Dozens of Studies on Pomegranate’s Strong Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Dozens of recent studies reveal the pomegranate’s
surprising array of benefits. Pomegranates contain
powerful antioxidants that appear to inhibit the
onset of atherosclerosis, reduce the risk of heart
disease, and mediate high blood pressure.

Pomegranate extract also has demonstrated
anticarcinogenic properties that are effective in
suppressing a variety of cancers, including skin,
breast, and colon cancers. The pomegranate has
even shown effectiveness in alleviating depression
in a mouse model of menopause.

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a hardy,
long-lived subtropical shrub originating in
semi-arid regions of Asia.1,2,3

It has been cultivated and naturalized over
the whole of the Mediter-ranean region since
ancient times. Pomegranates are mentioned in
Egyptian papyrus scrolls dating back to 1550 BC,
and pomegranate branches form part of the
decorative motif on the pillars of King
Solomon’s temple.

Spanish settlers introduced pomegranates to
California in 1769.2 In the US today, they are
typically cultivated in the drier parts of
California and Arizona.

Buffering Free Radicals or Hydrogen Ions

Free radicals–the oxygen-reactive byproducts of
normal cellular metabolism that attack healthy
cells–have been implicated in the acceleration
of the body’s natural aging processes. Free
radicals can also be formed by external
environmental factors such as cigarette smoke
and other forms of air pollution.4

Damage by unchecked free-radical compounds can
manifest as serious illnesses; for example, cancer
is now known to be associated with free-radical
damage to healthy cellular DNA.

More than a decade ago, pomegranate peel extracts
were shown to possess significant antioxidant
activity in various in-vitro models.4

An extract of pomegranate peel was fed to rats,
which were then exposed to carbon tetrachloride,
a toxic chemical. The pretreatment with pomegranate
extract protected levels of the antioxidant enzymes
catalase, peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase in
the rats. The pomegranate extract also helped to
protect the rats’ livers from the toxic effects
of carbon tetrachloride.5

Another more recent study focused on the
antioxidant effectiveness of plant pigments
called bioflavonoids, commonly found in berries,
cherries, grapes, and citrus. Pomegranate juice
was found to exhibit three times more antioxidant
activity than red wine or green tea.6 The active
constituent that appears to be responsible is
ellagic acid, a naturally occurring polyphenolic
compound in pomegranates.

Unclogging Arteries

Numerous studies of atherosclerosis suggest that
the disease is at least partly caused by
free-radical reactions involving diet-derived
lipids that induce harmful changes in the
arterial walls.7

A recent study by the Lipid Research Laboratory
in Haifa, Israel, explored dietary supplementation
with polyphenolic antioxidants in animals. The
researchers noted that pomegranate juice was
associated with the inhibition of low-density
lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and with slowing
the development of atherosclerosis.8

The Israeli researchers further ascertained the effects
of pomegranate juice consumption by atherosclerotic
patients with carotid artery stenosis (a narrowing
of the carotid artery walls). Ten patients
supplemented with the juice for one year.

In the pomegranate-supplemented group, carotid
intima-media thickness, an indicator of
atherosclerosis progression, was reduced by up to
30%. By contrast, in a control group that did not
consume pomegranate juice, carotid intima-media
thickness increased by 9% over 12 months. Moreover,
in the pomegranate-supplemented patients, serum LDL
levels were also significantly reduced while serum
total antioxidant status increased by 130% after
one year.9

Reducing Hypertension

Hypertension (high blood pressure) affects an
estimated 50 million Americans and augments the
risk for stroke, heart disease, peripheral
vascular disease, and kidney disease.

Pomegranates may be of benefit in modulating this
often silent yet potentially lethal risk factor
for heart disease.

In the Israeli study, systolic blood pressure was
reduced by 21% after one year of pomegranate juice
consumption.10 This effect is believed to be related
to the particularly potent antioxidant properties
of pomegranate polyphenols.

