Did you know that the pomegranate tree is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean region? The actual fruit has a round shape with a hard red and yellow colored outer skin. The fleshy inside contains many small edible seeds that are surrounded by a semi-sweet pulp that can also be eaten. The seeds and the pulp are encased within a clear mostly flavorless membrane, because of this lack of flavor the membrane is usually not eaten.
From a general health point of view pomegranate juice contains 40% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C, and is a rich source of folic acid, vitamins A and E. For those wanting to lose some body fat it’s nice to know that pomegranate seed oil reduces the body’s ability to store fat according to studies at the University of Houston.
Another fringe benefit for those watching their weight is that because pomegranate juice is so sweet drinking it might help curb your cravings for unhealthy sugary foods.
More specifically there have been numerous studies done on the many and varied potential health benefits of pomegranate juice. Here are a few of the more well known ones:
• Very high levels of anti-oxidants
The juice contains polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins. In fact, the levels of anti-oxidants in pomegranate juice are 3 times higher than for green tea and red wine. These anti-oxidants are effective at combating free radicals that may be responsible for causing a number of physical afflictions.
• Artery Health
It has been shown that pomegranate juice helps protect the arteries and can improve blood flow to the heart by more than a third (American Journal of the College of Cardiology, Sept 2005). It also helps the prevention of plaque-forming oxidized LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in the arteries, thus helping to keep the arteries clear which reduces the chances of heart attacks and strokes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2000). Another one of the health benefits is that it also increases the heart-protective HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels.
• Prevention of Osteoarthritis
The juice inhibits the production of the enzyme within the human body that is responsible for damaging the cartilage as we age (Journal of Nutrition, Sept 2005).
• Fights Breast Cancer
Studies performed in Israel show that pomegranate juice destroys breast cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. It may also prevent breast cancer cells from forming.
• Slows Prostatic Cancer
Pomegranate juice has been shown by American scientists to slow the growth of prostate cancer in mice injected with the human form of the disease and improve their survival rate. A study was done of 50 men who were given 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day, these men had previously gone through the traditional medical treatments. It was found that their PSA levels remained stable, this is very promising as PSA is a biomarker for prostate cancer. Stable PSA levels may indicate that the cancer is not spreading as quickly (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sept 26, 2005).
• Lung Cancer Prevention
The juice may inhibit the development of lung cancer as shown by studies on mice.
• Skin Cancer
There may be an agent within the extract of the pomegranate fruit that possesses anti-skin-tumor-promoting effects according to studies done by Dr. Farrukh Afaq and his team at the University of Wisconsin.
• Alzheimer’s Disease
A study was carried out on mice that were bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the mice were given pomegranate juice and these were found to perform mental task better than the control group who were not given the juice. Also the group being given the juice accumulated significantly less amyloid plaque than the control group.
• Lowers Blood Pressure
One study showed another of the health benefits of pomegranate juice whereby systolic blood pressure was lowered from drinking 1.7 ounces of pomegranate juice per day, some people by as much as 5 percent. Also inhibits the activity of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).
• Dental Protection
Drinking pomegranate juice may even help prevent dental plaque building up on the teeth.
• Neonatal Benefits
The juice taken by the mother can help babies inside the womb resist brain injuries from low oxygen and reduced blood flow.
• Erectile Dysfunction
As drinking pomegranate juice improves the blood flow it can improve erections.
By Byron Stuart