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New Powerhouse Fruit Combo Fights Heart Disease

Jun. 23, 2015|218 views
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Pomegranates are presently enjoying their moment in the sun, so to speak. If foods can be said to be stylish, pomegranates are riding a wave of fashion-forward popularity. While they’re trendy in the United States right now, they’ve been popular in the Old World since Biblical times.

Native to the Middle East, and cultivated for millennia in the Mediterranean basin, these baseball-sized fruits are revered. Inside each fruit is a collection of glistening, ruby-red seeds (arils), which yield an intensely sweet/tart juice and pulp. In the ancient Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda, pomegranates are considered both delicious food and potent medicine.

Modern research indicates that pomegranates are rich in potent and unique antioxidant compounds called punicalagins. They provide protection against oxidative stress by quenching potentially harmful free radicals. In laboratory studies, these compounds have been shown to exhibit activities consistent with cancer prevention. Much new research has focused on the potential health benefits of this ancient fruit.

Most recently, investigators from Israel published research which suggests that when combined with dates—another revered Middle Eastern fruit—pomegranates may help fight cardiovascular disease. In fact, say Israeli researchers, just one-half glass of pomegranate juice combined with three ground dates (and/or their pits) daily can significantly reduce one’s risk of heart disease. The desert dessert-fruit combo works especially well against the development of atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of most heart disease. In laboratory and animal studies, the combo reduced oxidative stress in arterial cell wall tissues by one-third, while lowering cholesterol levels by about 28%.

High cholesterol, and oxidative stress in the linings of blood vessels (the endothelium) has been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. Dates also inhibit the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol is known to play a key role in the development of atherosclerosis. Together, these activities are expected to reduce one’s risk of developing atherosclerosis.

So, what do you think? Are you willing to try a trendy new smoothie, made from fresh pomegranates and a few naturally sweet dates? If so, I’d love to hear what your comments.     

Kulkarni AP, Mahal HS, Kapoor S, Aradhya SM. In vitro studies on the binding, antioxidant, and cytotoxic actions of punicalagin. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Feb 21;55(4):1491-500. Epub 2007 Jan 23.

Mira Rosenblat, Nina Volkova, Hamutal Borochov-Neori, Sylvie Judeinstein, Michael Aviram. Anti-atherogenic properties of date vs. pomegranate polyphenols: the benefits of the combination. Food Funct., 2015; DOI: 10.1039/C4FO00998C

Seeram NP, Adams LS, et al. In vitro antiproliferative, apoptotic and antioxidant activities of punicalagin, ellagic acid and a total pomegranate tannin extract are enhanced in combination with other polyphenols as found in pomegranate juice. J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Jun;16(6):360-7.

 

Tags:  heart health, mediterranean diet
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