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Pomegranate health benefits and truth in labeling news

When the Coca Cola company put out a juice labeled as Pomegranate Juice, its price sold much cheaper than pure pomegranate juice with no other juices added. You may wish to check out the April 21, 2014 news article by Michael Doyle, "Supreme Court weighs truth in labeling in fruit juice case." In September 2007, Coca-Cola introduced its “Pomegranate Blueberry” product. It contains about 99.4 percent apple and grape juices, tinted with 0.3 percent pomegranate juice, 0.2 percent blueberry juice and 0.1 percent raspberry juice. It's not pure pomegranate juice...not even pomegranate juice from concentrate.

Pomegranate health benefits and truth in labeling news.
Anne Hart, photography. Pomegranate from the backyard tree.

If you really want apple juice, just core an apple and puree it with liquid in a blender. And if you want pomegranate juice, buy a bunch of pomegranates when they're in season, and juice them in your juicer.

Or to make it easy, just buy pomegranate juice concentrate that only has pomegranates in it. Or buy pure pomegranate juice in a bottle that's not mixed with another type juice. There are numerous brands of pure pomegranate juice in most supermarkets, usually in the natural food aisles.

As far as the law suit, Pom Wonderful sued. A lower appellate court rejected the suit, concluding that the federal Food and Drug Administration had effectively pre-empted labeling oversight.

The latest news is that dual marketing disputes have ripened for the California-based makers of Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, with Supreme Court justices sounding sympathetic Monday to some company claims, says the article, "Supreme Court weighs truth in labeling in fruit juice case." The news is abundant today with articles such as the April 22, 2014 Forbes magazine article by Michael Bobelian, "In POM v. Coca-Cola, Supreme Court Could Shake Up Food Labeling."

The Forbes article by explains, that in oral arguments yesterday, the Supreme Court tackled many of these issues in a dispute between POM Wonderful and Coca-Cola KO -0.1%. The Court’s ruling may touch upon much more than the legal issues involved in the case, which largely concern statutory interpretation.

The Court has the potential to redefine how businesses label a wide variety of products

Most people are buying apple, cranberry, and orange juices. The folks drinking the pomegranate juice several years ago were those trying to unclog the soft plaque in their arteries by drinking pomegranate juice, or better yet, taking extracts of the entire pomegranate, including the seeds, stem, and leaves as well as the pomegranate, sometimes based on studies claiming health benefits of pomegranate extracts. See, articles such as "Powerful Health Benefits of the Pomegranate - Dr. Fuhrman," and "Pomegranate Health Benefits - Citrus - UF/IFAS Extension." Or check out the article, "Leo Galland, M.D.: Big Benefits Of Pomegranate Juice" and "Pom Reading: Myths & Facts About Pomegranate Juice."

If you take a look at the POM brand of beverages, you can see how over the last few years other companies also came out with beverages that contained the word 'pomegranate' on the label. These titan companies such as Ocean Spray and Coca-Cola are offering a drink that contains a small amount of pomegranate juice, not a bottle of juice that's entirely pomegranate. But the company POM can sue Coca-Cola under the federal Lanham Act, which permits civil action against anyone who “misrepresents the nature, characteristics or qualities” of goods being sold. So if you're an average food market customer and you grab a bottle or other container of what's labeled as pomegranate, what you may not read is the ingredients label to find out what percentage of your beverage really is pomegranate juice.

How much pomegranate juice do you get in any given bottle of juice labeled as pomegranate?

You have a whole shelf of juices in many supermarkets marked pomegranate-blueberry or any variety of fruit mixed with pomegranate on some types of juices. The labeling could be in a way similar to a package of onion rings you buy thinking what you bought was onions with a breading or other coating, but all you got was the onion flavor in the rings or crisps, not a slice of real onion fried after being dipped in a batter. It's a similar comparison to what any given juice is labeled when it only might contain a tiny bit of juice of any particular fruit and the rest something else or other juices.

The customer thinks he or she's getting 100 percent pomegranate juice, not realizing the cost of a bottle of juice that's all pomegranate juice probably is going to cost more than a bottle of a cheaper juice such as white grape or apple juice mixed in with a itsy bitsy dollup of pomegranate juice. That's the issue, whether the customer is or is not being confused. Whatever juice you buy, the titan company's juice usually will cost less because cheaper juices or liquids go into the bottle. You get what you pay for.

The solution? Juice your own pomegranates

Buy them in season during the fall and freeze the pulp and seeds. Then thaw and juice them all year, or simply choose pomegranate concentrate or juice that's 100 percent pomegranate and not diluted with cheaper apple or white grape juice. If you want to mix pomegranate juice with apples and grapes, puree apples and grapes, the whole fruit with the fiber then juice your pomegranates, removing the bitter seeds, if desired, before adding any juice to your whole pureed fruits. Then drink the fruit as it came from nature.

If you take the side of Coca cola, the label by law isn't misleading. But what you're getting wouldn't be pure pomegranate juice unmixed with other juices. What you want is pure pomegranate juice. But if you're looking for health benefits, instead of looking at what any brand of juice claims, instead look at the studies.

There are scientific studies on the health effects of pomegranate extracts

Check out articles mentioning studies such as "Pomegranate Reverses Atherosclerosis and Slows the Progression of Prostate Cancer" and “Reversing Atherosclerosis Naturally."

You have to go directly to scientific studies to see what's happening and whether researchers are talking about the extract of the seeds, stems, and leaves as well as the fruit or just the juice of the fruit mixed with water. Now the question goes to whether marketing claims deserve consideration as free speech.

If you look at the Forbes article, you can read that Pom Wonderful is owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick, reported by Forbes magazine to be billionaires and that the couple’s agricultural ventures, through their Roll Global holding company, include major citrus, almond and pistachio orchards in addition to pomegranate operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Here in Northern California, nearly 32,000 acres of pomegranates are planted in California. Kern County. This area leads in pomegranate production. If you live in Sacramento and have a backyard, you can plant a pomegranate tree there and have your own fruit to eat as you wish. As far as the law and what constitutes labeling of pomegranate juice, there will be a court decision in June, says the Forbes article. For more information, you also may wish to check out the Reuters news article, "U.S. top court asks if Coca-Cola juice label is misleading " and the New York Times article "Skeptical Justice Scolds Coca-Cola on Juice Label." Or you can read the legal case, "The case at the Supreme Court is POM Wonderful LLC v. The Coca-Cola Company, No. 12-761."

What are the non-drug approaches that reverse atherosclerosis caused by aging that studied pomegranates?

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 can 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.

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 pomegranate studies that look place in the last decade

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, 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, Kaplan M, Hayek T, Raz A, et al. 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, and 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. Clinical Nutrition. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.