Study: Pomegranate Juice May Improve Heart Health

Men and women with coronary heart disease who drink one glass of pomegranate juice daily may improve blood flow to their heart, according to a new study.

This research, the results of which were published in the September 16th issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, one of the leading peer-reviewed cardiology journals (www.ajconline.org). The study is the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showing that pomegranate juice may affect the progression of coronary heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and in most of the world.

Researchers from the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, and the California Pacific Medical Center studied patients with coronary heart disease who had reduced blood flow to the heart. These 45 patients were randomly assigned into one of two groups: one group who drank a glass of pomegranate juice each day (240 ml/day, which is approximately 8.5 oz/day) or to a placebo group, who drank a beverage of similar caloric content, amount, flavor and color.

After three months, blood flow to the heart improved by approximately 17% in the pomegranate juice group but worsened by about 18% in the comparison group (i.e., a 35% relative between-group difference). These differences were statistically significant. This benefit was observed without changes in cardiac medications or revascularization in either group. Also, there were no negative effects on lipids, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, body weight or blood pressure.

Pomegranate juice is rich in polyphenols and other naturally-occurring antioxidants. It demonstrates high capability in scavenging free radicals and inhibiting low-density lipoprotein oxidation in vitro and in vivo. Other studies have shown that pomegranate juice has a number of important health benefits.

"Although the sample in this study was relatively small, the strength of the design and the significant improvements in blood flow to the heart observed after only three months suggest that pomegranate juice may have important clinical benefits in those with coronary heart disease," said senior author, Dean Ornish, M.D., who is founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at UCSF. "Also, it may help to prevent it."

Pomegranate juice from POM Wonderful was used in this study.

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