Can pomegranates really add years to your life - and fight cancer?

They're the trendy fruit that are the latest must-have ingredient for salads and juices, even cocktails. But could pomegranates help you live longer, too?

This is down to chemicals called ellagitannins, which are found in high levels in the fruit.

Our gut bacteria turn these chemicals into a compound called urolithin A, which helps keep the mitochondria (tiny battery packs that power the body’s cells) charged.

In lab studies, worms and mice given urolithin A lived longer and ran further . Some experts warn it’s too early to say the same would happen with humans.

But pomegranates have previously been credited with an array of health benefits, including fighting cancer.

In a small study in 2006, researchers found that drinking a daily 227ml glass of pomegranate juice significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer — it’s thought urolithins block cancer cell growth.

Now a trial involving 30 patients is looking at whether supplements containing the fruit’s extract can prevent prostate cancer spreading.

And a small 2004 study suggested a daily glass of the juice may reduce cholesterol build-up and damage in patients with narrowed arteries.

Another study, found that it could improve blood flow and reduce heart attack risk in heart disease patients.

More recent research suggests compounds in the fruit may help boost memory and exercise performance, improve blood pressure, strengthen bones and, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, help prevent Alzheimer’s.

And there are suggestions that these anti-inflammatory benefits could apply to other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s.

But much research has been carried out on animals or in a lab, and larger scale human trials are needed before any firm conclusions can be made, says Helen Bond, a state- registered dietitian.

 ‘Pomegranates do contain antioxidants, which can help protect against damaging free radicals and so may protect against age-related disease generally,’ she says.

‘But if your diet is rich in fruit and vegetables it will be naturally rich in antioxidants.

‘Eat a rainbow of fruit and veg to ensure you get a wide range of different nutrients and plant compounds.’

And eat the seeds whole rather than juicing them, she says.

 ‘These are absorbed more quickly and won’t keep you so full, and are more damaging to teeth. And by eating the seeds whole you also get the beneficial fibre.

What’s more, some of the studies involve antioxidants which are found in pomegranate’s skin, which we rarely eat, says Rebecca McManamon.

 

Source: Daily mail

N.H.Kh