Nutritional benefits & health risks of pomegranate
“How much pomegranate juice should I drink?” “How many capsules are recommended to bring my cholesterol down?” These types of health fruit questions flurry the internet as soon as a scientific study appears to show benefit for a substance, often in an overly optimistic perspective.
Get ready for a ‘health fruit pomegranate cures all’ bonanza. A couple studies have suggested that pomegranate may be healthful in treating breast cancer and heart disease. By the time ‘health gurus’ got a hold of this news and interpreted the results to their financial benefit, pomegranate juice had become the new natural magic superfood. Already you can find pomegranate supplement capsules in health food stores with claims to fight cancer and menopause.
The truth about pomegranate nutrition
What did the study actually find? That compounds found in pomegranate have estrogen properties. Meaning, they can alter the way cells respond to the body’s own estrogen. This is definitely a lead since more than two-thirds of breast cancers are positive for estrogen; the body’s estrogen activates the development of tumor cells. In fact, any substance that can reduce the stimulation of estrogen is always braced, and it seems that some of the polyphenols in pomegranate can do that. They do this by blocking the activity of an enzyme called aromatase.
How did scientist discover the effect of pomegranate on breast cancer? In the laboratory, they found that, extracts of pomegranate seeds reduced the activity of 17-beta-estradiol, the primary estrogen culprit in breast cancer, by 50%! Breast cancer cells died much more rapidly than normal cells when they experienced the reduction in estrogen stimulation.
Keep in mind that these are laboratory findings and the results may differ in the human body. There is a huge difference in showering cultured cancer cells with pomegranate juice and drinking the juice itself. It is unknown if the active healthful ingredients make it to the tumor cells after being absorbed by the digestive tract. Nevertheless, it seems that pomegranate is not harmful and may do some good.
Benefits of pomegranate
Pomegranates are a good source of potassium; one fruit has about 400 mg more than most oranges. They also are loaded with vitamin C and fiber.
The role of pomegranate for preventing heart disease has more merit than its case for cancer. Researchers from Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel looked into pomegranate’s role on LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Oxidized LDL, the most damaging form, was substantially reduced when converted from LDL in the presence of pomegranate juice. Also, mice that were specially raised to develop hardened arteries were given pomegranate juice; results indicated a 44% reduced size of their lesions in their arteries.
Pomegranate and prostate cancer
A three year study done by the University of California of 50 men who had undergone surgery or radiation for prostate cancer showed a slowed rise of cancer markers called prostate-specific antigens (PSAs). When prostate cancer is present, PSA levels normally double every 15 months, for people who had consumed pomegranate juice, it took 54 months.
- People have reported complications when drinking pomegranate juice while on heart medications. Please consult with your doctor if you are under the care of a physician for heart disease
- Buy the fruit and stay away from supplements
- Avoid spilling any of the juice as it is virtually impossible to get rid of
- Tropical health fruits such as pomegranate pack vitamins and antioxidants, which are often destroyed when heated or cooked. Consider eating them raw to get its fullest health potential
- When exposed to air and sunlight, pomegranates quickly give up their vitamin C. Keep them in a cool dark place to preserve their freshness and nutrients
- Choose the fruits that are heavy for their size and have a bright, fresh colour and blemish free skin
Healthy pomegranate juice recipe
1 bottle fruity red wine
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup simple syrup (equal amounts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, cooled)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 large orange, halved and thinly sliced
1 green apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup red grapes, sliced in 1/2
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours before serving. Serve over ice.