The pomegranate is an incredibly nutritious fruit. The sweet, edible seeds called arils are rich in fiber, vitamins C and K, folate and potassium. They also contain a healthy fat called punicic acid and powerful antioxidants called punicalagins. Tests have shown that pomegranate juice has three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea. Here are ten ways that pomegranate could enhance your health and well-being.
1. Pomegranate could lower cholesterol
The punicic acid in pomegranate could help to lower cholesterol and protect against heart disease. In a study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 22 patients with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol consumed 40 grams of concentrated pomegranate juice daily. Their diets were monitored to ensure there were no other changes. After eight weeks, blood tests revealed that their total cholesterol and LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol were both significantly reduced.
2. Pomegranate can lower blood pressure
Pomegranate juice could lower high blood pressure in just two weeks. In a study published in Phytotherapy Research 21 patients with high blood pressure were randomly assigned to receive either 150 ml of pomegranate juice or the same amount of water once a day between meals. Blood pressure was measured at the start of the trial and again after 14 days. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly reduced in the pomegranate juice group. The juice drinkers also showed improvement in markers of blood vessel function.
3. Pomegranate can reduce inflammation
Pomegranate has anti-inflammatory properties that could help treat or prevent diseases associated with chronic inflammation. In a clinical trial published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 44 patients with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to two groups. One drank 250 ml of pomegranate juice a day for 12 weeks. The other drank a placebo beverage. Blood tests showed that two markers of inflammation were reduced by 30% the pomegranate group.
4. Pomegranate could improve your memory
The polyphenols in pomegranate seem to have memory-enhancing effects. Researchers at the University of California recruited older volunteers with self-reported age-related memory complaints. They were randomly assigned to drink a daily eight ounce glass of pomegranate juice or a similar tasting placebo drink. After four weeks, the pomegranate juice group significantly improved on a test of verbal memory. Their brain scans also showed increased activity during verbal and visual memory tasks.
5. Pomegranate can help treat thrush
Tannins in pomegranate inhibit the Candida albicans yeast which causes oral and vaginal infections. In a study published in the journal Mycoses, 60 patients with denture stomatitis (oral thrush) were randomly divided into two groups. One group was treated with the pharmaceutical antifungal gel miconazole. The other group was treated with a gel made from pomegranate extract. After 15 days both treatments showed similar results. Candida tests were negative for 25 patients in the miconazole group and 23 patients in the pomegranate group.
6. Pomegranate could help treat or prevent arthritis
Studies have shown that pomegranate extract could be beneficial for people with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It reduces swelling, helps to prevent bone loss and blocks enzymes that damage joints. Researchers from Case Western Reserve University gave mice either water or pomegranate extract before injecting them with collagen to induce arthritis. Consumption of pomegranate juice delayed arthritis onset and reduced the incidence and severity. The pomegranate-fed mice also showed less inflammation and less damage to bone and cartilage.
7. Pomegranate could help treat breast cancer
Laboratory studies have shown that pomegranate extract inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells and stimulates death by apoptosis in some cell lines. Interestingly, the anti-cancer effects of pomegranate aren’t entirely due to its high level of antioxidants. In a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food scientists performed a DNA analysis and found that pomegranate extract affected breast cancer cells at the genetic level. It upregulated genes involved in cancer cell inhibition and death and downregulated genes involved in cancer cell proliferation.
8. Pomegranate could help treat prostate cancer
Pomegranate can slow the progression of prostate cancer. Researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine conducted a phase II clinical trial with prostate cancer patients. Over the course of the study, patients were treated with a daily eight-ounce glass of pomegranate juice and their blood was tested for markers of cancer. Prostate specific antigen doubling time significantly lengthened, cancer cell proliferation decreased by 12% and cancer cell death by apoptosis increased by 17%.
9. Pomegranate could enhance athletic performance
Pomegranate is rich in dietary nitrates, which improve circulation and enhance exercise efficiency. Researchers from the University of North Carolina tested the effects of pomegranate on running performance. Young men and women were randomly assigned to receive pomegranate extract or a placebo 30 minutes before performing treadmill tests for runs to exhaustion at peak velocity. Pomegranate juice enhanced blood vessel diameter and blood flow and significantly delayed fatigue during exercise.
10. Pomegranate could help treat Alzheimer’s disease
Polyphenols in pomegranate could help protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease. In a study published in Neurobiology of Disease, scientists tested the effects of pomegranate on mice that had been genetically modified to act as a model for Alzheimer’s. For six months half the mice received pomegranate juice and the other half received sugar water. The pomegranate group learned water maze tasks more quickly. Examination of their brains showed a 50% lower accumulation of amyloid plaques than mice in the control group.
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