Pomegranates (Punica granatum) have been revered by cultures both ancient and modern, from the Mediterranean to India and China. They’re even mentioned in the Old Testament, as a featured decorative motif in the temple of King Solomon. Pomegranate trees were one of the first to be cultivated, dating back as far as 3,000 BC. Their popularity ensured their success, and soon they spread throughout the Middle East from their beginnings further north, probably near the Caucasus region along northern Turkey, Iraq, and Iran.
Although officially considered a berry, the large dark-red fruits of pomegranate are complex. Slice one open and you’ll see a host of smaller fleshy seeds called “arils” that are rich in pomegranate juice. They can be messy, but the fruits are worth it. They are delicious and provide high levels of vitamin C in addition to their already impressive levels of anthocyanins and catechins.
The fruit has become popular in recent years, especially as a juice ingredient, and with good reason. Clinical and scientific research shows this amazingly strong antioxidant supports the cardiovascular system, reduces inflammation, protects joint cartilage, and for individuals with diabetes, raises levels of glutathione (the body’s own natural antioxidant) by as much as 141%.
While pomegranate juice has become a huge hit, there is an easier, more convenient and more effective way to get the amazing power of pomegranate. It is a special combination extract of pomegranate fruit extract and seed oil, and it is the subject of this Terry Talks Nutrition®.
Omega-5 – Power from Seed Oil Extracts
Pomegranate juice has shown incredible health benefits. However, pomegranate juice is very high in calories and sugar and it is difficult to consume enough juice every day to have a truly therapeutic value. Along those lines, remember that it is only a juice of the pomegranate – not the entire fruit. If you’re only drinking the juice, you’re missing out on some of the most important compounds in the plant.
In fact, research shows that the best results come from the pomegranate fruit and seed oil – the only known botanical source of omega-5 fatty acid, also known as punicic acid.
Pomegranate and Breast Cancer
For women’s health – specifically breast cancer – omega-5 from pomegranate seed oil has emerged as a very strong natural therapeutic agent. It is a powerful tumor inhibitor. If you have a history of breast cancer in your family or have concerns about it yourself, the strong, omega-5 power of pomegranate seed oil is a must.
Omega-5 from pomegranate seed oil has the ability to inhibit both estrogen-sensitive and estrogen insensitive breast cancer cells. In fact, in a cellular study, it inhibited proliferation of two types of cancer cells by 92% and 96%, respectively. In that same study, omega-5 fatty acid (punicic acid) also supported apoptosis (cancer cell death) in two types of breast cancer cells, by 86% and 91%.
Omega-5 fatty acid from pomegranate has some of the same actions as tamoxifen – an anticancer drug – without the dangers and side effects. Tamoxifen, like many drugs, is risky. It can cause blood clots, endometrial cancer, early menopause, and causes a higher risk of cataracts.
One of the reasons for pomegranate seed oil’s anticancer activity, especially for breast tissue, is that it is an aromatase inhibitor. Aromatase is an enzyme that affects the body’s steroid metabolism. Imbalances have been linked to both breast and prostate cancer. In other research, pomegranate extracts – including seed oil extract – were found to inhibit aromatase activity by 60-80%. This study also found that pomegranate seed oil showed a 90% inhibition of MCF-7 breast cancer cells.
The researchers stated that pomegranate has excellent chemopreventive potential – either on its own, or as an addition to conventional therapy – meaning less dependence on dangerous drugs.
In a clinical study, men with increased levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) consumed 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily. PSA levels are used as a way of determining whether or not previous prostate cancer treatment has been effective. The faster the rise of PSA levels, the faster the progression of the cancer. Researchers look at how long it takes for the PSA levels to double as a way of checking the progress – or lack of progress – of the cancer. By the completion of the main phase of the study (2 years), PSA levels declined in 35% of the patients and 2 percent of the patients showed a 50% decline in PSA levels. The men who continued to drink pomegranate juice daily after the study continued to see lower PSA levels.
