The status of the pomegranate goes back 10,000 years, as far as the history of agriculture itself.
Allusions to the pomegranate are readily found in the oldest cultures of the Indus Valley, ancient China and classical Greece, as well as in the Old Testament. It has a long history of medicinal use.
The antioxidants present in the fruit repair damaged cells and by this action rejuvenate the bodies cell structure. Pomegranate health benefits also include slowing down the aging process, preventing cancers, and benefiting the heart, and many more.
Studies On Pomegranates
Diabetes--Pomegranate components appear to lower blood sugar levels immediately following a meal, according to research from Australia. Scientists there who studied obese rats with type II diabetes found that oral administration of pomegranate extract markedly lowered the animals’ blood sugar levels after a meal, while having minimal effect on the blood sugar levels of animals that had not eaten. This exciting finding suggests that pomegranate extracts block the breakdown of sucrose (table sugar) in the intestine by inhibiting alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down sugars. This action could help prevent sugars from being absorbed, thus lessening the abrupt after-meal spike in blood sugar that is so damaging to diabetics.
Antioxidant content--In January 2008, Navindra Seeram, Ph.D., reported on his study, which applied four tests of antioxidant potency of polyphenol-rich beverages available in the marketplace. Pomegranate juice had the greatest antioxidant potency composite index among the 12 beverages tested and was at least 20 percent greater than any of the other 11 beverages tested. In the comparative study, published in the Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, Seeram demonstrated the antioxidant potency and total polyphenol content were consistently greatest in pomegranate juice as compared to apple juice, acai juice, black cherry juice, red wine, blueberry juice, cranberry juice, Concord grape juice, orange juice, black tea, green tea and white tea. Although in vitro antioxidant potency does not prove in vivo biological activity, there is also consistent clinical evidence of antioxidant potency for the most potent beverages including pomegranate juice.
Skin benefits--In a study carried out at the University of Michigan Medical School, aqueous fractions prepared from pomegranate peel, fermented juice and lipophilic fractions of the pomegranate were examined for effects on human epidermal keratinocyte and dermal fibroblast function. Pomegranate seed oil, but not aqueous extracts of fermented juice, peel or seed cake, was shown to stimulate keratinocyte proliferation in a mono-layer culture. In parallel, a mild thickening of the epidermis was observed but without effect on fibroblast function. In contrast, pomegranate peel extract stimulated type I procollagen synthesis and inhibited matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs can break down skin proteins) production by dermal fibroblasts, but had no growth-supporting effect on keratinocytes. These results indicate the potential of pomegranate fractions in facilitating skin repair by promoting regeneration of the dermis and epidermis.
Aging--Three oral supplements containing a pomegranate mix have been documented in double blind clinical trials to effectively improve signs of extrinsic aging. Additionally, pomegranate demonstrated efficacy in improving signs of extrinsic skin aging in open label trials when topical and oral administration were combined.
Lung cancer--A recent study at the University of Wisconsin–Madison shows that consuming pomegranates could potentially help reduce the growth and spread of lung cancer cells or even prevent lung cancer from developing. "Pomegranate fruit continues to show great promise," says Mukhtar, professor of dermatology at the School of Medicine and Public Health and a member of the Carbone Cancer Center. "We have earlier shown that pomegranate fruit contains very powerful skin and prostate cancer-fighting agents. These recent findings expand the possible health benefits of the fruit to the leading cause of cancer death in the country and worldwide: lung cancer."
Coronary heart disease, body weight, blood pressure etc.--Researchers from the University of California's non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and California Pacific Medical Center claim theirs new study, published in the published in the September 16 issue of the Journal of Cardiology, is the first to assess its effect on patients with ischemic coronary heart disease (CHD). Their findings showed that blood flow to the heart improved by about 17 percent in the pomegranate group and declined by 18 percent in the placebo group. The researchers noted that this benefit was realized without and negative effects on lipids, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, body weight or blood pressure. "In conclusion, daily consumption of pomegranate juice may improve stress-induced myocardial ischemia in patients who have CHD," they wrote.
What's In A Pomegranate?
Anthocyanins account for the red-purple color of the pomegranate’s skin, flesh and seed. Pomegranate juice made from squeezing the whole fruit is a rich source of punicalagins and ellagitannins, a large polyphenol antioxidant. Pomegranate seeds are also a good source of punicic acid, similar to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Preliminary studies indicate that the juice may possess almost three times the total antioxidant ability of green tea or red wine.
In addition to being a high source of fiber, pomegranate is an excellent source of essential amino acids, vitamin A, C, E, B5, B3 or Niacin, Iron, folic acid and potassium.
The ellagic acid in pomegranate is a naturally occurring polyphenolic constituent. It has the ability to inhibit mutations within a cell's DNA. Furthermore, it is considered to be a cancer inhibitor which has the ability to cause apoptosis or normal cell death in cancer cells.
