The power of the pomegranate

Numerous studies in both animals and human volunteers have demonstrated the efficacy of a whole-fruit pomegranate extract in various well-being applications, including inflammation, sports nutrition, digestive and cardiovascular health, reports Andrea Zangara, Scientific Marketing Manager, Euromed

Pomegranates have been a symbol of health and longevity in many cultures worldwide for millennia. For thousands of years, they have been used both as food and traditional medicine. Euromed, a producer of standardised herbal extracts, now offers a natural, whole-fruit extract from carefully cultivated pomegranates using a water-only extraction technology.

The extract – Pomanox – contains up to 30% punicalagins, which are among nature’s strongest antioxidants.

Mighty polyphenols

Punicalagins are water-soluble polyphenols and a characteristic feature of pomegranates. These antioxidants naturally stimulate the production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator that helps to improve blood circulation.

A preclinical study with Pomanox by the Catalan Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (ICCC) demonstrated that pomegranate polyphenol metabolites increase the synthesis of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOs), promoting the recovery of endothelial vasodilation and therefore preventing and reverting any endothelial dysfunction caused by general inflammation and artery hardening.1

Several human studies confirm the ability of Pomanox as an extract and as extract-enriched juice to ameliorate cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure.2–5

Hypertension is one of the most common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and its prevalence increases with age. In a clinical study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, researchers supplemented 55 subjects (53 completed the trial) with either Pomanox or a placebo for 8 weeks.6

By the end of the trial, the participants given Pomanox had lower blood pressure, indicating that the pomegranate extract may help to promote healthy blood pressure. The beneficial effects of a low-calorie extract of pomegranate are particularly useful, as it would avoid the increased calorie intake resulting from the consumption of large quantities of juice.

Synergistic Mediterranean duo

In addition, supplementation with pomegranate and olive extract appears to have a synergistic, beneficial effect on endothelial function. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study evaluated the combined administration of Pomanox and Euromed’s natural olive extract Mediteanox on 67 apparently healthy middle-aged adults.7

During the study at the Clinical Nutrition Department of the La Paz University Hospital in Madrid, the participants were given either capsules containing Mediteanox and Pomanox or a placebo for 8 weeks. The supplement comprised 195 mg of punicalagins from Pomanox and 9.9 mg of hydroxytyrosol from the natural olive fruit extract Mediteanox. Hydroxytyrosol is an EFSA-recommended heart-friendly polyphenol and powerful antioxidant.

Compared with the placebo, supplementation with the natural extracts improved several blood markers in all subjects. It enhanced endothelial function, particularly in those affected by endothelial dysfunction, and reduced levels of circulating oxidised low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (oxLDL) more significantly in subjects with higher levels of oxLDL, which was an improvement compared with the placebo group.

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Although all subjects demonstrated lowered blood pressure, the prehypertension and hypertension subgroups exhibited more significantly decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure after the supplementation period.

Endothelial dysfunction is greatly under-diagnosed in the general population, but plays a major role in the early stages of poor blood circulation and is later associated with plaque progression and the occurrence of cardiovascular events. Supplementation with Mediteanox and Pomanox may therefore prove to be an additional strategy in maintaining normal blood flow and heart health.

Additional benefits

Much of the existing research on natural pomegranate extract has focused on its cardiovascular health benefits; however, additional healthy ageing advantages such as the modulation of inflammatory and metabolic responses, as well as prebiotic effects, have also been observed in these clinical studies.

Other evidence-based health benefits of Pomanox from published and unpublished studies include reduced hair loss, improvements in cognition and mood, as well as better sports performance. Taken together, these indications suggest that pomegranate can help to maintain a superior quality of life during the ageing process.

A recently published study by the Department of Exercise Physiology, San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia in Spain, demonstrates improvement in sports performance and recovery.8 The randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover trial investigated whether Pomanox could improve the peak performance of trained amateur cyclists (26 completed the study) after an exhausting endurance trial.

The key outcomes show that 14 days of supplementation with the pomegranate extract significantly increased the time to exhaustion and the time to reach ventilatory threshold 2 (VT2) in a maximal test, after a long endurance effort, compared with a placebo.

According to the authors, this shows that both maximal and submaximal performance increased. The physiological conditions of the physical protocol were similar to those occurring in long-distance competitions when athletes decide to increase their efforts during the final stages of a race, and may be valuable when the aim is peak performance.

Additionally, 72 hours after the trial, muscular damage and the inflammation biomarkers — creatine kinase (CK) and C-reactive protein (CRP) — were lower for the Pomanox group than for the placebo group, especially CRP (27.96% lower).

Preventing adulteration

In spite of the mounting evidence supporting pomegranate’s myriad health benefits, adulteration remains a key hindrance to reaching its market potential. The prevalence of adulterated pomegranate extracts, which do not contain the natural profile of polyphenols found in pomegranate, are a real concern for the botanicals industry.

Not all pomegranate extract products provide the same health benefits. Many of them contain high levels of ellagic acid (up to 40%). These products do not have the characteristic and native chemical profile of whole pomegranate and may contain suspiciously high levels of ellagic acid (a polyphenol with poor bioavailability), likely derived from botanical sources other than pomegranate.9,10

Euromed’s water-soluble Pomanox extract originates from carefully controlled cultivars in Spain and is obtained via the proprietary, ecofriendly Pure-Hydro Process, a water-only extraction technology. It is perfect for inclusion in dietary supplements, functional foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

As a herbal ingredient supplier, transparency, sustainability, proper sourcing and supply chain control are key to Euromed, and have been ever since its foundation in 1971. Each production batch undergoes several pharmaceutical-grade laboratory tests to guarantee that the ingredients are unadulterated and do not contain undesirable contaminants.

References

  1. G. Vilahur, et al., Rev.. Esp Cardiol. (Engl. Ed.) 68(3), 216–225 (2015).
  2. C. Tsang, et al., J. Nutr. Sci. 1:e9, 1–9 (2012): doi: 10.1017/jns.2012.10.
  3. A.I. Dujaili, et al., Endocrine Abstracts 28, 313 (2012): www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0028/ea0028p313.
  4. A. Stockton, et al., EC Nutrition 2.4, 396-411 (2015).
  5. A.I. Dujaili, et al., EC Nutrition 4.6, 982–995 (2016).
  6. A. Stockton, et al., J. Nutr. Sci. 6:e39 (2017): doi: 10.1017/jns.2017.36.
  7. R. Quirós-Fernández, et al., Nutrients 11(3), 640 (2019): doi.org/10.3390/nu11030640.
  8. A. Torregrosa-García, et al., Nutrients 11(4), 721 (2019): doi.org/10.3390/nu11040721.
  9. D. Heber, et al., J. Agri. Food Chem. 57, 7395–7400 (2009).
  10. J.H. Cardellina, HerbalGram 112, 62–69 (2016).

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