- A supplement made from the fruit helps keep blood vessels healthy
- In doing so, it reduces the chance of heart attacks and strokes
- Pomegranate plant chemicals, called polyphenols, cancelled out the damage done by junk food in the cardiovascular systems of pigs
It is heartening news for those who can’t resist pigging out.
Pomegranates could reverse some of the damage done by junk food, research suggests.
A supplement made from the fruit helped keep blood vessels healthy, a key step in keeping heart attacks and strokes at bay.
In the first study of its kind, Spanish researchers looked at the effect of a pill packed with pomegranate plant chemicals called polyphenols on the circulation of pigs.
Pigs were chosen because their cardiovascular system is similar to ours.
Not surprisingly, feeding them fatty food damaged their blood vessels and, in particular, their delicate lining.
This lining, or endothelium, is important as it releases substances that control the expansion and contraction of blood vessels.
Damage to it can be a first step in atherosclerosis – the hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The blood vessels of the pigs fed fatty food were less elastic. The animals also made less nitric oxide, a blood vessel widening-gas and had other signs of heart problems.
However, a daily dose of Pomanex, a supplement with 200mg of polyphenols called punicalagins, cancelled out many of the effects, the Congress of the European Society of Cardiology heard.
Researcher Dr Lina Badimon, of the Catalan Institute for Cardiovascular Sciences in Spain, said: ‘Enriching a diet with pomegranate polyphenols can help in preventing and retarding endothelial dysfunctions, which are among the first signs of atherosclerosis and strokes.’
This is far from the first time that the pomegranate has made health headlines.
Previous research has credited pomegranate juice with lowering blood pressure – likely by reducing the amount of stress hormones made by the body.
In another study, a glass of pomegranate juice a day improved blood flow to the heart by more than a third in people whose arteries were clogged with cholesterol.
One of the oldest cultivated fruits, the pomegranate has been a symbol of fertility, death and eternity.
Some believe the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate rather than an apple.
The fruit pulp is the main ingredient of grenadine syrup, used for flavouring cocktails, soft drinks, hams and weeks