Health Benefits of Eating Pomegranates
Reverse aging. Pomegranates appear to play a positive role in the repair of skin damaged due to sun exposure and aging. Pomegranate has been known to reverse signs of aging. Extracts of pomegranate are thought to exert their positive effects on skin aging by extending the life of fibroblasts, the cells responsible for producing collagen and elastin. The antioxidant properties contribute to the regeneration of skin cells. Adding pomegranates to your daily diet can also give a rosy glow to the skin. Collagen and elastin are the components that give strength and support to the skin. When collagen and elastin fibers break down, the skin develops laxity, resulting in the appearance of wrinkles and jowls. Fortunately, pomegranate’s skin benefits may help to retard this process.
Lose weight. In recent years, pomegranate supplements have become a popular aid in weight loss. As well as gaining the benefits provided by pomegranate fruit, you can lose weight and get a flatter stomach.
Wound healing. Several recent studies have shown pomegranate’s ability to improve wound healing, resulting in faster repair of skin cuts and scrapes.
Prevent heart disease. Risk of heart disease and heart attacks is decreased by eating pomegranates. There is solid evidence of the pomegranate’s impact on heart disease, including its ability to enhance nitric oxide production in endothelial cells. In both laboratory and clinical studies, pomegranate shows great promise in averting the numerous pathological changes associated with cardiovascular disease.
Cancer. There are significant antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects attributed to the pomegranate in battling breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer and prostate cancer and it has been shown to retard tumor growth in animals.
Diabetes. pomegranate may have profound benefit for people with diabetes and the pre-diabetic condition known as metabolic syndrome. Pomegranate components appear to lower blood sugar levels immediately following a meal, according to research from Australia.
Alzheimer's disease . Elderly people could benefit from this fruit in reducing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. A new animal study published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease has found that dietary intake of antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice may reduce the buildup of harmful proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease by half.
Menopause & PMS. There has been a constant stream of claims from women, which report that pomegranate extracts help the prevalent health disquiet during menopause. Being rich in iron contents, pomegranate enriches the blood with hemoglobin and prevents anemic conditions such as body weakness & fatigue. Also high in estrogen. Pomegranate is believed to help balance the estrogen level in women.
Erectile Dysfunction. research also shows that pomegranates improved erections in 47% of the participants in a small study of men who suffer from mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Pomegranate may help with erectile dysfunction by increasing and balancing the blood flow to the heart and subsequently to the rest of the body.
Increases sex drive. Researchers at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex recently uncovered an unexpected health benefit during a study – pomegranate juice also helps increase sex drive in men and women. A number of couples were given pomegranate juice to drink then asked to perform some erotic activities and couples who drank the pomegranate juice showed elevated levels of sexual interest.
Teeth. Consuming pomegranates or pomegranate products also reduces dental plaque build-up, which helps decrease the chance of bad breath and gum disease.
Natural sunscreen. Pomegranate extract can increase the SPF of topical sunscreens by 25 percent. It works as a natural sunscreen, blocking UV rays.
Osteoarthritis. In addition to antioxidants, pomegranates contain an element that combats the enzyme that eats away at cartilage. This delays the onset of osteoarthritis. The fruit also contains anti-inflammatory qualities which would treat the disease after onset.
Skin Whitening. Studies have shown that ellagic acid found in pomegranates can suppress UV-induced skin pigmentation when applied topically or when administered orally. Mineka Yoshimura and colleagues have shown in their study "Inhibitory Effect of an Ellagic Acid-Rich Pomegranate Extract on Tyrosinase Activity and UV-induced Pigmentation" (Bioscience, Biotechnology, Biochemistry, 2005) that pomegranate extract has skin-whitening property. This effect was probably caused by the inhibition of proliferation of melanocytes and melanin synthesis.
How Do You Eat A Pomegranate?
Pomegranates are a delicious but extremely frustrating fruit to eat. Using the technique outlined here you'll put more pomegranate in your mouth and less all over the kitchen.
For those of you who have never eaten a pomegranate, the frustration comes from the structure of the fruit and what a pain it is to get to the good stuff. An orange, for example, is easily peeled and the delicious part is right at hand. A pomegranate fruit has several internal chambers filled with seeds that are stuck to a membrane and each other. The seeds are what you want to eat but it's a huge pain to get them out without crushing them, making a mess, and getting the pile of seeds you've scooped out completely covered in white flakes from the membrane.
The secret? Quarter the pomegranate and then place it into a large bowl of water. Pomegranate seeds sink and everything else—skin, membranes, etc.—float. Brush the seeds free from the skin and membrane and they'll sink right to the bottom.
What do you think about this miraculous fruit?