Pomegranate fruit has a long history of use in the folk medicine of many cultures. Like other berries and grapes, pomegranate possess significant antioxidant properties derived from components such as polyphenolics, tannins and anthocyanins. This tart fruit now gives us reasons to do further research with its benefits associated with cardiovascular disease.
In a small study with a group of 19 patients ranging in age from 65-75 years with symptomatic severe carotid artery stenosis (clogged arteries), half of the patients received 50 ml of pomegranate juice and the other half another juice. They drank just 50 ml of juice each day for a year. Fifty milliliters (50 ml) is only 1/5th of a cup!
Ultrasound images of the carotid artery wall boundaries were taken and arteriosclerotic plaques were measured along with their length and width. The velocity of blood flow in the carotid arteries were calculated at sites of stenosis.
Among the 10 patients that consumed pomegranate juice, the medial wall thickness of the carotid arteries decreased by 13%, 22%, 26% and 35% at months 3, 6, 9, and 12, respectively. In the placebo group, the average wall thickness increased significantly by 9%.
Also, blood pressure fell in the pomegranate juice group. Systolic blood pressure fell from 174 mm Hg at baseline to 153 mm Hg at 12 months. The researchers also measured serum serum glucose and cholesterol levels. Although these levels did not change significantly between the groups, the atherosclerotic lesions of patients in the pomegranate group was reduced by 61% and 44% at 3 and 12 months respectively.
Another group of researchers including Dr. Dean Ornish evaluated pomegranate juice in 45 patients with coronary heart disease. The pomegranate group drank 240 ml (which is 1 cup) daily. Blood perfusion in the heart increased by 17% after 3 months in the pomegranate group and worsened by an average of 18% in the control group. Angina episodes (chest pain) decreased by 50% in the treatment group and increased by 38% in the control group. The benefits were seen without any change in cardiac meds.
I’m sure more larger studies will be performed that will tell us more about this incredible fruit.
In the meantime…drink up!