A similar study at the same research facility
examined consumption of pomegranate juice to
ascertain its effectiveness in lowering blood

Researchers studied the effect on hypertensive
patients of daily consumption of 50 ml of
pomegranate juice. After two weeks, a 5% reduction in
systolic blood pressure was noted, along with a
36% decrease in serum angiotensin converting enzyme
(ACE) activity.11

Reduc-tion in serum ACE activity has previously
been shown to attenuate atherosclerosis, independent
of its effects on blood pressure. The study authors
concluded, “Pomegranate juice can offer wide protection
against cardiovascular diseases, which could be related
to its inhibitory effect on oxidative stress and on
serum ACE activity.”

Improving Lipid Profiles

A recent Iranian study examined the effects of
concentrated pomegranate juice on lipid profiles of
type II diabetes patients with elevated blood lipids,
or hyperlipidemia. The patients supplemented with
pomegranate juice for eight weeks. The study
participants saw significant reductions in their
total cholesterol, LDL, LDL:HDL (high-density
lipoprotein) ratio, and total cholesterol:HDL ratio.
Serum HDL and triglycerides did not change

The study authors concluded that consumption of
concentrated pomegranate extract may modify
heart-disease risk factors in patients with high

Further research is needed to determine whether
pomegranate helps lower blood lipid levels in
non-diabetic individuals.

Anti-Tumor-Promoting Effects

In recent years, chemoprevention has received as much
attention as chemotherapy in the fight against cancer.
The search for new ways to stop cancer before its onset
has led investigators to examine a wide variety of
natural agents.

A recent study at the University of Wisconsin argues
that agents capable of intervening at more than one
critical pathway in the process of carcinogenesis
“will have greater advantage over other
single-target agents.”13

The Wisconsin researchers found that pomegranate
fruit extract possesses strong antioxidant
and anti-inflammatory properties.

The extract was evaluated for anti-tumor-promoting
effects, specifically involving topical application
against skin tumors. The researchers concluded that
animals pretreated with pomegranate fruit extract
showed 70% less tumor incidence compared to animals
that did not receive it. The study authors believe
that their results provide “clear evidence that
possesses anti-skin-tumor-promoting effects,” and
may possess chemopreventive activity “in a wide range
of tumor models.”14

These findings support the promising results of a pair
of 2003 studies in South Dakota and Japan that
explored pomegranate seed oil as a safe and effective
agent against skin cancer and colon cancer tumors,

In a 2002 study, pomegranate seed oil (CLA) inhibited
the proliferation of human breast cancer cells up to
90%, while fermented pomegranate juice polyphenols
inhibited 47% of cancerous lesion formation in mammary
gland cells from mice.15 Ellagic acid, a polyphenol
derived from pomegranate, has been identified to have
potent antioxidant, anti-cancer, and
anti-atherosclerotic properties.17

No Known Toxicity

A variety of recent studies have demonstrated that
pomegranate, in various forms, can be included as
part of a healthy lifestyle with no risk of toxic
reactions. A Cuban study, for example, found that
two doses of pomegranate extract (0.4 and 1.2 mg per
kilogram of body weight, respectively) given to rats
produced no toxic effects in terms of food intake,
weight gain, or behavioral or biochemical factors.17

Another study took these results further, examining
still higher doses of pomegranate extract administered
orally to rats for 37 days.18 No significant differences
in toxicity were found in the treated rats in any of the
blood parameters analyzed, a finding corroborated by
analyses of both the liver and kidney.

Adding the benefits of pomegranate to the diet has
presented something of a challenge. The fruit itself
is messy and rather difficult to prepare due to its
large number of seeds. Prepackaged pomegranate juice,
either pure or in concentrate, remains relatively
scarce in Western supermarkets and health food stores
and most of it is loaded with added sugars.

Encapsulated or powdered forms of pomegranate extract
and oils (CLA) are becoming much more widely available,
making it easier to control the daily dosage.


