Animal studies suggest that pomegranate extracts may have an important role in preventing diet-induced obesity. In a 2011study, "Pomegranate seed oil, a rich source of punicic acid, prevents diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice," published in the journal Food Chem Toxicol. 2011 Jun;49(6):1426-30. Epub 2011 Mar 31, the authors researched pomegranate seed oil, a rich source of punicic acid, to see how the oil helped to prevent diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance in mice.
Can the study's results be applied to humans? Most studies on pomegranate and health benefits have been done on rodents. In one study, researchers suppressed the appetite in animals fed a high-fat diet.
Studies show how full-spectrum pomegranate extract helps to reduce after-meal glucose (blood sugar) spikes, which are a known contributor to cardiovascular disease risk in both diabetic and non-diabetic people
You may want to check out the 2005 study, "Punica granatum flower extract, a potent alpha-glucosidase inhibitor improves postprandial hyperglycemia in Zucker diabetic fatty rats. The pomegranate flower extract has shown health benefits in this 2005 study. Check out the study's abstract or the study. It's published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology - Elsevier: 2005 Jun 3;99(2):239-44. Boosting your body's paraoxonase function and enhancing its HDL content with pomegranate extracts produces many important reductions in cardiovascular risks.
Another study researched consumption of pomegranate and black currant juices. See the 2012 study or its abstract, "Consumption of polyphenolic-rich beverages (mostly pomegranate and black currant juices by healthy subjects for a short term increased serum antioxidant status, and the serum's ability to attenuate macrophage cholesterol accumulation. That study is published in Food Funct. 2010 Oct;1(1):99-109. Epub 2010 Sep 15.
In that 2010 study, of 35 beverages researchers studied, both 100% Wonderful (pomegranate variety) pomegranate and 100% black currant juices were the most potent antioxidants in vitro, as they inhibited copper ion-induced LDL oxidation by up to 94% and AAPH-induced serum lipid peroxidation by up to 38%. F
The study also showed that the juices increased in vitro serum paraoxonase 1 (PON1) lactonase activity by up to 51%. Consumption of five selected polyphenol rich beverages by healthy subjects increased serum sulfhydryl group (SH) levels and serum PON1 activities after 2 h, and more so after 1 week of drinking these beverages. Note this study used healthy human subjects and not mice or other rodents.
These effects were most pronounced after the consumption of 100% Wonderful-variety pomegranate and 100% black currant juices. This study's conclusion noted that polyphenolic-rich juices with impressive in vitro antioxidant properties, also demonstrate antioxidant effects in vivo when analyzed for short term consumption. In this respect, 100% Wonderful-variety pomegranate and 100% black currant juices were most the potent.
The term "in vivo" means research done in the body of a living organism -- as opposed to the term "in vitro" which refers to any research done in a glass tube, vessel, or dish in a laboratory and not inside the body of any person, plant, or animal. Researchers look at the health benefits of full-spectrum pomegranate, not the juice but the extract of the seeds, flowers, stems, and pulp. If you're looking for US heart disease statistics, it's at the CDC's government website under CDC Heart Disease Facts, dated March 9, 2012.
How pomegranate can help is that scientists research the whole plant--seeds, leaves, flowers, and anything else in the pomegranate which is different than just juicing it or chewing the woody seeds. The enzyme being studied is found in all parts of the plant not only in the juice, which is sweet. Scientists study the seeds, flowers, and leaves, for example by extracting what's in the whole fruit not the watery juice.
Focus is now on the protective enzyme in research named PON1. For the latest news on pomegranate research and health benefits, check out the June 2012 issue of Life Extension Magazine article, "Fight Heart Disease by Activating a Protective Enzyme - Life Extension," by Seth Richards. That article contains resource material from 84 scientific and medical journals listed as a footnote, showing the various studies on health-related research of the effects of pomegranate on the body.
New protective enzyme being researched
The new protective enzyme in the latest research is called PON1. Latest research reveals how research has proven that the extract of the entire pomegranate plant--seeds, leaves, flowers, stem and pulp has helped to combat conditions that increase the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease, according to a 2009 study, Variation in paraoxonase-1 activity and atherosclerosis. The authors are: Soran H, Younis NN, Charlton-Menys V, Durrington P. Variation in paraoxonase-1 activity and atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Lipidol. 2009 Aug;20(4):265-74.
Conclusions from the study noted that the enzyme from pomegranates called, PON1 is a potentially antiatherogenic HDL-associated enzyme that protects LDL from oxidative modification. The term antiatherogenic means that the enzyme, PONI 1 from full-spectrum pomegranate parts, works to help prevent hardening of the arteries.
