This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
A new study finds that a supplement made of pomegranate extract can help keep blood vessels healthy, which is vitally important for preventing heart attacks and strokes. It may even counter some of the cardiovascular-damaging effects of fatty food and help clear the arteries of the accumulation of plaque.
Research conducted at the Catalan Institute for Cardiovascular Sciences in Spain found that the polyphenols contained within pomegranates can help protect the endothelium, the internal lining of blood vessels. This lining is important because it releases chemicals that control the constriction and dilation of blood vessels. Damage to this delicate tissue can be the first step toward the development of atherosclerosis, otherwise known as hardening of the arteries, a condition that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Effects of a High Fat Diet
Scientists chose pigs for the study because their cardiovascular system is similar to that of humans. The pigs were divided into two groups. One group was fed a normal diet while the other group was fed a high cholesterol diet.
As expected, the pigs fed the high fat diet incurred damage to the endothelium, manifesting in less elasticity of the blood vessels. Moreover, they produced less nitric oxide, a gas that widens blood vessels. In addition to these effects, the pigs displayed other signs of heart problems.
Pomegranate Reversed Many of the Bad Effects
Amazingly, when the pigs on the high cholesterol diet were given a daily dose of Pomanex, a 200 mg pomegranate supplement, it reversed many of the negative effects of the unhealthy diet. Researcher Dr. Lina Badimon said that adding pomegranate polyphenols to a diet can prevent and slow the development of endothelial dysfunction, which is one of the first signs of cardiovascular disease. Pomanex contains 60 mg of polyphenols called punicalagins within a 200 mg dose.
What Do Other Studies on Pomegranates Show?
Another study corroborates the findings of this research, as it indicated that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily can increase the blood flow to the heart by more than one-third in people whose arteries are clogged.
In a study published in the August 25, 2009 issue of Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, scientists found the consumption of a pomegranate product called POM Wonderful enhanced the growth of good bacteria in the intestinal tract.
Studies published in the November 2012 and December 2012 of Breast Cancer show pomegranate may be helpful in fighting this malignancy.
Preliminary research shows pomegranate can lower systolic blood pressure, which is the top number, but not diastolic, the bottom number.
A test tube study shows pomegranate may prevent the production of an enzyme that erodes cartilage in joints. More research is needed, but the promising findings suggest the fruit could help fight arthritis.
- Pomegranate juice is likely safe for most people, but be careful not to eat the root or stem. The fruit is extremely beneficial for health, but the root contains a poison.
- Stop taking pomegranate juice at least two weeks prior to a scheduled surgery.
- Some people may be allergic to this fruit. Those who have plant allergies are more likely to have an allergic reaction.
- Pomegranate can lower blood pressure, so if you take blood pressure medication the juice could present the risk of low blood pressure.