And, as I mentioned earlier, aromatase inhibition isn’t just important to preventing breast cancer – it may help prevent prostate cancer as well. While the studies with pomegranate juice have been positive, a seed oil extract and fruit extract combination would very likely be even more effective.
Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death for men in the United States after lung cancer, and having a natural fighter like this in your corner is too good of an opportunity to pass up.
Pomegranate seed oil has shown great hope for dealing with colon cancer as well. In laboratory studies, the nutrient-rich oil, including omega-5, reduced colon cancer activity by enhancing PPAR-gamma (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma), a protein that regulates cellular growth and COX-2. Interestingly, the oil was very effective even at low doses.
Pomegranate has also been shown to reduce the TNF-alpha induced COX-2 activation, so it is active through more than one pathway. By eliminating inflammatory activity in colon cells, the potential for DNA damage and possibility of tumor growth is reduced, too.
Strong Antioxidant Power
ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values are typically presented as a way of determining how much free-radical fighting power a given fruit or vegetable has. While there’s no way of duplicating the complex structure and synergy of a food, there are improved ways of taking some of the best components of fruits and vegetables and concentrating them to the point where you see extremely high ORAC values. Pomegranate extract has a very high ORAC value - 13,000 per gram - higher than many other fruits! Blueberries, for example, have an ORAC value of only 60 per gram.
Pomegranate’s free-radical fighting power is a must for keeping skin looking younger and more vibrant. Laboratory studies of pomegranate have been very positive, and show that it can protect against UV radiation and promote wound healing. It inhibits the carcinogens created by UV damage, so it’s very possible that pomegranate helps prevent skin cancer.
Free-radical damage stresses the immune system as well. The more stressed or inflamed our systems are, the less they can respond to threats. Since pomegranate is such a powerful antioxidant, it can help you avoid colds and flus as well.
Oxidative stress can also cause heart and artery damaging inflammation and lead to heart disease. Pomegranate has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol aggregation, lower blood pressure, and boost the activity of enzymes that protect LDL from oxidation.
Saving Joints and Cartilage
Pomegranate prevents damage to cartilage and joint structure and acts as an anti-inflammatory. In a laboratory study, pomegranate delayed the onset and reduced the incidence of collagen-induced arthritis, which is used as a model of rheumatoid arthritis.
In other research, pomegranate extract protected joints in two ways: it prevented inflammation to chondrocytes - the cells that make up cartilage - by inhibiting interleukin (IL-1β), a pro-inflammatory protein; and it inhibited a group of enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that can destroy cartilage between the joints in cases of osteoarthritis – usually induced by IL-1β.
By reducing inflammation, pomegranate preserves synovial fluid and cushioning cartilage, and may help stop the pain of rheumatoid arthritis by keeping these structures sound. These combined abilities of pomegranate make it much easier for someone to maintain an exercise regimen that reduces stress, retains flexibility and balance, and builds bone.
While avoiding illness is a priority in many households, the fact is, most conventional efforts aren’t very effective. However, pomegranate provides an excellent defense against bacteria. In fact, pomegranate extract could help fight E. coli bacteria quite well. In a study testing seven botanical extracts against E. coli, pomegranate showed the strongest activity.
Seed Oil and Fruit Extract for Complete Protection
The amazing thing about pomegranate seed oil and fruit extract is that it is so effective for so many health concerns. It really provides you with the most concentrated power of the botanical, and I recommend it to anyone.
Whether you are concerned about reducing the potential of cancer, shoring up your antioxidant defenses, heart function, and immune system, reducing inflammation, or simply supporting the millions of tasks your body must perform each day, a strong pomegranate seed oil, rich in omega-5 fatty acid, combined with fruit extract is a powerful choice – and the right one for your health.
To protect against cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more, take 600-1,200 mg of pomegranate seed oil and fruit extract daily.