

The Resnicks did some research and uncovered the story of the pomegranate’s history, its versatility, and its suspected health benefits. Could this history mean they were sitting on a farm of antioxidant super heros?

Tracing the jouney of the pomegranate’s cultivation around the globe and back 4000 years, they discovered that this round red hero was such a symobol of strength in Persian culture that the army of Xerxes carried spears with pomegranates instead of spikes on the tip when they invaded Greece in 480 BC.  In ancient Eygpt, pomegranate juice was used to treat maladies from dysentery to stomach aches, as well as intestinal worms. In India, the pomegranate became a symbol of prosperity and fertility; in China, of fertility. In Isreal it was said to help prevent heart dieseae. And after the heroic furity had displayed its cancer fingting prowess in Europe, its picture was added to the British Medical Association’s hearaldic crest in tribute.

These historic anecdotes spurred the Resnicks to increase their acreage of pomegranate trees to 18,000 and fund scientific research to investigate the benefits extolled in these stories. Buy 2009 they had spent $32 million on medial studies and found that the storied benefits were true. Pomegranate juices had a particularly beneficial effect on prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease.

(adapted from Tell to Win, Peter Guber, 2011, Crown Publishing)

Pomegranate-the Super Antioxidant

Historically, the value of foods to fight illness has been known throughout the ages. This natural form of wellness became suppressed with the advent of modern pharmaceuticals. Pomegranates have been high on the healthy food list in Asia and the Middle East for Centuries. Americans have recently recognized the value of this antioxidant.

What exactly do antioxidants accomplish in the human body?

  • Help prevent heart disease
  • Help cancer cells from developing

By protecting the body from free radicals, antioxidants prevent interference with normal cell function. Free radicals are present in society in many forms.

  • Pollutants
  • Food additives
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Cigarette smoke

These are all things that are common in our everyday lives. By incorporating antioxidants such as pomegranate in our diet, we protect our body from the potential damage from free radicals. It wasn’t until 2000 that a team of Israeli scientists demonstrated just how powerful the effect of antioxidants such as pomegranate were on cholesterol oxidation in humans. It was shown that they protect against the stress in the industrialized world. They protect us from the pollutants such as viruses, bacteria and chemicals which lead to the development of heart disease. They have shown that pomegranate juice has the highest amount of antioxidants of all fruit juices.

  • For heart disease

The research group tested the juice on human and lab mice with predispositions to heart disease. The pomegranate juice reduced the “bad cholesterol” (LDL) and increased the good cholesterol (HDL) by 20%. This indicated that pomegranate juice was helpful in preventing atherosclerosis. It was also found that it reduced the plaque buildup on the arteries.

The three-year study showed that the juice also lowered systolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension.  Patients that already had hypertension showed a significant improvement in two weeks. The study indicated that pomegranate juice offered protection against heart disease due to its antioxidant properties.

  • For Cancer it has been shown to possibly be helpful in the prevention and treatment of cancers such as skin, breast, lung and prostate cancer. Research was conducted using mouse mammary organ culture and human breast cancer cells in vitro have proven the anticancer effects of extracts from pomegranate.

Pomegranates are the best source of ellagic acid. Ellagic acid “inhibits cancer formation and is believed to inhibit cancer mutation by latching on to DNA-masking sensitive sites on the gentetic material that might otherwise be occupied by harmful chemicals. Ellagic acid is particularly effective in the inhibition of lung cancer caused by tobacco.” This is according to Donald Yance in the book “Herbal Medicine, Healing & Cancer”.

Pomegranate also has been shown to contain proanthocyanidins (flavanoids), and anthocyanidins. These substances have been shown to reduce tumor angiogenisis.

Additional Benefits

  • Increased popularity for treatment of menopausal symptoms due to the increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer and some strokes from artificial hormone therapy have occurred. There are some herbs that contain hormone-like substances that do not have the side effects associated with artificial hormone therapy. In a study in mice, it was shown to improve depression and bone loss.
  • Pomegranate is also known for its anti-viral properties and anti-bacterial properties. The bark and root have also been used to eliminate tapeworms.

