Posted by antiaging as Anti-Aging Products
Pomegranates play a role in health for their anti aging properties in many cultures around the world. You can find pomegranate juice and other products touting the health benefits of pomegranates in almost any grocery in the United States. Are pomegranates worth the extra price?
Pomegranates come from small fruit tress that originally came from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. These trees have been cultivated all around the world for thousands of years. You can even find pomegranate trees in California.
Health Claims of Pomegranates
The pomegranate fruit contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C, as well as other vitamins and minerals. All these nutritional components lead to claims of boosting the immune system, helping the heart and even fighting cancer.
Are the Health Claims About Pomegranates True?
Well, sort of. Notice how health claims on exotic anti aging products don’t ever give a percentage of benefit? The products simply say “cancer fighting” not “reduces prostate cancer risk by 20%.” The reason for this is that these claims are usually made by marketers in principle, meaning that because we know that vitamin C is generally good for the immune system and pomegranates contain a lot of vitamin C, they also likely boost the immune system. It’s not to say that pomegranates don’t help out — it’s just that other fruits, supplements and foods do, too.
Should I Eat More Pomegranates?
Probably. It is a good idea to eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Adding in some occasional pomegranate juice will give your body some nutrients it wouldn’t be getting from other sources. But you don’t have to go pomegranate crazy. Just work some into your weekly diet.
Ways to Get Your Pomegranate
The easiest (and most expensive) way to work pomegranate into your diet is to buy pomegranate juice. These juices contain high concentrations of pomegranate and have a strong, almost bitter taste. I have to cut my pomegranate juice with water or club soda.
A more fun way to get pomegranates in your diet is a sweet syrup made from pomegranates called grenadine. This syrup can be used to add exotic flavors to cooking or cocktails. If you are very good in the kitchen, you can even buy whole pomegranates and work with the fruit yourself. There are some tricks to cutting and working with pomegranate fruit.
Nutrients and phytochemicals
Pomegranate sepals and drying stamens after fertilization and petal fall
Pomegranate aril juice provides about 16% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and polyphenols, such as ellagitannins and flavonoids.
Pomegranates are listed as high-fiber in some charts of nutritional value. That fiber, however, is entirely contained in the edible seeds which also supply unsaturated oils. People who choose to discard the seeds forfeit nutritional benefits conveyed by the seed fiber, oils and micronutrients.
The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate juice are the hydrolyzable tannins called ellagitannins formed when ellagic acid binds with a carbohydrate. Pomegranate ellagitannins, also called punicalagins, are tannins with free-radical scavenging properties in laboratory experiments and with potential human effects. Punicalagins are absorbed into the human body and may have dietary value as antioxidants, but conclusive proof of efficacy in humans has not yet been shown. During intestinal metabolism by bacteria, ellagitannins and punicalagins are converted to urolithins which have unknown biological activity in vivo. The different punicalagins present in P. granatum are granatin A and B, punicacortein A, B, C and D, 5-O-galloylpunicacortein D, punicafolin, punigluconin, punicalagin, 1-alpha-O-galloylpunicalagin, punicalin and 2-O-galloyl-punicalin.
Other phytochemicals include phenolic catechins, gallocatechins, and anthocyanins, such as prodelphinidins, delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin. The ORAC (antioxidant capacity) of pomegranate juice was measured at 2,860 units per 100 grams.
Many food and dietary supplement makers use pomegranate phenolic extracts as ingredients in their products instead of the juice. One of these extracts is ellagic acid, which may become bioavailable only after parent molecule punicalagins are metabolized. However, ingested ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not accumulate in the blood in significant quantities and is rapidly excreted. Accordingly, ellagic acid from pomegranate juice does not appear to be biologically important in vivo.
 Potential health benefits
In preliminary laboratory research and clinical trials, juice of the pomegranate may be effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation. In an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, researchers detailed an experiment in which healthy adult men and unhealthy mice consumed pomegranate juice daily. After two weeks, the healthy men experienced increased antioxidant levels, which resulted in a ninety percent drop in LDL cholestoral oxidation. In the mice, “oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption…”.
In a limited study of hypertensive patients, consumption of pomegranate juice for two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme. Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections while pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.
Despite limited research data, manufacturers and marketers of pomegranate juice have liberally used evolving research results for product promotion, especially for putative antioxidant health benefits. In February 2010, the FDA issued a Warning Letter to one such manufacturer, POM Wonderful, for using published literature to make illegal claims of unproven antioxidant and anti-disease benefits.