Foods

Health Benefits of Pomegranate

pomegranate

Secrets Revealed: The Powerful Health Benefits of the Pomegranate

One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of Persia. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life.

If you’re not familiar with the pomegranate, it is a red fruit with a tough outer layer; only the juice and the seeds inside are edible. Pomegranate juice is available year round, but you can purchase fresh pomegranates in most grocery stores from September through January. When refrigerated in a plastic bag, pomegranates keep for up to 2 months. Try tossing the seeds on a salad for a brilliantly colorful, crunchy, and nutritious addition.

Seeding a pomegranate may seem like a lot of work for just a piece of fruit but think again, getting at those seeds may be well worth it. The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.1

Amazing Clinical Results This fantastic little fruit recently made its way back into the news after some spectacular clinical results. Here’s what you need to know:

A compound found only in pomegranates called punicalagin is shown to benefit the heart and blood vessels. Punicalagin is the major component responsible for pomegranate’s antioxidant and health benefits. It not only lowers cholesterol, but also lowers blood pressure and increases the speed at which heart blockages (atherosclerosis) melt away.

Recent medical research studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages. They were given an ounce of pomegranate juice each day for a year. Not only did study participants’ blood pressure lower by over 12 percent, but there was a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque. Just as astounding, participants who did not take the pomegranate juice saw their atherosclerotic plaque increase by 9 percent.2

In other studies, potent antioxidant compounds found in pomegranates have shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.3

Not only are pomegranates good for your heart and blood vessels but they have been shown to inhibit breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia and to prevent vascular changes that promote tumor growth in lab animals.4 Several in vitro studies have shown this remarkable anti-cancer effect.5 Additional studies and clinical trials currently taking place are hopeful to reveal this fascinating effect on humans.

Also of note, pomegranate juice contains phytochemical compounds that stimulate serotonin and estrogen receptors, improving symptoms of depression and increasing bone mass in lab animals.6

Health Benefits of the Pomegranate

  • Most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits
  • Potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects
  • Inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that could cause heart attacks, strokes and embolic disease
  • Lowers cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Shown to promote reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in human studies
  • May have benefits to relieve or protect against depression and osteoporosis

Many studies show that the pomegranate is one of the most powerful, nutrient dense foods for overall good health. These clinical findings clearly show a correlation between pomegranate compounds and their positive effect on both human and animal cardiovascular, nervous, and skeletal health. This is one fruit that you can’t afford to exclude from your diet!

Seeding a Pomegranate

  1. Cut the crown (protruding blossom end) off the pomegranate, removing with it some of the pale-yellow pith. Take care not to pierce the seeds within.
  2. Lightly score the skin in quarters from stem to crown end.
  3. Immerse the scored fruit in a large bowl of cool water and soak for 5 minutes. Holding the fruit under water, break sections apart with your fingers, separating the seeds from membrane. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Discard skin and membranes. Drain the seeds and dry on paper towels.

Antioxidant Rich Smoothie
Serves: 2 Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
8 cups organic baby spinach
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 cup strawberries, frozen
8 dates, cut in half
2 tablespoons flaxseeds, ground
1/2 avocado, optional

Instructions:
Blend all ingredients together. This is delicious & very healthy!

References:

  1. Seeram NP, Aviram M, Zhang Y, et al: Comparison of antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States. J Agric Food Chem 2008, 56:1415-1422. 2. 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. Clin Nutr 2004;23(3):423-33.
  2. Aviram M, Dornfeld L, Rosenblat 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 J Clin Nutr 2000;71(5):1062-76. Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomeganate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin coverting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis 2001;158(1):195-8.
  3. Kim ND, Mehta R, Yu W, et al. Chemopreventive and adjuvant therapeutic potential of pomegranate (Punica granatum) for human breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2002;71(3):203-17. Kohno H, Suzuki R, Yasui Y, et al. Pomegranate seed oil rich in conjugated linolenic acid suppresses chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats.Cancer Sci 2004;95(6):481-6.

Toi M, Bando H, Ramachandran C, et al. Preliminary studies on the anti-angiogenic potential of pomegranate fractions in vitro and in vivo. Angiogenesis 2003;6(2):121-8.

Kawaii S, Lansky EP. Differentiation-promoting activity of pomegranate (Punica granatum) fruit extracts in HL-60 human promyelocytic leukemia cells. J Med Food 2004;7(1):13-8. 5. Adams LS, Seeram NP, Aggarwal BB, et al: Pomegranate juice, total pomegranate ellagitannins, and punicalagin suppress inflammatory cell signaling in colon cancer cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemis ry 2006, 54:980-985. Toi M, Bando H, Ramachandran C, et al: Preliminary studies on the anti-angiogenic potential of pomegranate fractions in vitro and in vivo. Angiogenesis 2003, 6:121-128. Sartippour MR, Seeram NP, Rao JY, et al: Ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract inhibits angiogenesis in prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. Int J Oncol 2008, 32:475-480. Adams LS, Zhang Y, Seeram NP, et al: Pomegranate ellagitannin-derived compounds exhibit antiproliferative and antiaromatase activity in breast cancer cells in vitro. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2010, 3:108-113.

