Closeup sliced pomegranate on white plate

Pomegranate juice is one of the most popular health foods. It’s found in scores of beverages today, although scientists have long known about its benefits. The fruit has been used as a folk medicine in many cultures for centuries. So is the marketing hype surrounding pomegranate juice deserved? Ample research suggests the answer is yes.

Pomegranate juice is rich in substances called antioxidants that work in the body to destroy free radicals, molecules that damage cells. That’s why the fruit is sometimes consumed as part of an anti-aging strategy.

The juice also has substances that fight heart disease and reduce blood pressure. The juice appears to help increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and acts as a natural blood-thinner. The authors of one scientific paper called it a “convincingly heart-healthy fruit.”

The juice is high in vitamin C and helps soothe digestion. Some studies have linked it to suppression of prostate cancer. And, in a study published recently in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, scientists found evidence that it may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other types of dementia. Researchers identified a substance found in the fruit, called punicalagin, that curbs inflammation in brain cells that leads to their destruction.

The downside of drinking pomegranate juice is that it can be expensive. Moreover, some “pomegranate” drinks are blended with additional sugar or substances like corn syrup that add calories and dilute the pomegranate juice. Although more expensive, the authors of the new study suggests purchasing juice products with 100 percent pomegranate.

References

National Institutes of Health – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/392.html | http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21457902 | Complimentary Therapies in Clinical Practice – 2011 May;17(2):113-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2010.09.004 | Molecular Nutrition & Food Research – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=pomegranate+and+olajide

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