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Pomegranate Juice: A World of Nutritional and Health Benefits
November is National Pomegranate Month! Not only does this ruby red fruit have a delicious tart flavor — it’s also exceptionally good for you! The juice in particular has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and heart health benefits. This could be due in part to its exceptional nutritional profile.
A one-cup serving of 100% pomegranate juice provides:
·32% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin K, which is necessary for healthy blood coagulation and the metabolism of calcium.
·15% of the DV of folate, a B vitamin that supports heart health and healthy aging, prevents birth defects, and may help prevent cancer.
·15% of the DV of potassium, an electrolyte that maintains fluid balance in cells and is critical to a healthy heart.
·12% of the DV of manganese, a mineral that plays a role in bone, joint, and skin health.
·Just 134 calories!
Just note: Pomegranate juice is often mixed with other juices, so if you’re drinking it for your health, read the label carefully to make sure you’re not drinking a juice blend with just a splash of pomegranate.
What does the research say about pomegranate juice? It’s still in the early stages, but here are some promising initial findings:
Can pomegranate help with arthritis prevention? That’s the implication of one study, which found that when mice were fed pomegranate juice extract daily, they were less likely to develop arthritis than mice who didn’t down the beverage. And when the pomegranate-juice-drinking mice did develop the disease, they got it later in life and had milder versions.[i] How does pomegranate juice help with arthritis prevention? Laboratory research suggests it may help reduce inflammation, which underlies many health conditions, including arthritis.[ii]
Slows Prostate Cancer
Another promising area of research for pomegranate juice is in the realm of slowing prostate cancer growth. One study of men who had undergone treatment for prostate cancer found that drinking one cup of pomegranate juice a day helped slow the time it took for their PSA — a marker of cancer progression — to double from 15 to 54 months.[iii] Because prostate cancer usually occurs in older men and is typically slow-moving, if doctors can further slow the progress of the disease, patients can have a better shot at enjoying a normal life span. Test tube and animal studies on pomegranate and the prostate also point to a beneficial effect.[iv],[v]
Supports a Healthy Heart
You may have heard that pomegranate helps reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, heart health is the best-studied area of pomegranate research. A well-designed study of 289 people found that drinking a cup of pomegranate juice a day helped reduce atherosclerosis (also known as hardening of the arteries) in those who were already at increased risk for heart disease.[vi] Smaller studies also found pomegranate juice reduced the thickness of the arteries, increased blood flow to and from the heart, and improved cholesterol readings.[vii],[viii],[ix]
Do you eat pomegranates or drink pomegranate juice? What’s your favorite way to prepare them?
[i] Shukla M, et al. Consumption of hydrolysable tannins-rich pomegranate extract suppresses inflammation and joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis. Nutrition. 2008;24:733-43.
[ii] Rasheed Z, et al. Polyphenol-rich pomegranate fruit extract (POMx) suppresses PMACI-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines by inhibiting the activation of MAP Kinases and NF-KB in human KU812 cells. J Inflamm. 2009;6(1). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2625340/
[iii] Pantuck A, et al. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2006 July 1;12(13):4018-26.
[iv] Sartippour M, et al. Ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract inhibits angiogenesis in prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. Int J Oncol. 2008;32475-80.
[v] Seeram NP, et al. Pomegranate ellagitannin-derived metabolites inhibit prostate cancer growth and localize to the mouse prostate gland. J Agric Food Chem. 2007;55:7732-7.
[vi] Davidson MH, et al. Effects of consumption of pomegranate juice on carotid intima-media thickness in men and women at moderate risk for heart disease. Am J Cardiol. 2009 Oct 1;104(7):936-42.
[vii] Aviram M, 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. Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.
[viii] Aviram M, Dornfield L. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis. 2001 Sep;158(1):195-8.
[ix] Aviram M, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am Clin J Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1062-76.
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