Q. What’s the big deal about pomegranates? Is it true they have medicinal properties?
A. Throughout the ages, pomegranates have been revered for their medicinal properties and restorative powers. In fact, the fruit has been considered sacred in many religions around the world — from Christianity, Judaism and Islam to Buddhism, where it is one of the three blessed fruits.
Modern research shows that pomegranates contain compounds such as tannins and antioxidants that can have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and prostate gland.
Research published in September in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that 45 heart disease patients who consumed one glass of pomegranate juice daily for three months had improved blood flow to their hearts. According to Dr. Dean Ornish, pomegranate juice may reverse heart disease through its ability to inhibit plaque buildup in arteries.
Pomegranate juice may also be beneficial to men with erectile dysfunction due to clogged blood vessels. A study published in the Journal of Urology in July 2005 found that antioxidants found in pomegranate juice, along with other drinks high in antioxidants like blueberry juice, cranberry juice, orange juice, and green tea, improved erectile response.
In September 2001, a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis showed that some antioxidants in pomegranate juice could reduce blood pressure through their ability to affect the activity of an enzyme called “serum angiotensin converting enzyme.”
(Note: Some pharmaceutical drugs reduce blood pressure by inhibiting this same enzyme.)
Men with prostate cancer may also benefit from pomegranate juice. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that pomegranate extract may prevent prostate cancer or slow its growth. Their findings showed that prostate specific antigen (PSA) — which, when high, is an indicator of prostate cancer — was substantially lower in mice that were given pomegranate juice.
Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that pomegranate-derived compounds demonstrate considerable anti-tumor activity in the human prostate.
A study led by Dr. Allan Pantuck of UCLA involving 48 men with recurrent prostate cancer showed that drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily significantly increased the time it took for PSA levels to rise. In addition, there was decreased cancer cell division, decreased proliferation of cancer cells and increased cancer cell death.
If you want to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease or prostate cancer, drinking the juice of this long-revered fruit may help you live a longer and healthier life.
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com