There are numerous health benefits of pomegranate. In this article we will examine the compounds contained in pomegranates that provide the benefits.
The pomegranate fruit is native to the Middle East and has been cultivated for thousands of years in Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Mediterranean regions. It is often made into juice, jam, jelly, molasses and even pomegranate wine and martini.
A substantial body of research shows that pomegranate has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This means that there are potentially a wide range of health benefits of pomegranate.
Pomegranate juice is very popular but one of the major drawbacks of any juice is the fact that it is a concentrated form of the liquid and therefore gives the user excess calories and fructose (fruit sugar). This of couse, may lead to rapid weight gain.
It provides a concentrated pomegranate extract in tablet form making it easy to obtain all the health benefits of pomegranate without the excess calories or sugar that may be contained in the juice.
The pomegranate contains many beneficial compounds including, ellagic acid, phytoestrogens and various types of polyphenols.
Here are some of the proven health benefits of pomegranate:
Pomegranate Health Benefits 1: Decreases your risk of prostate cancer
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that pomegranate extract may prevent cancer or at least, slow its growth. This is one of the pomegranate benefits that is thought to come from the polyphenols it contains. The levels of which are higher than those contained in red wine or green tea.
The researchers found that when they incubated prostate cancer cells, their growth was inhibited in a dose-dependent manner, i.e. More pomegranate extract, more inhibition of tumor growth.
It was also discovered that men with recurrent prostate cancer could extend the doubling time of prostate specific antigen (PSA) by almost 2 years! PSA is produced by the body in response to tumor growth. This means that as a tumor grows, more PSA is produced.
A reduction in PSA production means that tumor growth is slowed considerably.
Another study published in 2004 found that various forms of pomegranate including, cold-pressed oil, fermented juice polyphenols, and pericarp polyphenols all demonstrated antitumor activity against human prostate cancer.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 2: Protects nitric oxide
In 2006 researchers at UCLA found that pomegranate juice protected nitric oxide against destruction. This effects was thought to be due to its potent flavonoid antioxidants.
In this study it was also found that pomegranate juice was far more potent than other sources of antioxidants including, grape juice, blueberry juice, red wine, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and a vitamin E pre-cursor (dl-alpha-tocopherol).
By preserving nitric oxide, blood vessels can remain dilated for longer. This means that diseases that result from restricted blood vessels, i.e. heart disease and stroke, may be significantly reduced.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 3: Decreases osteoarthritis risk
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in September 2005 found that an extract of pomegranate was able to reduce a pro-inflammatory protein molecule (Interlukin-1b), which is known to the cause cartilage degradation of osteoarthritis.
This means that pomegranate can slow the deterioration of human cartilage. This is great news for sufferers of this debilitating condition!
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 4: Reduces risk of brain injuries in babies
It appears that women may benefit from consumption of pomegranate during pregnancy. There is a phenomenon called hypoxia ischemia, which is characterised by a severe lack of blood supply, and therefore oxygen, to the brain. This occurs during pregnancy in about 2 out of 1,000 full-term births, with a substantially higher percentage of babies born prematurely.
It results in brain injury and can lead to brain tissue loss, seizures and mobility impairments such as cerebral palsy.
Researchers at Washington University found that newborn mice whose mothers drank water mixed with pomegranate had a substantial reduction in brain tissue loss compared to those mothers who drank sugar water or other fluids.
It is believed that the high levels of polyphenols in pomegranates have this neuroprotective effect. Furthermore, since pomegranate has been shown to prolong the life of nitric oxide (a vasodilating compound) in the body, the blood vessels may remain wider for longer therefore reducing the risk of ischemia.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 5: Reduces cancer formation and growth
Researchers at the University of Illinois in Chicago have discovered that pomegranate extracts have anticancer effects on human breast cancer cells in vitro. They also found that fermented pomegranate juice polyphenols have a chemoprotective effect.
According to a report published in the International Journal of Cancer, pomegranate fruit extract can block skin tumor formation and skin swelling in mice when a cancer-causing agent is applied to the skin.
Further research needs to be done but pomegranate may prove to be a beneficial ingredient in future sunscreens!
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 6: Pomegranate has anti-viral properties
A study published in Infectious Diseases in 2004 found that pomegranate inhibits HIV-1 entry into the body by acting as a 'microbicide'. It is able to do this by blocking the virus binding to certain receptors.
Obviously further research is needed to verify this as well as what dosages have the best effect. Nevertheless, this is one of the most exciting pomegranate benefits nonetheless!
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 7: Pomegranate may improve blood lipid profiles in diabetics
In 2004 an Iranian study found that diabetic subjects consuming concentrated pomegranate juice were able to modify their heart disease risk factors by positively affecting blood lipids.
Significant reductions were seen in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, LDL / HDL ratio, and total cholesterol / HDL ratio.
These results suggest that pomegranate should be included in the diets of diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia (high blood lipids).
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 8: Pomegranate reduces build up of artery plaque and reduced blood pressure
In a study published in 2004 in the journal, Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that extended consumption of pomegranate (over 1 year) resulted in a reduction of intima-media thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery by up to 30%. The control group, on th eother hand, experienced a reduction of IMT of 9%.
Furthermore, it was found that blood pressure in the test group also reduced, primarily resulting from the reduction of IMT.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 9: Pomegranate promotes differentiation of cancer cells
Researchers in the Spring of 2004 found that pomegranate was able to promote differentiation of cancer cells. This means that it has the effect of forcing the cancer cells to revert to their normal counterparts.
This result represents an important noncytotoxic therapy for leukemia, breast, prostate, and other solid malignancies.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 10: Pomegranate shows promise in improving depression and bone mineral density in menopause
In a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2004, researchers found that pomegranate extract was able to shorten the immobility time in a forced swimming test (an index of depression) in a group of ovariectomised mice.
Also, the researchers found that bone mineral density and uterus weight were greater in the pomegranate-treated group compared to the control group.
It is believed that both of these effects result from the phytoestrogens contained in pomegranate.
These results certainly show promise for improving depression indicators and preventing bone loss in menopausal women.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate 11: Pomegranate resists the development of cancer blood vessels
In a study published in Angiogenesis in 2003, researchers found that pomegranate was able to significantly reduce the development of cancer blood vessels.
They examined several factors including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), interleukin-4 (IL-4) and migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and the results demonstrated pomegranate's powerful effects.
From this list of pomegranate benefits it should be clear that pomegranate should become a part of everyone's daily food intake.