Addtional Information:

Prominence in Ayurvedic medicine

Pomegranate flower

In the Indian subcontinent’s ancient Ayurveda system of medicine, the pomegranate has extensively been used as a source of traditional remedies for thousands of years.[24]

The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree is used as a traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites.[24] The seeds and juice are considered a tonic for the heart and throat, and classified as a bitter-astringent (pitta or fire) component under the Ayurvedic system, and considered a healthful counterbalance to a diet high in sweet-fatty (kapha or earth) components.[25] The astringent qualities of the flower juice, rind and tree bark are considered valuable for a variety of purposes, such as stopping nose bleeds and gum bleeds, toning skin, (after blending with mustard oil) firming-up sagging breasts and treating hemorrhoids.[26] Pomegranate juice (of specific fruit strains) is also used as eyedrops as it is believed to slow the development of cataracts.[27]

Ayurveda differentiates between pomegranate varieties and employs them for different remedies.[28]

Nutrients and phytochemicals

Pomegranate sepals and drying stamens after fertilization and petal fall

Pomegranate aril juice provides about 16% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and polyphenols, such as tannins and flavonoids.[29][30]

Pomegranates are listed as high-fiber in some charts of nutritional value. That fiber, however, is entirely contained in the edible seeds which also supply unsaturated oils. People who choose to discard the seeds forfeit nutritional benefits conveyed by the seed fiber, oils and micronutrients.

The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate juice are the hydrolyzable tannins called ellagitannins formed when ellagic acid binds with a carbohydrate. Punicalagins are tannins with free-radical scavenging properties in laboratory experiments[31] and with potential human effects.[32] Punicalagins are absorbed into the human body and may have dietary value as antioxidants, but conclusive proof of efficacy in humans has not yet been shown.[33][34] During intestinal metabolism by bacteria, ellagitannins and punicalagins are converted to urolithins which have unknown biological activity in vivo.[35][36]

Other phytochemicals include polyphenolic catechins, gallocatechins, and anthocyanins, such as prodelphinidins, delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin.[37] The ORAC (antioxidant capacity) of pomegranate juice was measured at 2,860 units per 100 grams.[38]

Many food and dietary supplement makers use pomegranate phenolic extracts as ingredients in their products instead of the juice. One of these extracts is ellagic acid, which may become bioavailable only after parent molecule punicalagins are metabolized. However, ingested ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not accumulate in the blood in significant quantities and is rapidly excreted.[39] Accordingly, ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not appear to be biologically important in vivo.

Potential health benefits

In preliminary laboratory research and clinical trials, juice of the pomegranate may be effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation.[40][41][42] In an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, researchers detailed an experiment in which healthy adult men and unhealthy mice consumed pomegranate juice daily. After two weeks, the healthy men experienced increased antioxidant levels, which resulted in a ninety percent drop in LDL cholestoral oxidation. In the mice, “oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption…”.[43]

In a limited study of hypertensive patients, consumption of pomegranate juice for two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme.[44] Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections[45] while pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.[46]

Despite some positive research data, manufacturers and marketers of pomegranate juice have liberally used evolving research results for product promotion, especially for putative antioxidant health benefits. In February 2010, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to one such manufacturer, POM Wonderful, for using published literature to make illegal claims of unproven antioxidant and anti-disease benefits.[47][48][49]

Clinical trial rationale and activity

Metabolites of pomegranate juice ellagitannins localize specifically in the prostate gland, colon, and intestinal tissues of mice,[50] leading to clinical studies of pomegranate juice or fruit extracts for efficacy against several diseases.

In 2010, 23 clinical trials were registered with the National Institutes of Health to examine effects of pomegranate extracts or juice consumption on diseases shown below[51]

  • prostate cancer
  • prostatic hyperplasia
  • diabetes
  • lymphomarhinovirus infection (completed, July 2008)
  • common cold (completed, June, 2007)
  • oxidative stress in diabetic hemodialysis
  • atherosclerosis
  • coronary artery disease
  • infant brain injury
  • hemodialysis for kidney disease
 

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