(NaturalHealth365) The list of advantages in consuming foods rich in antioxidants continues to grow. But scientists have evidence that one of these antioxidant-rich foods – pomegranate – may not only reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, but actually reverse plaque buildup in the arterial walls.
This is critical news not only for consumers, but for scientists whose previous study findings suggested only that antioxidants could reduce plaque buildup, not that the benefits of pomegranate could extend to actually reversing damage.
Results of an Israeli study show that pomegranate very likely reduces existing plaque buildup in the arteries and doesn’t just slow its development.
Israeli scientists studied patients known to exhibit narrowing of their carotid arteries due to atherosclerosis. The research focused on the carotid artery, found in the neck, because it is behind approximately 80 percent of the body’s blood flow to the brain.
Surprising healing power of pomegranate juice
When a portion of these patients were provided with pomegranate juice supplements over the course of a year, the incidence of atherosclerotic lesions in the common carotid artery were reduced in size by 35 percent. This is in stark contrast to patients in the control group, whose atherosclerotic lesions increased by 9 percent.
A blood analysis conducted on the group receiving the pomegranate juice showed an increase in antioxidant activity of 130 percent compared with levels prior to the study’s start. These patients also saw an average drop in systolic blood pressure of 21 percent following one year of pomegranate juice consumption.
Pomegranate also safeguards low-density lipoprotein from harmful oxidation and has been shown to lower blood pressure. The researchers concluded that supplementing with just 2 ounces of pomegranate juice every day resulted in this reduction in blood pressure because the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme was reduced.
By the way, many of the medications used to treat high blood pressure work in much the same way, raising the strong possibility that supplementing a diet with pomegranate juice on a consistent basis could help patients avoid prescription drugs – and the unwanted side effects of toxic medications.
Science continues to show that drinking pomegranate juice reduces heart disease risk
These findings are significant since an estimated 71 million Americans suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease, including not only high blood pressure, but also coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke.
Since the original work published in 2007, researchers continue to investigate the impact of pomegranate on preventing heart disease.
For example, in 2013, Professor Michael Aviram and his team at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Medical Faculty and Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center published their findings in the Journal of Atherosclerosis showing that patients taking statin pills to decrease cholesterol levels should supplement with pomegranate juice or concentrate to markedly reduce heart disease risk.
Does pomegranate actually help to prevent cancer? The answer is yes!
In addition to its remarkable ability to protect your heart, pomegranate also appears to combat several of the more common forms of cancer, including prostate cancer. It works by hampering the progression of cancer cells, due to ellagitannins – the very substances that give the fruit its color.
University of Wisconsin researchers found that pomegranate extract blocked the growth of human prostate cancer cells while also enhancing apoptosis, programmed cancer cell death.
In a one-two punch scenario, the scientists concluded that pomegranate supports expression of a protein known to accelerate cancer cell death while hampering expression of a different protein that gets in the way of cancer cell death. Similar study results were seen by the same researchers in a study involving mice, leading the scientists to believe similar results could likely be seen in humans.
A similar study at the University of California at Los Angeles showed dramatic results, with a 12 percent decrease in cancer cell growth and a 17 percent increase in cancer cell death. The study involved prostate cancer patients provided with eight ounces of pomegranate juice on a daily basis.