Super Food: How and Why to Consume Pomegranate
Pomegranates have quickly gained a reputation as a “super food” with lots of potential health benefits. The juice is loaded with antioxidants. In fact, pomegranate juice has three times the amount of antioxidants found in green tea and red wine. It’s also a great source of vitamin C, and it’s been found to have the capabilities to fight viruses and cancerous tumor activity. Research supports theories about specific benefits of drinking pomegranate juice and from eating the fruit.
The juice from the pomegranate is loaded with healthy antioxidants that provide a wide range of benefits. One is that they can prevent the damage to arteries caused by LDL cholesterol. In addition, the juice functions as a natural anticoagulant, inhibiting blood platelets from sticking together to form clots. Also, pomegranate helps the heart get more oxygen, and this is backed up by research. According to the September, 2005 issue of American Journal of the College of Cardiology, subjects with heart disease who consumed 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for three months had a significant improvement in the amount of oxygen reaching the heart muscle.
Pomegranate has also been linked to the the ability to raise healthy HDL cholesterol while lowering detrimental LDL cholesterol. Drinking just two ounces of pomegranate juice a day can also lower systolic blood pressure by as much as five percent.
Pomegranate might even be beneficial to people who suffer arthritis pain and joint damage. A study reported in the September 2005 issue of Journal of Nutrition showed that pomegranate juice could help decrease the inflammation associated with arthritis. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University discovered that cartilage cells in tissue samples responded favorable when treated with extract make from the juice. Pomegranate seemed to inhibit the actions of enzymes that caused the cartilage to deteriorate.
Pomegranate juice and extract has been studied in relation to lung cancer. Not only did the pomegranate slow the growth of malignant tumors in the lungs, it also seemed to protect the lungs from ever forming tumorous cells in the first place. The findings of these studies were reported in the January 2007 issue of Carcinogenesis.
Some of the latest studies concerning pomegranate were done with the influenza virus, and the results are promising. The July 2009 issue of Phytomedicine reports the findings of research conducted at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Scientists discovered that pomegranate is rich in punicalagin, a beneficial polyphenol that can actually inhibit the reproduction and growth of the virus responsible for flu.
Consuming pomegranate may be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of prostate cancer. In a report to the Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA), long-term clinical studies revealed that men who drank eight ounces of pomegranate juice a day following prostate surgery or radiation therapy were able to stabilize their PSA levels.
According to Dr. Christopher Amling, a spokesman for the AUA, “This study suggests that pomegranate juice may effectively slow the progression of prostate cancer after unsuccessful treatment. This finding and other ongoing research might one day reveal that pomegranate juice is an effective prostate cancer preventative agent, as well.”
Studies in Israel suggest that pomegranate seed oil might be beneficial in the fight against breast cancer. Research conducted at Technion –Israel Institute of Technology found that the oil caused breast cancer cells – especially cells that were estrogen dependent - to self destruct without damaging normal cells. When normal and cancerous cells were treated with pomegranate oil and extract, more than 75% of the estrogen-dependent cancer cells and 50% of the non-estrogen dependent cancer cells were destroyed. Normal, healthy cells were almost completely unaffected.
The International Journal of Cancer reported a study conducted by Dr. Hasan Mukhtar at the University of Wisconsin that involved mice. The mice were coated with pomegranate extract prior to exposure to cancer-causing substances. The mice treated with the pomegranate experienced less swelling, less irritation, and fewer skin tumors than did the mice that didn’t receive the topical application of pomegranate.
Doctors aren’t completely sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease. Many believe it could be caused by cellular damage done by free radicals. Research suggests that the powerful antioxidants found in pomegranate is effective in inhibiting the detrimental actions of these free radicals and thereby reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and slowing its progression in patients who already suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Diabetes and weight loss
In mice studies conducted at the University of Houston, pomegranate seed oil was found to reduce body weight, inhibit weight gain, and improve insulin sensitivity. Scientists believe it’s the high concentration of linoleic acid in the oil that’s responsible for the benefits. This could be exciting news for those with type II diabetes. Future studies are expected.
How to eat a fresh pomegranate
Pomegranates are delicious! To prepare one for eating, slice off the top half inch and cut the fruit into wedges. Hold the pom over a bowl of water, and remove the seeds. The inedible white membrane will float to the top while the edible seeds will sink to the bottom.
The juice from the fruit can stain your fingers, so wash your hands after handling the juice and the pulp.
Where to get pomegranate juice and extract
If you prefer taking the extract in supplement form, visit your local health food store. From my experience, however, you can find the best deals online. The ready-to-drink juice is available in grocery stores and online. One of the most popular is POM Wonderful.
Check out the great pomegranate procucts below:
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