The pomegranate (Punica granatum L) is an exotic fruit native to Iran. It provides a rich source of nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin K and the polyphenols punicalagin, ellagitannin, and ellagic acid. Several studies have focused on the health benefits of pomegranate, some examples are listed below.
Pomegranate juice has been found to inhibit macrophage foam cell formation by preventing free radical attacks on LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is involved in the development of atherosclerotic lesions3.
Another study found that polyphenols protect against arterial plaque (atherosclerosis) by acting as antioxidants and inhibiting the oxidation of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, thereby preventing an inflammatory response1,2.
Cancer protective properties
Pomegranate fruit extract may have the potential to be used in cancer treatment. Preliminary studies show that it can inhibit the growth and progression of primary lung tumours in mice4 and also suppress inflammatory cell signalling in colon cancer cells5.
Â Pomegranate juice may also aid in the treatment of prostate cancer, since it was shown to improve prostate cancer parameters in one clinical study. Following surgery or radiation treatment for prostate cancer, each patient consumed 227ml of pomegranate juice daily. Pomegranate juice consumption resulted in PSA (prostate specific antigen) levels taking significantly longer to double from the mean baseline level at 15 months until 54 months post-treatment6.
A recent study has shown that polyphenols in pomegranate fruit extract can inhibit inflammation mechanisms involved in osteoarthritis. It directly inhibited the production of cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes, the key mediators of inflammation in osteoarthritis and muscle and ligament injury. This study shows that pomegranate may provide a potential new treatment for osteoarthritis7.
1. Aviram M, Dornfeld L, Kaplan M, et al (2002) Pomegranate juice flavonoids inhibit low-density lipoprotein oxidation and cardiovascular diseases: studies in atherosclerotic mice and in humans. Drugs Exp. Clin. Res.; 28(2-3): 49-62.
2. Aviram M, Dornfeld L, Rosenblat M, et al (2000) 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.; 71(5): 1062-1076.
3. Fuhrman B, Volkova N, Aviram M (2005) Pomegranate juice inhibits oxidized LDL uptake and cholesterol biosynthesis in macrophages. J. Nutr. Sci.; 16(9): 570-576.
4. Khan N, Afaq F, Kweon M, et al (2007) Oral consumption of pomegranate fruit extract inhibits growth and progression of primary lung tumors in mice. Cancer Res.; 67(7): 3475-3482.
5. Adams L, Seeram N, Aggarwal B, et al (2006) Pomegranate juice, total pomegranate ellagitannins, and punicalagin suppress inflammatory cell signalling in colon cancer cells. J. Agric. Food Chem.; 54(3): 980-985.
6. Pantuck A, Leppert J, Zomorodian N, et al (2006) Phase II Study of Pomegranate Juice for Men with Rising Prostate-Specific Antigen following Surgery or Radiation for Prostate Cancer. Clin. Cancer Res.; 12: 4018-4026.
7. Shukla M, Gupta K, Rasheed Z, et al (2008) Bioavailable constituents/metabolites of pomegranate (Punica granatum L) preferentially inhibit COX2 activity ex vivo and IL-1beta-induced PGE2 production in human chondrocytes in vitro. J. Inflamm.; 5:9.