According to a recent study, pomegranate extract may prevent—and even reverse!—the progressive thickening of coronary arteries known as atherosclerosis, which invariably leads to heart disease. Pomegranate seeds and juice are rich in heart-healthy antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenol antioxidants—which are found in red wine, grapes, blueberries, soy milk, dark chocolate, tea and of course pomegranate—are known to lower levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, protect blood vessels and lower blood pressure (BP).
In the present study, mice with a genetic susceptibility toward spontaneous coronary artery blockages were given pomegranate extract in their drinking water for two weeks. The treatment reduced the size of atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta, while also decreasing the overall proportion of coronary arteries with atherosclerotic plaque.
Remarkably, pomegranate extract treatment also had the following beneficial effects in these mice:
Lowered levels of oxidative stress
Reduced levels of chemical messengers associated with inflammatory processes in the arteries
Less lipid accumulation in heart muscle
Reduced cardiac enlargement
Normalization of electrocardiogram (ECG) abnormalities
This study adds to already existing clinical research confirming that pomegranates can help unclog arteries.
For instance, the results of a three-year clinical trial published in 2004 showed that daily consumption of pomegranate juice reversed carotid artery stenosis by up to 29% within one year. Remarkably, blockages in the control group increased by 9% during the same period, indicating that pomegranate's artery unblocking effects were even greater than first believed.
Pomegranate's protective value in cardiovascular disease is likely because of the following experimentally confirmed properties:
Anti-inflammatory - like many other chronic degenerative diseases, inflammation plays a significant role in cardiovascular disease.
BP lowering - pomegranate juice is a natural blocker of angiotensin converting enzyme and enhances the activities of nitric oxide, both well-known pathways for reducing BP.
Anti-infective - plaque buildup in the arteries is often associated with viral and bacterial infections, including hepatitis C and chlamydia. Pomegranate is known to have a broad range of anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
Antioxidant - blood lipids become heart disease-promoting through oxidation. LDL, for instance, is harmless as long as it does not get oxidized and pomegranate reduces oxidative stress in blood. One study in mice found that this decrease in oxidative stress was associated with a 44% reduction in the size of atherosclerotic lesions.
Pomegranates are just one of the healthiest fruits provided by Mother Nature. Enjoy a glass of pomegranate juice regularly, or check out the powerful superfruit supplements available for a mix of life-giving all-natural phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
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