Enhancing PON1 activity could be an important target for future pharmacological agents aimed at decreasing cardiovascular risk. The enzyme PONI is also is known as Paraoxonase-1 (PON1)
It is an HDL(your good cholesterol)-associated protein of 354 amino acids with a molecular mass of 43 000 Da. PONI 1 is synthesized in the liver. And in your blood serum, it is almost exclusively associated with HDL. PON1 has been reported to be an important contributor to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of HDL.
PON1 impedes oxidative modification of LDL. PON1 serum activity is related to systemic lipid peroxidation stress and prospective cardiovascular risk. If you check out the article based on the study or the study's abstract, the review discusses the relationship between PON1 activity and atherosclerotic diseases as well as various factors modulating PON1 activity including genes, age, lifestyle factors and medical conditions.
The study also gives readers evidence that pharmacological agents may affect PON1 activity. As the whole pomegranate rather than only its juice is researched by scientists, the findings in the 2009 study showed that there is increasing evidence from both animal and human studies linking low PON1 activity to an increased likelihood of cardiovascular diseases.
Two prospective studies reported a significantly lower incidence of major cardiovascular events in participants with the highest systemic PON1 activity, compared with those with the lowest activity.
For the past 4 years, many new studies on pomegranate's health benefits have emerged
Every few months a new article on the health benefits of pomegranate appears in magazines such as Life Extension. Three years ago, the November 2009 issue of Life Extension magazine had a title appearing on its front cover, reporting: "Pomegranate Beneficially Alters Gene Expression." On page 44 of that issue, an article notes, "A Powerful Weapon Against Degenerative Disease." The article reports, "Researchers have unlocked another key to pomegranate's vast health benefits." Pomegranate juice concentrate is what is being studied in various new research.
Worried about gum disease or cavities? Besides the beneficial health effects on the arteries, an oral pomegranate gel has been found to be more effective at inhibiting plaque formation than the antimicrobial drug, miconazole and was effective at preventing growth of numerous types of oral bacteria. (See the study, Braz Dent J. 2006;17(3):223-7.)
The reference is listed on page 53 of the Life Extension article, "Pomegranate Favorably Modulates Gene Expression," November 2009. The question now is, is it the juice, the juice concentrate, or capsules made from the grounded seeds--that woody pulp and the juice together that has health benefits? Research studies focused on the juice concentrate.
Where can you get fruit juice concentrate without paying the high prices for an eight-ounce bottle usually available at most health food stores? You can check out the site of this excellent source, "Wonderful Pomegranate Juice Concentrate By FruitFast." Another resource would be to ask any of the universities studying pomegranate where they obtained their fruit juice or concentrate used in various studies on the health benefits of pomegranate juice. Do your homework. What the studies revealed emphasized the favorable alterations in gene expression. Just what were these alterations or modulations?
If you don't want the natural high sugar content of juice concentrates, you can find pomegranate extracts as supplements or eat the whole fresh fruit while it's in season this autumn
By inducing favorable alterations in gene expression, pomegranate protects against cancer, atherosclerosis, and the devastating effects of type II diabetes -- and helps defend against the debilitating aging process," according to the November 2009 Life Extension magazine article. When you turn to page 49, the title of the article actually reads, "Pomegranate Favorably Modulates Gene Expression."
The November 2009 Life Extension article reports on page 50 that "pomegranate exerts powerful control over atherosclerosis-related genes." The medical journal article and study related to the footnote on that statement it refers to is "Nitric Oxide," 2006 Nov;15(3):259-63.
For example, the article continues, "Pomegranate juice concentrate reduced activation of those dangerous genes in cultured human coronary artery cells exposed to shear stress and blocked progression of atherosclerosis in mice with elevated cholesterol."
That statement gave a reference as another study, noted as, "Proc National Academy of Sciences," USA, 2005 March 29;102(13):4896-901. The Life Extension article has a footnote of references listing 79 scientific journal articles based on studies from 2001 to the present of the health benefits of pomegranate on page 54 of the Life Extension article, "Pomegranate Favorably Modulates Gene Expression, November 2009 issue.
Do pomegranates have any anti-aging effects?
What are the non-drug approaches that reverse atherosclerosis caused by aging? According to medical journal articles touting studies showing the ability of consumed pomegranate juice and a natural superoxide dismutase (SOD) -enhancing agent called GliSODin® to reverse "carotoid artery ultrasound markers" of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) better than any prescribed commercial drug.
See Life Extension Magazine, July 2007, "Reversing Atherosclerosis Naturally," by Dale Kiefer. The article notes, "In the past seven years alone, the amount of published research on pomegranate has increased seven-fold over all preceding years in the medical and scientific literature."
