Pomegranate inhibits early stages of hardening of the arteries

August 29, 2005

When LDL-cholesterol goes rancid, it greatly contributes to hardening of the arteries and may be the main cause of this life threatening condition. The initial phase of hardening of the arterial walls process occurs when damaged LDL comes into contact with the lining of the blood vessel wall. This causes a free radical-inflammatory cascade of events. At this point, stay put cells that are part of the immune system migrates to the lining of the blood vessel in an effort to defend it and here is the start of the permanent blockage of blood flow. These immune cells known as macrophages are phagocytic cells - cells that normally gobble up bacteria and viruses. In this case the macrophages gobble up the damaged LDL and create a foam cell - a cholesterol laden immune cell that is an early occurrence in the process of hardening of the arteries.

Research has shown that Pomegranate and its polyphenols inhibit macrophage-foam cell formation and the development of atherosclerotic lesions (the early stages of hardening of the arteries). In this study, macrophages were treated with Pomegranate. The Pomegranate inhibited the incorporation of damaged LDL into the macrophages by 40% demonstrating at least one crucial way that Pomegranate protects blood vessel walls. The study was performed at the Lipid research Laboratory, The Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences and Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and is published in the September 2005 issue of The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

We recently reported a study where pomegranate polyphenols decreased thickening of the carotid artery intima- media thickening by up to 30% after one year in patients with carotid artery stenosis (narrowing) whereas the intima-media of the control group increased by 9% during the same time period. The study was published in the June 2004 issue of the journal Clinical Nutrition.

Vitamin E may decrease the risk of breast cancer

It has been proposed that Vitamin E supplementation may decrease a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. In this study, researchers investigated the ability of one form of Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. The higher the level of Vitamin E, the better it was able to inhibit the proliferation of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells, potently inhibiting the growth of MCF-7 cells by 53% and inhibiting the growth of T47D cells by 75%. The Vitamin E significantly reduced the response to estrogen and inhibited proliferation of MCF-7 cells by 69% and inhibited the proliferation of T47D cells by 84%. The study is published in the current issue of the journal Nutrition and Cancer.