The pomegranate is thought to have a variety of health benefits. Could it help inflammation?
With the news that some anti-inflammatory medications may increase the risk of heart disease, it’s not surprising that people are looking for natural ways to help inflammation without the use of drugs. Attention has increasingly turned to use of natural, anti-inflammatory foods to help reduce pain and inflammation. One food that’s received a great deal of attention for its role in reducing inflammation is the pomegranate. Could the fruit of the pomegranate be a natural way to help inflammation in such diseases as rheumatoid arthritis?
Is there any evidence?
A study published in the Journal of Inflammation this month showed that pomegranate extract may have natural anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers found that extract from the pomegranate could inhibit inflammatory cells known as basophils and mast cells. These cells play a key role in activating and maintaining the inflammatory response by releasing pro-inflammatory chemicals such as histamine and cytokines. When pomegranate extract was added to these cells, they produced fewer cytokines which resulted in less inflammation.
Although this study was done using cells that were removed from the human body, previous studies using pomegranate extract have shown it has the potential to reduce inflammation associated with arthritis. The researchers are now hoping to see how pomegranate extract works in the human body to see if it could be a viable treatment to help inflammation.
Why is pomegranate’s ability to help inflammation so important?
More studies are showing that a variety of diseases are associated with chronic, low grade inflammation such as heart disease, arthritis, and even some types of cancer. By finding natural foods and supplements that help inflammation, it may reduce the incidence of some of the more common chronic diseases.
Why might pomegranate extract help inflammation?
Pomegranate is a rich source of polyphenols which are strong antioxidants and are thought to be responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect. Previous studies have shown pomegranate’s polyphenols can reduce cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease. Because of its high antioxidant content, pomegranate has become a star in the world of medicinal fruits and is being studied for its role in reducing the risk of a variety of chronic diseases.
What’s the bottom line?
While it may be premature to use pomegranate extract to help inflammation, by adding this fruit to your diet you can benefit from its antioxidant power as well as its great taste. More natural food stores and even standard grocery stores are starting to carry fresh pomegranate as well as pomegranate juice. Look for them next time you’re grocery shopping and enjoy their great taste and potential health benefits.