Posted by Margie King
Pomegranate Reverses Hardening of the Arteries Naturally
Lots of foods claim to help reduce our risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. But pomegranate has been shown to go one step further.
That’s right. Pomegranate juice not only appears to prevent hardening of the arteries by reducing blood vessel damage, but the antioxidant-rich juice may actually reverse the disease.
Pomegranate juice reverses atherosclerosis
Hardening of the arteries is the common term for atherosclerosis. Plaque builds up in artery walls and can slow down blood flow, leading to heart attacks and stroke.
In a remarkable 2004 study published in Clinical Nutrition, Israeli scientists followed 19 patients whose carotid arteries were partially blocked by atherosclerosis.[i] The carotid arteries in the neck carry more than 80% of the blood flow to your brain, and any blockage in these vessels is a major risk factor for stroke.
Patients in the study who took a daily pomegranate juice supplement for one year, reduced the plaque blocking their arteries by up to 30%. Those who were not taking pomegranate juice supplements actually saw the lesions blocking their arteries grow by 9%.
That’s right. The researchers found that pomegranate reversed existing atherosclerosis, which continued to worsen in patients who did not take pomegranate juice.
Another study in 2005 from the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California examined the effects of pomegranate juice in patients who already had coronary heart disease or cardiac ischemia (insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle).[ii] In the study, which was published in the prestigious American Journal of Cardiology, 45 patients were randomly assigned to drink either eight ounces of pomegranate juice or a placebo beverage every day for three months.
At the beginning of the study, both groups showed the same amount of stress-induced ischemia. At the end of three months, however, the group that drank pomegranate juice saw a significant improvement in blood flow to their heart muscle. By contrast, stress-related ischemia worsened in the placebo group.
And here’s what’s really interesting. The researchers said that the improved blood flow could not be attributed to changes in weight, blood sugar, or cardiac medications. They found that the pomegranate juice alone made the difference.
Pomegranate Juice Reduces High Blood Pressure
In the 2004 Israeli study, researchers also found that pomegranate juice had the additional benefit of reducing systolic blood pressure by an impressive 12% after just one year.
The same Israeli scientists then tested pomegranate juice on patients who already had high blood pressure. They showed that drinking just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for only 2 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure by 5%.[iii]
Pomegranate Tops Other Juices for Antioxidant Power
Researchers believe pomegranate benefits heart health largely due to high levels of polyphenols (tannins, anthocyanins and punicalagins) that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
When pomegranate juice was compared to other antioxidant drinks like red wine, blueberry and grape juice, it far outperformed its competition.[iv]
And in the 2004 Israeli study showing a reversal of atherosclerosis, the patients taking pomegranate had more antioxidants circulating in their blood. In fact, pomegranate juice increased antioxidant activity in the blood by a whopping 130%.
Pomegranate Should be Part of Your Heart-Healthy Diet
These studies are exciting because they demonstrate that, even for people already suffering from heart disease, pomegranate offers important health benefits, including:
- preventing and reversing atherosclerosis,
- ensuring optimal blood flow to the heart, and
- supporting healthy blood pressure.
So persuasive is the case for pomegranates, that a team of scientists who reviewed all of the available research on the benefits of pomegranate juice advised that it would be prudent to include pomegranate as part of a heart-healthy diet.[v]
Pomegranate is the best safe and natural way to boost your heart’s health.
[i] Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):423-33.
[ii] Sumner MD, Elliott-Eller M, Weidner G, et al. Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol. 2005 Sep 15;96(6):810-4.
[iii] Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis. 2001 Sep;158(1):195-8.
[iv] Ignarro LJ, Byrns RE, Sumi D, de NF, Napoli C. Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances the biological actions of nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide. 2006 Sep;15(2):93-102.
[v] Basu A, Penugonda K., Pomegranate juice: a heart-healthy fruit juice. Nutr Rev. 2009 Jan;67(1):49-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2008.00133.x.