Health Benefits Of Pomegranates For Your Heart

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Pomegranates For Heart

Much research has shown that just a daily half-glass (8-12 oz) of pomegranate juice could help boost your heart health. The fruit has potent antioxidants that can slow down the rate of atherosclerosis (build-up of fatty substances in the arteries), and lower blood pressure, cholesterol, thus significantly reducing your risk of heart attack or stroke.

Pomegranates have historically been prized in many cultures across the world. They appear in paintings on Egyptian tombs, in Greek mythology, and are even said to have been present in the Garden of Eden. The ruby red pomegranate has also been traditionally used for medicinal purposes in many cultures. An 8 oz serving of pomegranate juice will give you about 150 calories. It is a good source of vitamin K, potassium and folate and also contains vitamins B6, E, and pantothenic acid. Pomegranates are rich in plant chemicals (polyphenols like flavonoids and tannins) which give it potent antioxidant properties and can benefit your health in many ways. 1 Let’s take a look at what these amazing fruits can do for your heart.

The Heart Benefits Of Pomegranates

Pomegranates can promote the health of your heart in many ways:

Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can damage your arteries which may become blocked leading to heart attacks or strokes.2 It can also raise your risk of developing heart failure (where the heart can’t pump sufficient blood) by two to three times. If your blood pressure is too high then the heart has to work harder to circulate blood. This higher workload can take a toll and make the chambers of your heart weaker and larger (cardiomegaly) which can cause heart failure. 3 But pomegranate can help you deal with this dangerous condition. According to a study people with high blood pressure who had a glass of pomegranate juice (150ml/day) between lunch and dinner for two weeks experienced a significant reduction in blood pressure. 4

Fights Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a condition where your arteries become narrower and hardened because plaque (which is made of cholesterol, cellular wastes, other fats etc) gets deposited inside the arteries. This can result in a heart attack or stroke if a part of the plaque breaks off or a blood clot forms on the plaque and blocks an artery. 5 Pomegranate juice may be effective against this condition. However pomegranate juice can reduce the thickness of arteries as well as the size of atherosclerotic lesions. One study found that when people with atherosclerosis consumed pomegranate juice for a year it reduced common carotid intima-media thickness (the thickness of the inner two layers of the carotid artery) by up to 30% whereas people in the control group who did not consume pomegranate juice experienced an increase of 9% during the same period. Researchers have suggested that this could be due to the potent antioxidant properties of polyphenols found in pomegranate. 6 In another study, when mice with advanced atherosclerosis were given pomegranate juice daily (in an amount approximately equivalent to one 8 Oz glass per day for a human) for 2 months, it was found that their atherosclerotic lesion size reduced by 17%, in comparison to mice which were given a placebo. The researchers observed that a tannin-fraction isolated from the juice showed antiatherosclerotic activity.7

Improves Blood Flow To The Heart

People with coronary heart disease (also known as ischemic heart disease) have narrow arteries and this reduces the supply of blood and therefore oxygen (which is carried by blood) to the heart muscle. 8 But one study found that when patients with ischemic coronary heart disease were given 240 ml of pomegranate juice a day for three months it lowered stress-induced ischemia (the restriction of blood flow) in them. Meanwhile, after the same period the control group which did not have pomegranate juice experienced an increase in stress-induced ischemia.9

Lowers Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for heart disease. When low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL, which is the bad kind) circulates in your blood, it can build up in the walls of your arteries and form plaque. However, pomegranate juice can help to reduce cholesterol levels. One study looked at patients with diabetes and hyperlipidemia (a condition where you have high levels of fat in the blood) who consumed 40 g of concentrated pomegranate juice for eight weeks. It was found that their LDL and total cholesterol levels reduced significantly while their high density lipoprotein cholesterol (the good kind which can help control LDL levels) levels were not impacted. 10

Has Antioxidant Effects

Scientists have known for a while now that oxidized LDL plays a key role in heart disease. Oxidation of LDL has many effects like the uptake of inflammatory cells and alterations in macrophages ( a kind of white blood cell) which lead to the formation of foam cells (macrophages which are filled with cholesterol and form plaque).11 But the potent antioxidants present in pomegranate juice have been found to work against LDL oxidation. One study found that consuming pomegranate juice reduced the tendency of LDL to aggregate and increased the activity of an enzyme that can protect against lipid peroxidation (serum paraoxonase) by 20%. 12

How Much Should You Have?

Having 8 to 12 oz. of pomegranate juice a day as part of a healthy diet is considered safe.13 However, some research indicates that your heart can benefit from drinking just two ounces of pomegranate juice per day. But before you chomp down this delicious supporter of your heart remember that pomegranate can interfere with medications that lower cholesterol and blood pressure and also affect the way blood thinners work. 14 So be sure to check in with your doctor if you’re on prescription meds for any of these conditions.

References   [ + ]

1, 14. Pomegranate Health Benefits. University of Florida.
2. Health Threats From High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association.
3. Causes of Heart Failure. American Heart Association.
4. Asgary, Sedigheh, Amirhossein Sahebkar, Mohammad Reza Afshani, Mahtab Keshvari, Shaghayegh Haghjooyjavanmard, and Mahmoud Rafieian‐Kopaei. “Clinical Evaluation of Blood Pressure Lowering, Endothelial Function Improving, Hypolipidemic and Anti‐Inflammatory Effects of Pomegranate Juice in Hypertensive Subjects.” Phytotherapy Research 28, no. 2 (2014): 193-199.
5. Atherosclerosis. American Heart Association.
6. Aviram, Michael, Mira Rosenblat, Diana Gaitini, Samy Nitecki, Aaron Hoffman, Leslie Dornfeld, Nina Volkova 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.” Clinical Nutrition 23, no. 3 (2004): 423-433.
7. Kaplan, Marielle, Tony Hayek, Ayelet Raz, Raymond Coleman, Leslie Dornfeld, Jacob Vaya, and Michael Aviram. “Pomegranate juice supplementation to atherosclerotic mice reduces macrophage lipid peroxidation, cellular cholesterol accumulation and development of atherosclerosis.” The Journal of nutrition 131, no. 8 (2001): 2082-2089.
8. Silent Ischemia and Ischemic Heart Disease. American Heart Association.
9. Sumner, Michael D., Melanie Elliott-Eller, Gerdi Weidner, Jennifer J. Daubenmier, Mailine H. Chew, Ruth Marlin, Caren J. Raisin, and Dean Ornish. “Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease.” The American journal of cardiology 96, no. 6 (2005): 810-814.
10. Esmaillzadeh, Ahmad, Farideh Tahbaz, Iraj Gaieni, Hamid Alavi-Majd, and Leila Azadbakht. “Cholesterol-lowering effect of concentrated pomegranate juice consumption in type II diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia.” International journal for vitamin and nutrition research 76, no. 3 (2006): 147-151.
11. Antioxidant Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: Emphasis on Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and β-Carotene. American Heart Association.
12. Aviram, Michael, Leslie Dornfeld, Mira Rosenblat, Nina Volkova, Marielle Kaplan, Raymond Coleman, Tony Hayek, Dita Presser, and Bianca Fuhrman. “Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E–deficient mice.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 71, no. 5 (2000): 1062-1076.
13. Pomegranate. University of Maryland Medical Center.