The pomegranate, an ancient alkalizing fruit
whose regenerative properties have been celebrated
for thousands of years, has come under growing scrutiny
by medical researchers seeking natural agents for
the prevention and treatment of degenerative diseases.

In numerous recent experiments, pomegranates have been
shown to contain powerful antioxidant compounds that
scientists believe may inhibit atherosclerosis, cut the
risk of heart disease, and help to modulate high blood pressure.

Pomegranate seed oil (CLA) also has
demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties
that appear to suppress skin, breast, colon,
and other cancers.

These varied and very promising disease-promoting
effects are likely to make the pomegranate the focus
of modern medical research for some time to come.

For more information on pomegranate or pomegranate
seed oil (CLA) or to order Young pHorever
Pomegranate Seed Oil (CLA) go to: or


1. New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology.
London: Hamly; 1983.

2. Brown D. Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses.
London: Dorling Kindersley; 1995.

3. Morton J. Fruits of warm climates.
Creative Resource Systems, Inc.; 1987:352-5.

4. Butterfield HM. A history of subtropical fruits
and nuts in California. University of California,
Agricultural Experiment Station. 1963.

5. Langseth L. Oxidants, antioxidants and disease
prevention. International Life Science Institute,
Belgium; 1996.

6. Chidambara Murthy KN, Jayaprakasha GK, Singh RP.
Studies on antioxidant activity of pomegranate
(Punica granatum) peel extract using in vivo models.
J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Aug 14;50(17):4791-5.

7. Gil MI, Tomas-Barberan FA, Hess-Pierce B, Holcroft
DM, Kader AA. Antioxidant activitiy of pomegranate
juice and its relationship with phenolic composition
and processing. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Oct;48(10):

8. Harman D. Role of free radicals in aging and
disease. Ann NY Acad Sci. 1992 Dec 26; 673:126-41.

9. Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, 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. Clin Nutr. 2004

10. Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomegranate juice
consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting
enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood
pressure. Atherosclerosis. 2001

11. Esmaillzadeh A, Tahbaz F, Gaieni I,
Alavi- Majd H, Azadbakht L. Concentrated
pomegranate juice improves lipid profiles in
diabetic patients with hyperlipi- demia. J Med Food.
2004 Fall;7(3):305-8.

12. Afaq F, Saleem M, Krueger CG, Reed JD,
Mukhtar H. Anthocyanin-and hydrolyzable
tannin-rich pomegranate fruit extract modulates
MAPK and NF-kappaB path- ways and inhibits skin
tumorigenesis in CD-1 mice. Int J Cancer. 2004
Sep 28.

13. Hora JJ, Maydew ER, Lansky EP, Dwivedi C.
Chemopreventive effects of pomegranate seed oil
on skin tumor development in CD1 mice. J Med Food.
2003 Fall;6(3):157- 61.

14. Kohno H, Suzuki R, Yasui Y, Hosokawa M,
Miyashita K, Tanaka T. Pomegranate seed oil
rich in conjugated linolenic acid suppresses
chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in
rats. Cancer Sci. 2004 Jun;95(6):481-6.

15. Kim ND, Mehta R, Yu W, et al. Chemopreventive
and adjuvant therapeutic potential of pomegranate
(Punica granatum) for human breast cancer. Breast
Cancer Res Treat. 2002 Feb;71(3):203-17.

16. Seeram NP, Lee R, Heber D. Bioavailability of
ellagic acid in human plasma after consumption of
ellagitannins from pomegranate (Punica granatum L.)
juice. Clin Chim Acta. 2004 Oct;348(1- 2):63-8.

17. Vidal A, Fallarero A, Pena BR, Medina ME et al.
Studies on the toxicity of Punica granatum L.
(Punicaceae) whole fruit extracts. J Ethnopharmacol.
2003 Dec;89(2-3):295-300.

18. Cerda B, Ceron JJ, Tomas-Barberan FA, Espin JC.
Repeated oral administration of high doses of the
pomegranate ellagitannin punicalagin to rats for 37
days is not toxic. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 May.

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