The Health Benefits of Pomegranate Supplements

Pomegranate is a fruit that is made up of a hard outer layer with around 600 arils, which contain the edible part of the fruit, the seeds. It is full of antioxidants, which protect cells from oxidative damage due to natural biochemical processes and everyday exposure to environmental toxins. They can also help prevent and repair DNA damage that can lead to cancer, and research has found that pomegranate juice may even benefit prostate and heart health.

Pomegranate as a supplement comes in many forms, including capsules, gummies, powder, and juice that contain pomegranate extract sourced from the seed, juice, peel, leaf, and flower. 

pomegranate

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Health Benefits

Abundant in polyphenols, pomegranates offer many health benefits because of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of these micronutrients. Pomegranate supplements may help treat risk factors for many diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, and inflammation. 

Inflammation

All pomegranate flavonoids show antioxidant activity with indirect inhibition of inflammatory markers such as tumor necrosis factor. In a review of several animal or cell culture studies, researchers found that pomegranate juice or its extract positively affected rheumatoid arthritis. However, more research is needed to support this benefit in humans.

Blood Pressure

Pomegranate juice is said to prevent the activity of serum angiotensin-converting enzyme, which may help reduce systolic blood pressure. Some studies indicated that pomegranate juice reduces blood pressure in hypertensive and normotensive populations. Yet, another study showed that three months of pomegranate juice supplementation did not significantly affect blood pressure in patients with coronary heart disease.  

Heart Health

The antioxidants in pomegranate juice may help keep cholesterol in a form that is less damaging and also may reduce plaque that has built up in vessels, according to some research.

In a study of healthy men, researchers from Israel concluded that pomegranate juice decreases the likelihood of LDL, the cholesterol that forms plaque, and that it improves HDL, the good cholesterol. Another study showed a decrease in the development of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the walls of arteries) in mice whose diets were supplemented with pomegranate juice.

Bacteria and Fungus

Pomegranates have been used to treat infections for a long time. In Ayurvedic medicine, pomegranate extracts, the rind of the fruit, and the bark of the tree were used to treat dysentery and diarrhea.

Small studies have looked at the antibacterial effects of pomegranate on several drug-resistant bacterial strains. In one study conducted with guinea pigs, an ointment prepared with pomegranate peel was applied to their wounds for 12 days and significantly improved wound healing by increasing collagen, DNA, and protein synthesis. The extract exhibited significant antibacterial activity against wound bacteria.

In another study with 35 Wistar rats with oral candidiasis, a fungus that accumulates in the lining of the mouth, the rats were treated with three different concentrations of pomegranate peel extract and nystatin. Regardless of the pomegranate peel extract’s concentration, researchers observed a marked improvement after 15 days of treatment with no adverse side effects.

Blood Flow

According to several studies, dietary nitrate can positively affect blood flow and exercise performance. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study with 19 men and women examined how pomegranate extract could affect blood flow, vessel diameter, and exercise performance. The participants had a mean age of 22 and were randomly assigned to placebo or pomegranate extract.

Blood flow increased in the participants who took the pomegranate extract compared with those who took the placebo. In addition, vessel diameter was notably larger in the pomegranate extract group. The researchers found that taking pomegranate extract 30 minutes prior to exercise may enhance vessel diameter, blood flow, and delay fatigue during exercise.

Side Effects

In general, pomegranate supplementation doesn’t appear to have any adverse side effects, but some individuals may have gastrointestinal sensitivities that may lead to diarrhea. Overall, pomegranate juice is considered safe, as is pomegranate extract. However, when ingested in large portions, pomegranate root, stem, and leaf may not be safe. 

There is little evidence on whether drinking pomegranate juice or ingesting pomegranate extract is harmful during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Check with your doctor before starting any pomegranate supplement to ensure that it’s safe for you to use.

Dosage and Preparation

While pomegranate in its natural state is a good source of vitamins C and K as well as potassium and punicalagins (antioxidant phytochemicals), pomegranate supplements contain other ingredients that vary from brand to brand.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends the following daily values: 

  • Vitamin C: 90 mg
  • Vitamin K: 120 mcg 
  • Potassium: 4700 mcg 

You may need to consume more or less of a certain food, beverage, or supplement to meet the recommended daily values.

What to Look For

When examining supplement labels, you may see that one type of pomegranate supplement may include a certain percentage of the extract along with a blend of the flower, seed oil, and a percentage of punicic acid. Other ingredients that may be in a gel tablet or capsule may include sunflower oil, glycerin, gelatin, beeswax, and sunflower lecithin. Some brands may have added blueberry and cranberry extract and ellagic acid (another antioxidant phytochemical found in pomegranates and other fruits and vegetables). 

Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, a dietary ingredient is defined as a vitamin, mineral, herb or other botanical, or amino acid dietary substance to supplement your diet by increasing the total dietary intake. But unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to be used to treat, prevent, or cure diseases.

What Medications Does Pomegranate Interact With?

While some juices, like grapefruit juice, can interact with drugs such as those prescribed to treat cholesterol, it’s unclear what the risks are with pomegranate and certain medications.

In a study of liver cells, pomegranate juice hindered cytochrome P450 3A, an enzyme key to drug metabolism. Further, the American Heart Association warns that statin-based cholesterol medications and pomegranate can be a dangerous mix.

If you’re concerned about any prescription medication that may interact with a pomegranate supplement or juice, it’s best to ask your doctor whether you may have to eliminate it. 

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