Nutrition and Healing
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  • Take it to the Heart

    Back in April I told you about how pomegranates are on their way to becoming the next superfood superstar (4/28/05 e-Tip, subject line: “Forbidden fruit”). I also said we’d keep you posted on more studies results proving pomegranate’s benefits as they emerge-and they have.

    One recent study on mice with elevated cholesterol levels showed that pomegranate juice the juice slowed the progression of atherosclerosis by at least 30 percent.

    In another study, pomegranate juice helped increase nitric oxide production in heart cells by 50 percent. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels relax, easing blood flow. This effect isn’t just good for your heart — it may also be good for your sex life. Increased blood flow is a prerequisite for men when it comes to getting and maintaining erections.

    Here’s some heartfelt information. Drinking pomegranate juice may aid the cardiovascular system.

    As I mentioned last time, pomegranates round, red fruit may not be the simplest fruit to eat,  due to its many seeds, but these studies used pomegranate juice, which is available in health food stores and even most regular supermarkets these days. At over $3.00 for a 16-oz. bottle, it’s not the cheapest juice on the market — but, then again, you can’t put a price on heart health.the effort may have an added bonus. Tests performed in both laboratory mice and in cultured human coronary artery endothelial cells showed that the juice from the seeded fruit can offer proven benefits.

    Pomegranate juice, extracted from the red, juicy flesh inside the fruit, is a rich source of antioxidants. Tests showed that in mice bred to have high cholesterol, the juice slowed the progression of cardiovascular disease, namely, atherosclerosis, by at least 30 percent.

    In cultured heart cells the juice helped increase nitric oxide production by 50 percent, which helps blood vessels to relax, easing blood flow.

    Take this information to heart and drink some pomegranate juice.


    How much is too much of a good thing?

    Q: Your articles talk about studies on various vitamins and supplements. But sometimes How come you do not always state the amount of supplement used in the various studies you mention. I want to try the natural approaches you recommend, but how do I know how much I should take??

    JVW: I can understand your frustration. There are some important reasons that I don’t always include the dosage information used in various studies. First, When learning of the nutritional benefits of certain supplements or foods, our natural inclination is to want to try them. But there are stark differences between studies in animals and studies in humans — and what is an effective generous dose for a rat may not correlate to a human’s needs.

    In addition, different people may need different amounts of the same nutrient to achieve the desired effects. For example, there are differences between people and the type and amount of supplementation they might need. It is often impossible to give an amount that would be correct for both a 200-pound male and a 115-pound female, not to mention everyone in between else.

    Even if a dosage amount is mentioned, I always recommend that you work with your doctor or an expert in nutritional supplementation so that your program can be tailored to your specific needs. That is the healthiest way to approach any nutrition or supplementation program.


    What is….atherosclerosis?

    Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque on the inner walls of the arteries. Eventually, it can, leading to a narrowing of the channel and impairing blood flow. This can lead to serious illness by reducing blood flow to major arteries such as those to the heart, brain, kidneys, legs, and intestines.

    It is most often found in people with high cholesterol. The number of plaque and their thickness tend to increase with age, leading to a loss of the smooth lining of the blood vessels, which in turn encourages blood clots to form. These clots can break off, traveling through the blood stream and blocking smaller blood vessels. Usually, atherosclerosis doesn’t produce any symptoms until the damage to the arteries is severe enough to restrict blood flow.

    Yours in good health,
    Amanda Ross
    Managing Editor
    Nutrition & Healing


    de Nigris F, et al. “Beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on oxidation-sensitive genes and endothelial nitric oxide synthase activity at sites of perturbed shear stress.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 29, 2005; 102(13): 4,896-4,901

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