Pomegranate – Learn How It Can Help You

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What Is It?

pomegranatePomegranate is one of many ingredients in the Tikva product. It is used in folk medicine (to treat Inflammation, sore throats, and rheumatism) for centuries in the Middle East, and India, the pomegranate is about the size of an orange or an apple. It has a tough, dark red or brownish rind. The seeds and the juicy translucent scarlet red pulp surrounding the seeds of the pomegranate are the edible parts of the fruit, although only the pulp has any flavor. Encased within a bitter-tasting, white, spongy, inedible membrane, the seeds can be gently pried out with your hands. Perhaps one of the reasons the pomegranate isn’t as popular as it deserves is that it takes time and care to get to the seeds. The flavor of these juicy seeds is delicate, sweet, and tangy.

The pomegranate, affectionately known as the “jewel of winter,” has been increasingly acclaimed for its health benefits, in particular, for its disease-fighting antioxidant potential. Preliminary studies suggest that pomegranate juice may contain almost three times the total antioxidant ability compared with the same quantity of green tea or red wine. It also provides a substantial amount of potassium, is high in fiber, and contains Vitamin C and niacin.

WholeHealthMD.com

Pomegranate Health Benefits

Pomegranate Juice and Cardiovascular Health

Five studies demonstrating a beneficial effect of pomegranate juice on cardiovascular health have recently been published in a number of scientific journals. These studies concluded that pomegranate juice:

significantly increased levels of nitric oxide (which widens the arteries);

reduced arterial plaque by 30 percent;

inhibited ACE by 36 percent and reduced systolic blood pressure.

NewsWise ( American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Pomegranate Enhances Nitric Oxide, Improves Endothelial Function

pomegranate nitric oxidePomegranate protects cardiovascular health by augmenting nitric oxide, which supports the functioning of endothelial cells that line the arterial walls. Nitric oxide signals vascular smooth muscle to relax, thereby increasing blood flow through arteries and veins. Nitric oxide reduces injury to the vessel walls, which also helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis.

Scientists have known for some time that oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) can reduce the expression of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that produces nitric oxide. Recently, they discovered that pomegranate juice enhances the bioactivity of nitric oxide synthase in endothelial cells. Furthermore, pomegranate’s antioxidant properties protect nitric oxide from oxidative destruction, thus augmenting its biological actions.

An Italian study examined the role of pomegranate juice in nitric oxide synthase activity in artery sections that had already developed atherosclerosis. In these segments, blood forcing its way around atherosclerotic plaque buildup exerts significant stress on arterial walls. This stress reduces nitric oxide synthase expression and sets the stage for the formation of yet more plaque.

The researchers selected mice with a genetic predisposition to developing atherosclerosis. They put the mice on a high-fat diet, let arterial disease develop for six months, and then added pomegranate juice to the experimental group’s drinking water for 24 weeks. The placebo group was given plain drinking water.

Pomegranate juice not only increased the expression of nitric oxide synthase in both healthy and atherosclerotic blood vessels, but increased it the most in blood vessels with the most plaque buildup, as shown below.

Increase in Nitric Oxide Synthase Expression by Pomegranate

Low-prone atherosclerotic areas +26.1%

High-prone atherosclerotic areas +46.7%

Healthy blood vessel areas +3.3%

Pomegranate’s ability to increase nitric oxide synthase resulted in a significant reduction in atherosclerotic lesions:

Reduction in Atherosclerotic Lesions by Pomegranate

Low-prone atherosclerotic areas -20.2%

High-prone atherosclerotic areas -19.3%

Healthy blood vessel areas -25.6%

In other words, in healthy parts of the blood vessels, pomegranate juice reduced lesion volume by nearly 26%, while in areas with much more plaque, pomegranate reduced the volume of lesions by approximately 20%. Pomegranate’s ability to enhance nitric oxide synthase and protect nitric oxide from destruction may facilitate longer-lasting concentrations of nitric oxide in endothelial cells, thus enhancing endothelial function and conferring profound cardiovascular protection.

Life Extension

Atherosclerosis

pomegranate atherosclerosisA preliminary new study shows that people with diabetes who drank pomegranate juice for three months had a lower risk of atherosclerosis — or hardening of the arteries. In addition, the pomegranate juice appeared to slow the absorption of unhealthy LDL cholesterol LDL cholesterol by immune cells.

People with diabetes have increased risk for atherosclerosis, which contributes to coronary heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and other circulation problems.

These results suggest that the antioxidants found in pomegranate juice may be especially beneficial in reducing these heart-related risks associated with diabetes.

WebMD.com

Tests showed that pomegranate juice reduced the effects of stress on human blood vessel cells by stimulating the production of nitric oxide. This chemical is thought to help keep arteries open and keep blood flowing.

