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Nature’s Perfect Fruit: The Pomegranate

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The antioxidant-rich pomegranate is hailed by fitness experts, health officials and the media

The all-powerful pomegranate. The health benefits of this delicious exotic fruit are extraordinary: pomegranate juice has almost three times the antioxidant potency of an equal volume of green tea or red wine.
pomegranate

And for an aging society that is increasingly health conscious, that rightfully puts pomegranates on a very high pedestal. Why? Because antioxidants help neutralize free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive chemical substances that can damage our body’s cellular materials. Free radicals have been linked to major degenerative illnesses and accelerated aging.

According to a study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Pomegranates are proving to be the most powerful antioxidant source available, better than red wine, tomatoes, vitamin E and a variety of other headline makers.”
You know the pomegranate is hot when even the fashion press shouts its praises. A recent article in Vogue magazine exclaims: “Move over, blueberries - it’s all about pomegranates. Scientists have been obsessing over the fruit more than ever. Labs have discovered pomegranates are good for the heart!”

Flex magazine writes: “Pomegranates are a great source of antioxidants, in fact, the juice from pomegranates is higher in antioxidants than any other drink.”

And a Reuters story was headlined: “Pomegranate Juice Each Day May Keep the Cardiologist Away.”

This fruit may also help lower cholesterol, studies show. In a study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, men drinking pomegranate juice significantly increased the antioxidant level in their blood, and reduced oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Other studies indicate a diversity of benefits beyond cardiovascular health.

Time magazine recently profiled the exceptional health benefits of the pomegranate fruit under the heading “Pomegranate Power.” Time writes: “The pomegranate, with its regal crown and sparkling scarlet arils, is the ‘in’ fruit among American’s leading health buffs. And for good reason - it has a tart, refreshing flavor, an ancient lineage, and provides a wallop of antioxidants.”

Pomegranates also contain various nutritious and pharmacological substances such as vitamins (B1, B2, C and niacin), minerals (potassium, in particular), amino acids (glutanic acid, aspartic acid), tannins (punicalagin, ellagic acid) and alkaloids (pelletierines). As a potent source of antioxidants, the pomegranate is rich in polyphenols, which promote heart health.

In a strong confirmation of the power of pomegranates to fight heart disease, studies of healthy human subjects showed why even moderate consumption of pomegranate juice could have significant clinical results.

According to studies at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the cholesterol oxidation process - which creates atherosclerotic lesions that narrow arteries and result in heart disease - was slowed by as much as 40 percent when healthy subjects drank 2 to 3 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for two weeks. Further, the juice reduced the retention of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that after its oxidation aggregates and forms atherosclerotic lesions.

References
N. P. Seeram, S. M. Henning, Y. Zhang, M. Suchard, Z. Li, and D. Heber Pomegranate Juice Ellagitannin Metabolites; J. Nutr., October 1, 2006; 136(10): 2481 - 2485. B. L Halvorsen, M. H Carlsen, K. M Phillips, S. K Bohn, K. Holte, D. R Jacobs Jr, and R. Blomhoff Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States; Am. J. Clinical Nutrition, July 1, 2006; 84(1): 95 - 135; American Technion Society Connections Electronic Newsletter June 25, 2003.

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