Pomegranate - The Mystic Fruit
|Figure Source: Biomed Research International, 2014.|
Pomegranate (Punica granatum), a fruit indigenous to the Middle East, has gained widespread popularity as a functional food and nutraceutical source. Pomegranate's botanical name, Punica Granatum, translates as "apple with many seeds". The health effects of the whole fruit, as well as its juices and extracts is gaining thrust due to its superior antioxidant property . Its usage has been cited in ancient Ayurveda, Ebers papyrus, Greek, Unani and Egyptian literatures. It has been used as a vermifuge, astringent, bacteriocide, refrigerant, stimulant, stomachic, styptic and to alleviate the adverse effect of bronchitis, cardiac problems, dysentery, diarrhea, fever, infalammation, bleeding disorders, ulcers, urinary tract infections and as a febrifuge .
Pomegranate fruit contains Gallic acid, Ellagic acid, Punicalin, Punnicalagin, Caffeic acid, Ellagi tannins, luteolin, Kaemferol and querccetin . They are also rich sources of vitamin C, potassium and fibre. The red gleaming fruits with seeds are called arils. They are full of delicious and nutricious juice. The white skin in between the arils, although bitter, are also rich sources of polyphenols.
- Pomegranate can be incorporated in a heart healthy diet as it diminishes atherosclerotic lesion and intima media thickness in cardiac patients. It also decreases lipid peroxidation in patients with type 2 diabetes, and systolic blood pressure and serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity in hypertensive patients .
- Type 2 diabetes, the debilitating disease has reached an epidemic state, globally and research has proved that the super food Pomegranate has low glycemic index which reduces the sharp increase in blood sugar. Inhibitors of intestinal a-glucosidase enzymes retard the rate of carbohydrate digestion, contributing to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia .
- Ellagic acid component have been reported to suppress various cancers, including prostate cancer,breast, colon and lung cancer. Ellagic acid seems to slow down the growth of cancer cells, reduces cell mobility. Investigations show a significant decrease in tumor size and tumor vessel density .
- Phytoestrogens in Punica are found to be much effective in treatment of premenopausal and menopausal symptoms . Daily intragastric administration of pomegranate juice was effective in decreasing serum contents of carbonyls and ox- LDL and protecting against blood mononuclear cell DNA damage.
- Chinese herbology mentions pomegranate juice as a longevity treatment because of its free radical scavenging activity.
- Pomegranate has phytochemicals and essential nutrients which boost memory, particularly short term memory. It is concluded that flavonoids in these juices may be responsible for memory enhancing effects .
- Alzheimers disease brains revealed elevated levels of oxidative stress markers which have been implicated in Aβ-induced toxicity. Multiple components present in pomegranate and various pomegranate preparations are known to exert pleiotropic protective effects as demonstrated in various in vitro and in vivo model systems .
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