THE WONDERS OF POMEGRANATE   

       altThe fruit of the pomegranate tree has been shown to have tremendous health benefits. The pomegranate is native to Iran, the Himalayas and northern India and has been cultivated over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times. The tree was introduced into California by Spanish settlers in 1769. In this country it is grown mainly in the drier parts of California and Arizona.


       Pomegranate fruit contains polyphenols which are chemical compounds that perform antioxidant activity in the body.  A major polyphenol found in pomegranate is ellagitannin, which hydrolyzes in the body (breaks down) into ellagic acid.   The Hollings Cancer Institute at the University of South Carolina conducted a nine year double blind study on a group of 500 cervical cancer patients and found that ellagic acid inhibited mitosis (proliferation) of cancer cells and facilitated apoptosis ( cell death)  for breast, pancreas, esophageal, skin, colon and prostate cancer cells.  Ellagic acid inhibits the initiation of tumors through a number of mechanisms, including inhibition of metabolic activation of carcinogenic compounds such as hydrocarbons and certain food preservatives.  Therefore this acid is beneficial as a preventive against cancer.

       A study done at the University of California in 2006 demonstrated that the drinking of an eight ounce glass of pomegranate juice on a daily basis resulted in a significant reduction in the elevation of PSA levels.  Elevation of PSA (prostrate specific antigen) levels is a marker for prostate cancer development.  The men in this study had all been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had undergone surgery or radiation treatment but had continued to experience raising levels of PSA. Before drinking the pomegranate juice the PSA of these men was doubling every 15 months.  After drinking pomegranate juice on a daily basis for a specified period of time, it took 54 months for PSA to double.  Drinking pomegranate juice appears to have significantly slowed down the increase in levels of PSA which indicates a significant slowdown in the growth of cancer associated with the prostate cancer.

       Pomegranates apparent ability to slow the growth of prostate cancer may be due to this fruits content of punicic, ellagic, caffeic and luteolin acids in its seed oil.  In a 2005 study, PC-3 (advanced prostate cancer cells) were added to an artificial membrane made from a gelatinous protein mixture to which these acids had been added.  It was found these acids prevented the cancer cells from invading the membrane.  These results were obtained when employing these acids individually or in combination with each other.

       Some research has showed that pomegranate extracts will cause differentiation in leukemia cells. Differentiation is the ability of cancer cells to revert back to their normal non-cancerous identities.  These results appear to be better obtained by using fermented pomegranate products such as pomegranate wine than using fresh juice.


       Activation of a compound named NF-kappaB leads to development of inflammatory plaque in the arteries.  Compounds in pomegranate have been shown to inhibit the activation of this protein compound and thus help guard against plaque buildup.

       Pomegranate increases the production of a protective cytokine called prostacyclin which reduces blood clotting in the arterial system which in turn reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.  Pomegranate has been shown to inhibit a blood serum enzyme called ACE that can rise systolic (the upper number) blood pressure and thus it protects against the damaging effects of high blood pressure.

       Pomegranate increases the activity of the enzyme paraoxonase (PON-1).  This enzyme is found in HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol and plays a role in HDL’s ability to collect oxidized LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol from the walls of the arteries and transport it to the liver for processing.  This activity of HDL prevents plaque buildup in the arterial system. In a mouse study reported in May of 2013, it was found that mice treated with pomegranate extract showed a shrinkage of plaque in their arteries and an overall reduction in the number of arteries clogged with plaque. 

       According to Professor Michael Aviram of the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel,  sugars in most juices are in a free form state and must be metabolized like all other sugar that enters the body, the sugars in pomegranate juice are bound to antioxidants which result in these sugars helping to prevent oxidative damage such as is found in atherosclerosis. Most of the current research on pomegranate has come from Israel. Professor Aviram and his group in Haifa have published a number of papers. They have shown that pomegranate juice reduces the various parameters that lead to heart disease by reducing macrophage lipid peroxidation and cholesterol accumulation in the arterial system. In one research project, Dr. Aviram exposed the blood of human volunteers to copper sulfate before and after drinking pomegranate juice. Copper acts as a catalyst that accelerates cholesterol oxidation. Consumption of pomegranate juice dramatically increased the resistance of both HDL and LDL cholesterol to oxidation.

       Recent research, published in the Journal Atherosclerosis (Vol. 187, pp. 363-371), reports that subjects that drank 50 ml of pomegranate juice (containing 1.5 millimoles of polyphenols) every day for three months experienced a reduced risk for atherosclerosis.  In another clinical trial, 22 patients drank 40 grams per day of concentrated pomegranate juice for 8 weeks. Compared to 8 weeks before treatment, taking pomegranate was associated with significant reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, and total HDL cholesterol ratio.

       In a double blind placebo controlled clinical trial published in the British Journal of Nutrition in August of 2010, it was demonstrated that after taking a 400 mg supplement of pomegranate seed oil twice daily for four weeks, high triglycerides levels dropped significantly and the ratio between triglycerides and HDL cholesterol improved. 


       It should be noted that most research done with pomegranate was done with concentrates or extracts of pomegranate and not with mass market, commercially available pomegranate juice which is often deluded with other juices and/or has sugar added.  To obtain results using pomegranate juice it is important that you drink 100% pomegranate juice or take pomegranate in supplemental form.  At Milk ‘N Honey we offer a 100% pomegranate juice, as well as, pomegranate in softgels.

       Our softgel product is called Pomegranate Seed Oil from the company EuroPharma. Taking two softgels is equal to drinking 14 ounces of pomegranate juice.  This product contains pomegranate seed oil extract which is rich in punicic acid and pomegranate seed extract which is high in polyphenols.