Pomegranate Found toPrevent Progression of Coronary Artery Disease
A study published in the journal Atherosclerosis confirms that pomegranate extract may prevent and/or reverse amajorpathology associated with cardiac mortality: progressive thickening of coronary arteries caused by the accumulation of fatty substancesknown as atherosclerosisi].
Mice geneticallysusceptibletospontaneous coronary artery occlusionwere fedpomegranate extract throughdrinking water for 3weeksto2weeks afterbirth. Pomegranateadministrationreduced the size of atherosclerotic plaques in the aortic sinus (the dilated opening above the aortic valve) and the percentageof coronary arteries with occlusive atherosclerotic plaques, even though it actually increased cholesterol levels associated with very low-density lipoprotein-sized particles.
Surprisingly, the researchers also found that pomegranate extract administrationproducedthe followingseven beneficial effects:
- Reductionof oxidative stresslevels
- Decreaseinmonocytechemotaxis protein-1, a chemical messenger (chemokine) associated with inflammatory processes inarteries.
- Decreasedlipid accumulation in the myocardium
- Decreasedmacrophage infiltration in myocardium.
- Decreasedmonocyte chemotactic protein-1 and fibrosis in myocardium
- Decreasedcardiac hypertrophy
- DecreasedECG abnormalities
How can something as benign and mundaneas fruit extract simultaneously reverse so many aspects of coronary artery disease, as demonstratedinthe abovestudies? The answer may lie in the fact that our ancestors have long co-evolved with certain foods,especially fruits.Infact, two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling claimedthat vitamin C deficiency is therootcause of cardiovascular disease.Thisisbecauseour hominid primate ancestors were once ableto eat fruit year-round, butas a result lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C.
Thereis another obvious clue as to how pomegranateswork theirartery-opening magic. Anyone who has tasted pomegranates, or evendranktheir juice, knows thattheyhave a remarkable astringencythatdriesout the mouth and gums andgivesthemouth a stuffy sensation. This cleansing action,likeallastringents, comesfromitsabilitytoconstrictand sterilizethemucous membranes. Anyone who is fortunate enough to drink pomegranate juice or eat fresh pomegranates will understand why pomegranates are so effective in cleansing the circulatory system. Pomegranate juice looks like blood, or at least it resembles a multi-chambered heart, given its appearance compared to many other fruits.
Infact,yourmouthandarteriesarelinedbythesamecell type: epithelial cells. The epithelium is one of the four basic animal tissue types, alongwithconnective,muscular,andnervoustissue,thatmakeup the inner walls of the entire circulatory system. Inotherwords,whenyoufeelanamazingcleansingeffectinyourmouth, it isactuallysimilartowhatthecirculatorysystem-andtheepithelium/endotheliumliningtheveinsandarteries- “feels”.
Theseresultsareimpressive,ifnotgroundbreakingforthefieldofcardiology.Consideringthatcarotidarterystenosisincreasedby 9% within one year in the controlgroup,it is possible that the pomegranate intervention group had even better results than those shown by thereduction in intimamediathicknessalone.Inotherwords,assumingthat the pomegranategrouphad received no treatment, theircarotidthickeningwould havecontinuedtoprogressata rate of 9% per year as inthecontrolgroup, i.e.,reaching18%within2yearsand 27% within 3 years. This means, for example, that after three years of pomegranate treatment, the thickening of the arteries was reduced by more than 60% compared to ifthenaturalprogressionof the disease had been left untreated.Three Ways Pomegranates Heal the Cardiovascular System
Blood pressure lowering effect: Systolic blood pressure in patients taking pomegranate for 1, 3,6,9,and 12 months was reduced by 7%, 11%, 10%, 10%, and 12%, respectively, compared to pre-treatment levels. Pomegranate’sabilitytoreducesystolic blood pressure indicates a healing effect on the endothelium, the inner lining of arteries that do not relax sufficiently in heart disease.
Stabilization of plaque lesions: two of the 10 patients who received PJ (after 3 and 12 months) had clinical deterioration, so carotid surgery was performed and lesions were analyzed to determine differences in lesion composition from those who did not receive pomegranate. The researchers noticedfourdistinctdifferencesin the composition of thepomegranate-treatedlesions:1. Reduced cholesterol content: “The cholesterol content of the carotid lesions of the two patients who took PJ was 58% and 20% lower, respectively, than the lesions of the CAS patients who did not take PJ (Figure 3A) 2. Reduced lipid peroxide “Lipid peroxide content in lesions of patients who took PJ for 3 or 12 months was significantly reduced by 61% or 44%, respectively, compared to lesions of patients who did not take PJ (Fig. 3B). 3. Increased reduced glutathione content: “A significant 2.5-foldincrease in lesion reduced glutathione (GSH) A significant 2.5-fold increase in reduced glutathione (GSH) content (GSH is a major cellular antioxidant) was observed after 3 or 12 months of PJ consumption (Figure 3C). 4. decreased LDL oxidation:”LDL oxidation from lesions derived from patients who had consumed PJ for 3 or 12 months was significantly lower than that from CAS patients who had not consumed PJ. LDL oxidation by lesions derived from CAS patients who did not take PJ was significantly (Po0.01) reduced by 43% or 32%, respectively, compared to the rate of LDL oxidation by lesions derived from CAS patients who did not take PJ (Figure 3D).
Currently,theriskofcarotidarterystenosisisunderstoodprimarilybylesionsizeand not by assessing lesion quality. This is coupled with the notionthatthe amount of lipoproteins (i.e., “cholesterol”) in the blood alonedoesnotaccuratelyrevealwhetherthoselipoproteinsareactuallyharmful(atherogenic).Rather, if lipoproteins are oxidized (e.g., ox-LDL), theymaybeharmful (or representative of amore systemic physical imbalance), while unoxidized low-density lipoproteins are considered entirely benign, ifnot essential to cardiovascularandoverallbody health. Indeed,inthisstudy,researchersfoundelevatedlevelsoftriglyceridesandverylow-densitylipoproteinin the pomegranate-fedgroup.This suggests that the anti-atheroscleroticeffectismore likely related to the qualityofthephysiologicalenvironmentin whichlipoproteinsoperatethantothenumberof lipoproteins themselves.
Finally, it should be noted that all patients in this study were receiving conventional drug therapy for cardiovascular disease, including cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering drugs. Pomegranate therapy does not appear to interfere with drug therapy and is not only suitable as a complementary/adjunctive therapy for those on drug therapy, but the gradual deterioration of the control group’s condition (e.g., mean IMT increased by 9% within one year) illustrates how ineffective drugs are or how they can be a contributing factor to accelerating the disease process itself.