  1. Mori-Okamoto J, Otawara-Hamamoto Y, Yamato H, Yoshimura H. Pomegranate extract improves a depressive state and bone properties in menopausal syndrome model ovariectomized mice. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;92(1):93-101.
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Foods

The Allium Family

oniongarlic

The Allium family of vegetables includes onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions. Epidemiological studies have found that increased consumption of Allium vegetables is associated with decreased risk of several cancers. For example, one large European study found striking risk reductions in the participants who consumed the greatest quantities of onions or garlic for oral, esophageal, colorectal, laryngeal, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers. A fifty-five to eighty percent reduction of almost all major cancers. Amazing!1

Anti-cancer effects of onions and garlic Allium vegetables are rich in cancer-fighting organosulfur compounds, which are produced when the cell walls of the vegetables are broken down by chopping, crushing, or chewing. These compounds are thought to be mostly responsible for the cancer-protective effects of Allium vegetables. In scientific studies, organosulfur compounds prevent the development of cancers by detoxifying carcinogens and halting cancer cell growth. These garlic and onion phytochemicals are also anti-angiogenic, which means that they can prevent tumors from obtaining a blood supply to fuel their growth.2 In studies of breast cancer cells, garlic and onion phytochemicals have caused cell death or halted cell division, preventing the cancer cells from multiplying.3-5

Onions, garlic, and their family members also contain flavonoids and phenols. White onions are not as rich in these antioxidant compounds as yellow and red, and shallots are especially high in polyphenol levels. Red onions are particularly rich in anthocyanins (also abundant in berries) and quercetin.6 Flavonoids such as quercetin can contribute to preventing damaged cells from advancing to cancer, and also have anti-inflammatory effects that may contribute to cancer prevention.7-1

Fighting Heart Disease

Consuming onions and garlic also might help you prevent heart disease. Onions are rich in natural chemicals called flavonoids, which can protect you from heart disease, says Vegetarian Nutrition.info., and onions also might reduce your risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and other forms of heart disease. Garlic might also decrease your risk of blood clots, help keep your arteries flexible and help reduce your blood pressure, the Linus Pauling Institute reports.

Onions and the other vegetables of the Allium family can be added to any and every vegetable dish for great flavor and anti-cancer benefits. Remember that they must be eaten raw and chewed well or chopped finely before cooking to initiate the chemical reaction that forms the protective sulfur compounds. When you cut onions and your eyes begin to tear, they are creating the anti-cancer sulfur compounds.

Adding Onions and Garlic to Your Diet

Allium vegetables such as onions and garlic are the richest food sources of healthy sulfur compounds, which recommends eating them regularly to obtain their full health benefits, rather than taking supplements that might contain widely varying amounts of the healthy compounds. Onions and garlic have complementary tastes, so you might eat them together in the same meals. You can also add onions to stir fry dishes and use them to flavor soups, salads and dips. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends eating garlic cloves raw, or crushing or chopping garlic cloves before cooking them to help them retain their beneficial compounds during the cooking process.

How to cut an onion to maximize anti-cancer compounds and minimize eye irritation:

  • Make sure that the onion is cold before you cut it. Even putting the onion in the freezer for 5 minutes is sufficient.
  • You can use a fan to blow the gaseous compounds away from you if you like.
  • Cut the end of the root off with the root facing away from you, preserving as much of the onion adjacent to the root as possible. The root is the part of the onion with the highest concentration of these anti-cancer compounds.
  • Make sure to then cut or chop the onion finely, slice thinly, or put it in a food processor before adding to your soup, salad, or vegetable dish to maximize the production of sulfur compounds.

References 1. Galeone C, Pelucchi C, Levi F, et al. Onion and garlic use and human cancer. Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:1027-1032. 2. Powolny A, Singh S. Multitargeted prevention and therapy of cancer by diallyl trisulfide and related Allium vegetable-derived organosulfur compounds. Cancer Lett 2008;269:305-314. 3. Modem S, Dicarlo SE, Reddy TR. Fresh Garlic Extract Induces Growth Arrest and Morphological Differentiation of MCF7 Breast Cancer Cells. Genes Cancer 2012;3:177-186. 4. Na HK, Kim EH, Choi MA, et al. Diallyl trisulfide induces apoptosis in human breast cancer cells through ROS-mediated activation of JNK and AP-1. Biochem Pharmacol 2012. 5. Malki A, El-Saadani M, Sultan AS. Garlic constituent diallyl trisulfide induced apoptosis in MCF7 human breast cancer cells. Cancer Biol Ther 2009;8:2175-2185. 6. Slimestad R, Fossen T, Vagen IM. Onions: a source of unique dietary flavonoids. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55:10067-10080. 7. Ravasco P, Aranha MM, Borralho PM, et al. Colorectal cancer: can nutrients modulate NF-kappaB and apoptosis? Clin Nutr 2010;29:42-46. 8. Miyamoto S, Yasui Y, Ohigashi H, et al. Dietary flavonoids suppress azoxymethane-induced colonic preneoplastic lesions in male C57BL/KsJ-db/db mice. Chem Biol Interact 2010;183:276-283. 9. Shan BE, Wang MX, Li RQ. Quercetin inhibit human SW480 colon cancer growth in association with inhibition of cyclin D1 and survivin expression through Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway. Cancer Invest 2009;27:604-612. 10. Pierini R, Gee JM, Belshaw NJ, et al. Flavonoids and intestinal cancers. Br J Nutr 2008;99 E Suppl 1:ES53-59.