Researchers say the beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on hardening of the arteries are likely largely due to its high antioxidant content. The study showed that the antioxidant level in pomegranate juice was higher than that found in other fruit juices, including blueberry, cranberry, orange, and even red wine.

Previous studies on red wine, black tea, and purple grape juice have already indicated these antioxidant-rich beverages can protect arteries from damage by improving blood flow.

WebMD.com

Reversing Plaque Buildup and Lowering Heart Disease Risk

For years, scientists have believed that while antioxidants and other nutrients can slow additional atherosclerotic plaque buildup, they do little to reverse the process once plaque has already formed on the arterial walls. Now, a remarkable study from Israel indicates that pomegranate can actually reduce existing plaque formations in the arteries.

pomegranate plaqueNineteen patients from the Vascular Surgery Clinic in Haifa, Israel, were selected to participate in this three-year trial. All were non-smokers between the ages of 65 and 75, with asymptomatic severe carotid artery narrowing (stenosis) ranging from 70% to 90%. In other words, their arteries were so occluded by plaque buildup that only 10-30% of the original artery volume was available to permit blood flow. Ten of the 19 patients consumed 50 mL (1.7 ounces) of pomegranate juice daily, while the other nine received a placebo beverage. Both groups had similar blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels at baseline, and continued their ongoing drug regimens. Dietary and lifestyle practices were kept constant during the study.

Despite the patients’ advanced atherosclerosis, ingesting pomegranate juice produced statistically significant reductions in the thickness of their carotid artery walls, which is correlated with decreased risk for heart attack and stroke. After only three months, the average thickness declined by 13%, and after 12 months, the thickness dropped 35% compared to baseline. During this same 12-month period, the average carotid artery thickness of the placebo group increased by 9%.

Life Extension

Prevent Blood Clots and Bad LDL Cholesterol

oxidationResearchers report that they are rich in antioxidants that can keep bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2000). This degradation of LDL seems to be an initial step in the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, pomegranate juice, like aspirin, can help keep blood platelets from clumping together to form unwanted clots.

Does this make any difference clinically? More recent research has found that eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months improved the amount of oxygen getting to the heart muscle of patients with coronary heart disease (American Journal of the College of Cardiology, Sept. 2005).

Health Central

One year of pomegranate use more than doubled the time it took for the initiation of LDL oxidation, from 30 minutes to 65 minutes. Since LDL must be oxidized before it can adhere to the arterial wall, delays in oxidation and increasing levels of antioxidants in the blood keep new plaque from building up, while paraoxonase-1 may help break up existing plaque, leading to overall reductions in plaque formation over time.

Life Extension

Pomegranate Juice and Ischemic Heart Disease

A study published in the September 2005 edition of the American Journal of the College of Cardiologists, examined the effect of pomegranate juice on patients with ischemic heart disease. Forty-five patients drank eight ounces of pomegranate juice or placebo for three months; blood flow to the heart before and after exercise was measured using thallium scans at zero and three months. Researchers found that in patients drinking pomegranate juice, oxygen deficiency to the heart during exercise was significantly reduced compared to placebo, suggesting increased blood flow to the heart.

NewsWise ( American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Pomegranate Juice’s Potential Benefits For Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

A study published in the July 2005 edition of the Journal of Urology, entitled “Oxidative Stress in Arteriogenic Erectile Dysfunction: Prophylactic Role of Antioxidants,” examined the effects of long term intake of pomegranate juice on erectile dysfunction (ED) in an animal model. The results suggest for the first time that free radicals (oxidative stress) are a contributing factor in erectile dysfunction. As a result, pomegranate juice may be of benefit through an antioxidant mechanism.

NewsWise ( American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Preventing Osteoarthritis

osteoarthritisInflammation destroys joint-cushioning cartilage, inflicting tremendous pain and disability on the estimated 21 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis. By severely curtaining physical activity, osteoarthritis can initiate a vicious cycle in which its sufferers become ever more sedentary (and often overweight), triggering additional health problems.

Pomegranate’s ability to break the cycle of inflammation and tissue damage spurred scientists at Case Western University to explore whether it could protect joint cartilage from inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis. In an in-vitro experiment, they first treated cartilage from osteoarthritis patients with pomegranate fruit extract, and then stimulated the tissue with interleukin-1 beta, a potent inflammatory mediator. The scientists then measured the extent of cartilage destruction and production of inflammatory molecules in the tissue samples.

Pretreatment with pomegranate fruit extract inhibited enzymes that break down cartilage, and sharply reduced the volume of inflammatory products released from the tissue. The researchers concluded that pomegranate fruit extract “may inhibit cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis and may also be a useful nutritive supplement for maintaining joint integrity and function.”

-Life Extension

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