The bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds of the pomegranate (Punica Granatum) have a long history of use as a medicine, particularly in the Middle East, India, and China. The Chinese and South Africans use it to treat inflammation, rheumatism, irregular uterine bleeding and hemorrhaging, and abdominal pain.
In Unani medicine (a traditional practice of medicine in south-Asian countries and the Middle East), pomegranate is prescribed as a food supplement to treat diabetes. Due to its potent antimicrobial properties, pomegranate has even been used to treat intestinal worms.
Now, research is revealing the extract’s promising antioxidant and anti-cancer potential.
Say “No” to Aging with Antioxidants
Without enough antioxidants, your body can’t fight off free radical damage, and becomes vulnerable to aging and disease. Pomegranate delivers a powerhouse helping of antioxidants when consumed internally as well as applied topically. Pomegranate’s antioxidant activity is fueled by ellagitannin compounds (punicalagins and punicalins being the standouts). It’s also packed with vitamin C—40% of the recommended daily value, in fact! These antioxidants, along with gallic acid and catechin, help accelerate wound healing, as well as repair sun-damaged, aging skin.
Experts have discovered that pomegranate increases the longevity of fibroblasts (cells responsible for collagen and elastin production). Collagen and elastin work together to give strength and support to your skin. A Medical College of Virginia study showed that the oil from pomegranate seed extract helps boost collagen production, thereby thickening both the outer and inner layers of the skin.
Other studies suggest that pomegranate seed extract may demonstrate a prohibitive influence on some forms of skin cancer. Snacking on pomegranate seeds is one way to benefit, but if you’re interested in the skin-saving benefits, seek out pomegranate seed extract oil in stand-alone form, or as an added ingredient in your skin care products.
Show No Mercy to Cancer Cells
An anti-inflammatory compound in pomegranate and pomegranate seed extract called punicic acid has been shown not only to reduce the inflammation that causes joint pain and arthritis, but also to fight cancer. A 2002 study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment showed that pomegranate seed extract suppressed the growth of estrogen-dependent cancer cells in culture. It also inhibited the ability of cancer cells to cross barriers and spread, and even increased apoptosis (cancer cell self-destruction).
A 2010 study in the International Journal of Oncology confirmed pomegranate’s influence on cancer cells, showing that cancer cell cultures treated with punicic acid experienced apoptosis at rates 91% higher than untreated cancer cells. Research has shown that pomegranate seed extract effects prostate cancer in the same manner. Pomegranate seed extract, along with pomegranate flower extract and pomegranate juice, has also shown promise in the treatment of colon cancer and leukemia.
What’s the second most common cancer in men worldwide? Prostate cancer… and it’s much more prevalent in developed countries. Experts believe that higher rates of prostate cancer in industrialized nations are partially due to the Western diet and lifestyle. Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Oxford recently identified three dietary components that may help slash your risk for prostate cancer.
Lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, stood out as the all-star prostate cancer-fighting nutrient.
10 Tomatoes a Week Keep the Doctor Away!
The study, published in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, is the first “dietary index” to track dietary components and their effects on prostate cancer. Researchers compared the diets and lifestyle behaviors of 1,806 prostate cancer patients between the ages of 50 and 69 with 12,005 cancer-free men. They discovered that selenium, calcium, and lycopene effectively reduced prostate cancer risk, with lycopene showing the most influence.
|FACT: Men who consumed 10 portions a week of tomatoes or tomato products (like baked beans or tomato juice) had an 18% reduced risk for developing prostate cancer!|
Lead researcher Vanessa Er, from the School of Social and Community Medicine at the University of Bristol and Bristol Nutrition BRU, explains: “Our findings suggest that tomatoes may be important in prostate cancer prevention. However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm our findings, especially through human trials. Men should still eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, maintain a healthy weight and stay active.”
Researchers also analyzed lifestyle factors, particularly the anti-cancer lifestyle recommendations for diet, physical activity, and body weight set forth by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). While the suggestions of these two organizations are pertinent to overall cancer prevention, they aren’t targeted at prostate cancer prevention, and researchers determined that only dietary recommendations lowered prostate cancer risk. This study confirms that a high intake of fruits, vegetables, and fiber helps lower your odds of a prostate cancer diagnosis.
The Anti-Cancer Effects of Lycopene
Lycopene is a carotenoid found in fruits such as the tomato, apricot, guava, and watermelon. It has been shown to shield against toxins that damage DNA and cells. Previous studies have shown that lycopene suppresses androgen receptor expression in prostate cancer cells in vitro, and decreases prostate cancer cell proliferation. Lycopene has also been shown to protect against cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration (the primary cause of vision loss in people over 60).
To increase your lycopene consumption, add some tomatoes, grapefruit, asparagus, parsley, and carrots to your diet. You’ll notice the results from the inside out, as lycopene also helps your skin maintain a radiant, healthy glow.