Since ancient times, pomegranate has been valued for its medicinal properties. But off late, it has been elevated to the status of ‘Superfood’ by North Americans due to its rich reserve of antioxidants in the form of hydrolyzable tannins. These account for 92% of the antioxidant activity of pomegranate which is what makes it so beneficial in various health conditions.
In case of cardiac conditions, the antioxidant properties of pomegranate prevent the lipid peroxidation of LDL cholesterol thereby reducing the carotid artery thickness. In fact, the whole fruit has more antioxidant power than cranberry juice or green tea. Scientists believe that pomegranate’s polyphenols may also help in preventing plaque built up in healthy people. Some studies also recommend pomegranate juice (one cup a day) to slow down the progression of prostate cancer.
Furthermore, pomegranate is a rich source of fibre, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. One pomegranate a day has the potential to supply one third of your daily vitamin C and one-quarter of a day’s worth of folate requirement.
With its sweet crispiness, you can make it part of your daily diet by including it in your fruit salad, topping it over your cornflakes, oatmeal or even salads.
Pomegranate juice when had daily has been found to help reduce myocardial ischemia (poor blood flow to the heart muscle) brought on by stress or exercise.
A study was conducted at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, USA, involving a small group of people with coronary heart disease. Despite the small size of the study group, the study design was robust and the outcome had immense clinical relevance. The study group was given a daily dose of about one cup (240 mL) of pomegranate juice that they were asked to drink. The result of this study was a real eye-opener. For the first time ever, it was demonstrated that the daily consumption of pomegranate juice for a continued stretch of three months has the potential to reduce the risk of myocardial ischemia and improve myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease.
It was found that the study participants who drank the pomegranate juice experienced a 17% improvement in blood flow to the heart muscle, whereas those given a placebo beverage had an average worsening of 18%.
Researchers indicate that due to its high levels of polyphenols (a group of vegetable chemical substances that have been shown to act as antioxidants) pomegranate has its extensive cardiac benefits. “Our findings are consistent with results reported by others who have demonstrated the beneficial effects of beverages high in polyphenols,” note the researchers.
While this study sets the foundation for establishing the health benefits of pomegranate, researchers believe that further studies of a similar nature should be conducted with larger groups and for a longer period of time in order to bolster the findings of this primary study.