The primary source for Life Extension Magazine's article's conclusion is the medical journal study by Lansky EP, Newman RA. Punica granatum (pomegranate) and its potential for prevention and treatment of inflammation and cancer. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2007 Jan 19;109(2):177-206.
Also see the article on SOD and oxidative stress titled, "Oxidative stress and antioxidants: how to assess a risk or a prevention?" Science is looking at fruit juices, nutrients, and even hormones that slow the progression of hardening of the arteries and inflammation of the arteries. But can fruit juice actually reverse existing artery calcification, possibly due to a high LDL level of calcium in the blood instead of the bones? Without drugs, can a whole food reverse atherosclerosis?
If atherosclerosis is caused by aging, it's not the years that cause it because there are older people who don't have either arteries hardened by calcium deposits or plaque made of fats. Hardening of the arties actually is caused by endothelial dysfunction.
And endothelial dysfunction could be slowed by certain natural forms of vitamins A, C, and E, provided the E vitamin contains all eight toctrienols, vitamin C is in its whole food state, and A is in a natural form of betacarotene obtained from natural foods with carotenoids
How does the reversing process work? To reverse hardening of the arteries you have to first halt the process and then reverse the calcium and other materials in the plaque that has narrowed arteries for decades. Let's say you have an ultrasound test of the carotid arteries in your neck. It gives you a reading of the blockage by measuring the thickness of the carotid artery walls.
You can ask for an IMT, also called an "intima-media thickness test." When your LDL cholesterol is high, it means calcium is flowing into your bloodstream to clog your arteries instead of being deposited in your bones. Your balance of multiple minerals going in your body isn't quite right.
Before you start planning the next step, first read the article from the Journal of Nutrition. 2001 Aug; 131(8):2082-9, 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."
Also see an article in the scientific journal titled, Clinical Nutrition. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33. In a controlled study involving people with severe carotid artery narrowing (stenosis), one group drank pomegranate juice with conventional drugs such as statins and high blood pressure medications.
In the study, the other group didn't consume any pomegranate but were on the same type and doses of drugs. The findings observed in the pomegranate group showed that the severe carotid artery narrowing had been reversed.
The study lasted three years, but what about people who don't want to take drugs and just drink the pomegranate juice? Will the juice reverse the calcium and fat deposits in their narrow carotid arteries without any drugs? It's difficult to get funding for people not taking drugs and just drinking pomegranate juice or taking some other nutrients with the pomegranate.
If you take away the drugs and give both groups just juice to drink and similar meals with the juice, will the arteries clean themselves? That's the question, since studies usually involve people on conventional drugs rather than on juicing diets.
How many studies look at patients that stepped away from conventional medicine and are willing to drink certain amounts of various juices to see what the pomegranate or other juices are doing to their arteries? And how does pomegranate work on people over age 65 with similar issues who are not on drugs?
Read for yourself a few of the numerous medical articles that have tested pomegranate for its ability to reverse hardening of the carotid arteries include the following studies. Also find out what studies are coming up in the near future. Here is a list of some of the studies that look place in the last decade.
Here are some studies with pomegranate and gliadin
See: Cloarec M, Caillard P, Provost JC, et al. "Glisodin, a Vegetal SOD with Gliadin, as Preventative Agent vs. atherosclerosis, as confirmed with carotid ultrasound-B imaging. European Annals of Allergy Clinical Immunology. 2007 Feb;39(2):45-50.
You also may want to check out the study by de NF, Williams-Ignarro S, Sica V, et al. "Effects of a pomegranate fruit extract rich in punicalagin on oxidation-sensitive genes and eNOS activity at sites of perturbed shear stress and atherogenesis." Cardiovascular Research. 2007 Jan 15;73(2):414-23.
There's another study by authors, Kaplan M, Hayek and T, Raz A, et al. "See the abstract of the study, "Pomegranate juice supplementation to atherosclerotic mice reduces macrophage lipid peroxidation, cellular cholesterol accumulation and development of atherosclerosis." Journal of Nutrition. 2001 Aug; 131(8):2082-9.
Or see the study by authors Aviram M, Rosenblat M, and 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." Clinical Nutrition. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33
Resources for Additional Scientific Articles on Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranate fruit juice for chemoprevention and chemotherapy of prostate cancer, - nih.gov, Beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on oxidation-sensitive genes and endothelial nitric- nih.gov, Resveratrol stimulates AMP kinase activity in neurons - nih.gov, Anti-oxidants from green tea and pomegranate for chemoprevention of prostate cancer, Chemical and antioxidant properties of pomegranate cultivars grown in the Mediterranean, Peel extracts of two Iranian cultivars of pomegranate (Punica granatum) have antioxidant, and Authentication of pomegranate juice concentrate using FTIR spectroscopy.