year, i.e. 18% within 2 years, 27% within 3 years. This could be interpreted to mean that after 3 years of pomegranate treat- ment, for instance, the thickening of the arteries would have been reduced over 60% beyond what would have occurred had the natural progression of the disease been allowed to continue unabated.
3 Ways How Pomegranate Heals The Cardiovascular System The researchers identified three likely
mechanisms of action behind pomegran- ate's observed anti-atherosclerotic activity:
Antioxidant properties: Subjects receiving pomegranate saw
significant reductions in oxidative stress, including decreases in autoantibodies formed against ox-LDL, a form of oxi- dized low density lipoprotein associated with the pathological process of athero- sclerosis. Decreases in oxidative stress were measurable by an increase in the blood serum enzyme paraoxonase 1 (PON1) of up to 91% after 3 years; PON1 is an enzyme whose heightened activity is associated with lower oxidative stress. All of this is highly relevant to the ques- tion of pomegranate's anti-atherosclerot- ic activity because of something called the lipid peroxidation hypothesis of atherosclerosis, which assumes that it is the quality of the blood lipids (i.e. whether they are oxidized/damaged or not), and not their quantity alone that determine their cardiotoxicity/atheroge- nicity. Essentially, pomegranate prevents the heart disease promoting effects of oxidative stress.
Blood Pressure Lowering Properties: The intervention resulted in signifi- cant improvement in blood pressure: the
patient's systolic blood pressure was reduced 7%, 11% ,10%, 10% and 12% after 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of pome- granate consumption, respectively, compared to values obtained before treatment. Pomegranate's ability to re- duce systolic blood pressure indicates it has a healing effect on the endothelium, or the inner lining of the artery which fails to relax fully in heart disease; a condition known as endothelial dysfunc- tion.
Plaque Lesion Stabilization: Because two of the ten patients on PJ (after 3 and 12 months) experienced clinical deterioration, carotid surgery was performed and the lesions were analyzed to determine the difference in their composition to those who did not receive pomegranate. The researchers noticed four distinct positive differences in the composition of the pomegranate- treated lesions:
1. Reduced Cholesterol Content: "The cholesterol content in carotid lesions from the two patients that consumed PJ was lower by 58% and 20%, respec- tively, in comparison to lesions obtained from CAS patients that did not consume PJ."
2. Reduced Lipid Peroxides: "[T]he lipid peroxides content in lesions obtained from the patients after PJ consumption for 3 or 12 months was significantly re- duced by 61% or 44%, respectively, as compared to lesions from patients that did not consume PJ.
3. Increased Reduced Glutathione Con- tent: "A substantial increase in the lesion reduced glutathione (GSH) content,
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(GSH is a major cellular antioxidant) by 2.5-fold, was observed after PJ consump- tion for 3 or 12 months.
4. Reduced LDL Oxidation: "LDL oxida- tion by lesions derived from the patients after PJ consumption for 3 or 12 months, was significantly (Po0.01) decreased by 43% or 32%, respectively, in comparison to LDL oxidation rates obtained by le- sions from CAS patients that did not consume PJ."
Essentially these results reveal that not only does pomegranate reduce the lesion size in the carotid arteries, but "the lesion itself may be considered less atherogenic after PJ consumption, as its cholesterol and oxidized lipid content decreased, and since its ability to oxidize LDL was sig- nificantly reduced." This finding is quite revolutionary, as
presently, the dangers of carotid artery stenosis are understood primarily through the lesion size and not by assessing for the quality of that lesion. This dovetails with the concept that the sheer quantity of li- poproteins (i.e. "cholesterol") in the blood can not accurately reveal whether those lipoproteins are actually harmful (athero- genic); rather, if lipoproteins are oxidized (e.g. ox-LDL) they can be harmful (or representative of a more systemic bodily imbalance), whereas non-oxidized low density lipoprotein may be considered entirely benign, if not indispensable for cardiovascular and body wide health. In- deed, in this study the researchers found the pomegranate group had increased levels of triglycerides and very low den- sity lipoprotein, again, underscoring that the anti-atherosclerotic properties likely have more to do with the improved qual- ity of the physiological milieu within which all our lipoproteins operate than the number of them, in and of itself. Finally, it should be pointed out that all the patients in this study were undergo- ing conventional, drug-based care for cardiovascular disease, e.g. cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering agents. Not only did the pomegranate treatment not appear to interfere with their drugs, mak- ing it a suitable complementary/adjunct therapy for those on pharmaceuticals, but it should be pointed out that the control group's condition got progressively worse (e.g. the mean IMT increased 9% within 1 year), speaking to just how ineffective
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