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[Potent Antioxidant | Studies

Punicalagin, The Super Polyphenol Antioxidant From Pomegranate For Super Heart And Vascular Health

Pomegranates: One of Nature's Most Potent Antioxidants

The pomegranate, with its distinctive scarlet rind (pericarp) and vibrantly colored seed cases (arils), is one
of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world. This exotic fruit features prominently in religious texts and mythological tales and has been revered through the ages for its medicinal properties. The fruit comes from a small, bush-like tree that is native to an area spanning Iran to the Himalayas in northern India, and has been cultivated extensively in the subtropical regions of Asia and Africa, as well as in California.

Pomegranate preparations contain a wealth of bioactive compounds. Aside from being a good source of vitamins (B1, B2, C and niacin) and minerals (particularly potassium), pomegranates are rich in anthocyanins and hydrolyzed tannins. The anthocyanins delphinidin, cyanidin, and pelargonidin are the polyphenolic flavonoid pigments responsible for the deep colors and antioxidant capabilities of blueberries, cranberries, and grapes.

Pomegranates are an especially potent source of the hydrolyzed tannins punicalagin, ellagic acid, and gallic acid. While these compounds are potent antioxidants in their own right, they have also been extensively studied for their properties supporting healthy cell maintenance. Numerous clinical studies of these three compounds have illustrated their detoxification ability, DNA protection, inhibition of lipid peroxidation, and liver protection. And while it may seem counterintuitive, commercially processed pomegranate preparations actually contain more of these beneficial polyphenols than fresh pomegranate seeds.


Several recent experimental and clinical studies suggest the therapeutic value of pomegranate preparations and derivatives, especially for the cardiovascular system.

In a clinical study of ten human subjects, pomegranate juice polyphenols lowered the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) by 36%. ACE inhibition has been postulated to improve cardiovascular health by a number of mechanisms, including the inhibition of platelet aggregation and reduction of lipid peroxidation. In laboratory studies of human endothelial cells, pomegranate flavonoids increased the production of prostacyclin, a potent vasodialator, and inhibitor of platelet aggregation and cell adhesion.

Laboratory studies of pomegranate juice and seed extracts showed that they are inhibitors of lipoxygenase, the enzyme that catalyses the formation of leukotrienes and may play a role in arterial plaque formation, and inflammation.

A two-week study of healthy male volunteers consuming pomegranate juice demonstrated a significant reduction of low density lipoprotein (LDL) aggregation and retention. In the same study, pomegranate juice increased the activity of paraoxonase, an enzyme that may protect against lipid oxidative damage. Similar results were seen in a mouse model, with pomegranate tannins increasing the cellular release of cholesterol by 39% (the cholesterol could be disposed of as it was not longer being stored) and lowering LDL oxidation by 31%.

In laboratory tests of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC; a standard for antioxidant capacity established by the FDA), fresh pomegranate fruit and juice preparations surpassed the antioxidant activities of green tea, red wine, cranberry, blueberry, and grape juices, all of which have been venerated for their free-radical defensive properties.

Pomegranate polyphenols have been shown in the laboratory to reduce the frequency of inaccurate cell replication. They have been shown to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and the formation of the new blood vessels (angiogenesis), which supports healthy cell replication.


  1. Chen, P. S., Li, J. H., Liu, T Y. & Lin, T C. (2000). Folk medicine Terminalia catappa and its major tannin component, punicalagin, are effective against bleomycininduced genotoxicity in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Cancer Lett 152, 115-22.
  2. Aviram, M., Dornfeld, L., Rosenblat, M., Volkova, N., Kaplan, M., Coleman, R., Hayek, T, Presser, D. & Fuhrman, B. (2000). Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am J Clin Nutr 71, 1062-76.
  3. Aviram, M. 8 Dornfeld, L. (2001). Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis 158, 195-8.
  4. Lin, C. C., Hsu, Y. E, Lin, T. C. & Hsu, H. Y. (2001). Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects of punicalagin and punicalin on acetaminophen-induced liver damage in rats. Phytother Res 15, 206-12.
  5. Chidambara Murthy, K. N., Jayaprakasha, G. K. 8 Singh, R. P. (2002). Studies on antioxidant activity of pomegranate (Punica granatum) peel extract using in vivo models. J Agric Food Chem 50, 4791-5.
  6. Gil, M. L, Tomas-Barberan, F A., Hess-Pierce, B., Holcroft, D. M. 8 Kader, A. A. (2000). Antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice and its relationship with phenolic composition and processing. J Agric Food Chem 48, 4581-9.
  7. Polagruto, J. A., Schramm, D. D., Wang-Polagruto, J. F, Lee, L. & Keen, C. L. (2003). Effects of flavonoid-rich beverages on prostacyclin synthesis in humans and human aortic endothelial cells: association with ex vivo platelet function. J Med Food 6, 301-8.
  8. Schubert, S. Y., Lansky, E. P & Neeman, I. (1999). Antioxidant and eicosanoid enzyme inhibition properties of pomegranate seed oil and fermented juice flavonoids. J Ethnopharmacol 66, 11-7.
  9. Kaplan, M., Hayek, T, Paz, A., Coleman, R., Dornfeld, L., Vaya, J. & Aviram,
    M. (2001). Pomegranate juice supplementation to atherosclerotic mice reduces macrophage lipid peroxidation, cellular cholesterol accumulation and development of atherosclerosis. J Nut, 131, 2082-9.

Reprinted with exclusive permission from Jarrow Formulas. 

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