Pomegranates, Pomegranate Juice & Prostate Health

The Pomegranate

We can subtitle this one:  Top 10 Health Benefits of Pomegranates and Pomegranate Juice!

This list is only a short one of all of the health benefits of pomegranates and pomegranate juice, but our fondness for all things “Prostate Cancer Awareness” drew our attention because a couple of notables on our efforts make the top ten list.

It used to be that pomegranates were viewed as one of those “exotic fruits” that some weren’t inclined to try outside of their comfort zone of apples, oranges, and bananas.  My, how times have changed.  Pomegranates find themselves perched high atop the super health food charts and is surprisingly devoid of any of the questions surrounding a  lot of the far-away nuts, beans, roots, and other natural supplements that purport to have great health impacts on the human body.  Pomegranates are one of those super anti-oxidants with many beneficial qualities.

Born of a shrub/tree that is of Middle Eastern and Asian origin, this “bushy tree” produces the highly regarded pomegranate fruit.  Pomegranates contain nutrient-rich pulp and seeds, but offers consumers the challenge of breaking through the hard outer covering protecting the wonderful fruit and seed within.  For those of you who are put-off by work offered from the fresh pomegranate, relax!  You have alternatives available including pomegranate supplements and  pomegranate juice such as the POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice.

So, here’s our Top 10 List of potential health benefits that come with the consumption of pomegranates as part of your diet.

#1. Prostate Cancer Benefits!  Studies indicate that pomegranate extracts can assist prostate cells to die  via apoptosis, which is a form of cellular suicide. It can also slow the reproduction of prostate cancer cells.  Further, other pomegranate components, called ellagitannins, may interfere with the growth of new blood vessels necessary to feed prostate tumors.  Other compounds, specifically punicic acid, kaempferol, and delphinidin chloride may inhibit prostate cell growth often stimulated by dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  And finally – scientists have also noted that pomegranate can inhibit gene expression in androgen-independent prostate cancer.

#2. PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) Benefits!  In studies, men with prostate cancer and who had surgery or radiation but whose PSA levels had climbed were given 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily. While the average PSA level had doubled every 15 months before drinking the juice, it was taking nearly 60 months by the end of the study!  Pomegranate juice also was associated with a 17 percent increase in cancer cell apoptosis and a 12 percent decline in the spread of cancer cells.   Winner!  #3. Alzheimer’s Disease Benefits!  A Loma Linda University animal study where researchers utilized pomegranate juice to one group of mice and sugar water placebo to another group of mice offered promising results.  Those given  pomegranate juice learned tasks more quickly than those given the sugar water placebo. Further, pomegranate juice drinking mice had significantly less accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain. Beta-amyloid protein is believed to play a major role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease and was found to be reduced by approximately 50% in the mice tested.

#4. Healthy Heart Benefits!  In patients with coronary heart disease, daily pomegranate juice drinking over the course of three months improved stress-induced myocardial ischemia. Yet another study indicates pomegranate juice may reduce cholesterol accumulation along with formation of foam cells which contribute to lesion growth.   An analysis of both pomegranate juice and extract revealed that both have the ability to inhibit platelet activity, which helps to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

#5. Cholesterol and Blood Vessel Benefits!  Pomegranate juice has been associated with lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL).  Also, by preventing plaque buildup in the arteries and lesions, it helps to protect blood vessels by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries and the development of atherosclerotic lesions.  Other studies indicate that 100% pomegranate juice and 100% black currant juice were superior to other juices tested in inhibiting the formation of atherosclerotic lesions.

#6. Breast and Lung Cancer Benefits!  Israeli studies indicate pomegranate juice kills breast cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.  Further, it may also prevent breast cancer cells from developing in the first place.  Still other research shows that pomegranate juice may inhibit the lung cancer development.

#7. Supports Healthy Immune System!  Pomegranate extracts and pomegranate juice are both rich in polyphenols. Daily consumption of the super anti-oxidant properties in pomegranate juice serves to support the immune system’s antioxidant, antimalarial, and antimicrobial ability.

#8. Blood Pressure Benefits!  Research shows that adults with high blood pressure who drank 1.7 ounces of pomegranate juice daily lowered their systolic blood pressure by as much as 5 percent.

#9. Type 2 Diabetes Benefits!  Pomegranate seed oil, rich in CLA (conjugate linolenic acid), was connected with improved insulin sensitivity in one animal study.  That study suggests a potential reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Two other studies found that pomegranate juice and extract had a positive impact on diabetic patients.  It suggests that a daily intake of these pomegranate products may reduce their risk of atherosclerosis.

#10. Erectile Dysfunction Benefits!  Several studies provide evidence that pomegranate may have a role in erectile dysfunction.  Investigators compared pomegranate juice, red wine, green tea, and several berry juices.  Their findings indicate that pomegranate juice offered the most anti-oxidant benefits. It is reported that long-term intake of pomegranate juice improved erectile function and reduced erectile tissue fibrosis.

There you go, folks.  One thing is for certain, you can’t go wrong by adding pomegranate juice to your regular diet.  In addition to prostate cancer related benefits, there are a whole host of other areas of health improvement that we could all stand to gain from the once “exotic” pomegranate.

For more information, visit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Pomegranate Page.

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