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Dr. Joel Fuhrman: The Powerful Health Benefits of the Pomegranate
This article was contributed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman is a best-selling author, nutritional researcher and board certified family physician specializing in nutritional medicine. Learn more by visiting his website at DrFuhrman.com and his blog at Diseaseproof.com, and following Dr. Fuhrman on Facebook andTwitter.
One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of Persia. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life.
If you’re not familiar with the pomegranate, it is a red fruit with a tough outer layer; only the juice and the seeds inside are edible. Pomegranate juice is available year round, but you can purchase fresh pomegranates in most grocery stores from September through January. When refrigerated in a plastic bag, pomegranates keep for up to 2 months. Try tossing the seeds on a salad for a brilliantly colorful, crunchy, and nutritious addition.
Seeding a pomegranate may seem like a lot of work for just a piece of fruit but think again. Getting at those seeds may be well worth it. The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.
Amazing Clinical Results
This fantastic little fruit recently made its way back into the news after some spectacular clinical results. Here’s what you need to know:
Compounds found only in pomegranates called punicalagins are shown to benefit the heart and blood vessels. Punicalagins are the major component responsible for pomegranate’s antioxidant and health benefits. They not only lower cholesterol, but also lower blood pressure and increase the speed at which heart blockages (atherosclerosis) melt away.
Recent medical research studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages. They were given an ounce of pomegranate juice each day for a year. Not only did study participants’ blood pressure lower by over 20 percent, but there was a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque. Just as astounding, participants who did not take the pomegranate juice saw their atherosclerotic plaque increase by 9 percent.1
In other studies, potent antioxidant compounds found in pomegranates have shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.2
Not only are pomegranates good for your heart and blood vessels but they have been shown to inhibit breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia and to prevent vascular changes that promote tumor growth in lab animals.3 Several in vitro studies have shown this remarkable
anti-cancer effect. Additional studies and clinical trials currently taking place are hopeful to reveal this fascinating effect on humans.
Also of note, pomegranate juice contains phytochemical compounds that stimulate serotonin and estrogen receptors, improving symptoms of depression and increasing bone mass in lab animals.
Features of the Pomegranate
- Most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits
- Potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects
- Inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that could cause heart attacks, strokes and embolic disease
- Lowers cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors
- Lowers blood pressure
- Shown to promote reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in human studies
May have benefits to relieve or protect against depression and osteoporosis Many studies show that the pomegranate is one of the most powerful, nutrient dense foods for overall good health. These clinical findings clearly show a correlation between pomegranate compounds and their positive effect on both human and animal cardiovascular, nervous, and skeletal health. This is one fruit that you can’t afford to exclude from your diet!
You can read more about nutrition and other health topics at DrFuhrman.com!
1. Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr 2004;23(3):423-33.
2. Aviram M, Dornfeld L, Rosenblat M, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation:studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71(5):1062-76. Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomeganate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin coverting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis 2001;158(1):195-8.
3. Kim ND, Mehta R, Yu W, et al. Chemopreventive and adjuvant therapeutic potential of pomegranate (Punica granatum) for human breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2002;71(3):203-17. Kohno H, Suzuki R, Yasui Y, et al. Pomegranate seed oil rich in conjugated linolenic acid suppresses chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats.Cancer Sci 2004;95(6):481-6.
Toi M, Bando H, Ramachandran C, et al. Preliminary studies on the anti-angiogenic potential of pomegranate fractions in vitro and in vivo. Angiogenesis 2003;6(2):121-8.
Kawaii S, Lansky EP. Differentiation-promoting activity of pomegranate (Punica granatum) fruit extracts in HL-60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells. J Med Food 2004;7(1):13-8.