Herb of the Month: Pomegranate

pomegranate for health

Many of us enjoy pomegranate as a fresh fruit in salads or juices. However, it is more than just a delicious fruit. Pomegranate also has many health benefits.

Anti-oxidant:

Pomegranates strong antioxidant activity owes to its polyphenolic content, which are mostly found in the juice and the peel. There it contains ellagitannins, specifically: punicalagins, punicalins, gallagic acid, and ellagic acid. It’s these constituents that help prevent oxidation in a few different ways including, reducing macrophage oxidative stress, free radicals and lipid peroxidation. It’s been found that pomegranates antioxidant effect is up to three times more potent than green tea or red wine!

Anti-inflammatory:

Pomegranate contains anthocyanins, the constituent that gives it it’s beautiful red colour in the juice (not the seed!). This flavonoid indirectly inhibits inflammatory markers such as necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which often are elevated in inflammatory diseases. Studies have found that pomegranate juice and extract decreased vascular inflammation markers and increased nitric oxide. Making it a notable food to include in the diet for preventing cardiovascular disease.

Anti-cancer:

Studies have shown pomegranate fruit to inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. It reduced prostate cancer cell growth through its inhibition of NFkb. Similar results occurred in lung cancer cells, where the signalling pathway was interrupted by the pomegranate extract. The anti-inflammatory action of the fruit is also plays a role in the prevention of inflammation-related cancers.

Many of the studies used the fermented juice, extract or the oil. However, one study found that the fermented juice had twice the power of the fresh juice in preventing breast cancer cell replication. Something to consider for your next kombucha batch.

Gastrointestinal effects:

Another side benefit of pomegranate is it’s use for treating intestinal worms and microbes. The bark and the roots of the pomegranate contain alkaloids, which were traditionally used to treat worms in gastrointestinal system. Modern studies have found pomegranate rind extract to be effective against certain pathogenic microbes as well as the yeast Candida albicans.

For all these reasons above, scientists believe pomegranate to be helpful in preventing disease risk factors such as oxidative stress, inflammation, high cholesterol, hyperglycaemia and high blood pressure. It may also help fight off any nasty gut infections acquired over the holidays. Make sure you include it in your smoothies and salads this summer!

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