Thursday, December 1, 2011


Pomengranate is known as a healthy fruit because of the presence of polyphenols of unique nature not found in any other common food. With the discovery of Punicalagins as the active ingredient that confers special health sustaining power to the fruit, Pomegranate has been pitch forked into prominence recently. Punicalagin is a complex polyphenol which is bio-active, meaning that it is absorbed across the intestine and polyphenols are known to have varying degree of antioxidant properties that can neutralize oxy-radicals generated in the body. Antioxidants are formed naturally in the body to nullify the ill effects of oxy-radicals frequently formed as a consequence of various metabolic reactions but supplementation through the diet is considered necessary to fully cope up with modern day life style stresses. Whether the finding that Punicalagins are virtual nutraceuticals can be compared to discovery of aspirin is a debatable point till more data is generated on this plant nutrient. Following report brings out the significance of the latest finding about the benefits of Pomegranate fruit vis-a-vis human health.  

"Scientists have hailed an extract from the humble pomegranate as the 'biggest breakthrough' in natural medicine since aspirin was discovered in willow trees in 1829. They have described it as the "Swiss Army Knife" of natural pharmaceuticals as it can do so many things — from improving heart health, lowering blood pressure, treating inflammation and reducing the risk of cancers to tackling sexual dysfunction, the Sunday Express reported. In fact, this is for the the first time that they have been able to unlock the precious new extract from seeds, skin and pith of the fruit. It contains concentrated punicalagins, a plant nutrient that is virtually unique to pomegranates. Punicalagins are mostly found in the fruit's inedible husk, rind, seeds and inner yellow membranes, which till now we tended to throw away. Dr Sergio Streitenberger, head of research at Probelte-Bio which made the breakthrough, said, "We've been throwing away the seeds, skin and the pith of pomegranates for years because they are inedible an we haven't had the science to enable us to release the benefits." Dr Emad Al-Dujaili at Queen Margaret University, UK claims, "The pomegranate continues to offer remarkable health benefits. "This new extract and the research that supports it suggests the fruit may be a beneficial natural supplement for the prevention of risk in serious diseases." 

That many fruits are rich sources of ployphenols is a known fact and Pomegranate also contains many antioxidants including Punicalagins. How far the new claim regarding this polyphenol can be attributed exclusively to it is not clear. In the Ayurveda system of alternative medicine prevalent in India this fruit has an important place with its peel, pulp, seed and even the tree bark being promoted as cure for many human ailments and there fore the new findings cannot be really considered new! Extensive human trials are yet to be carried out to bring out the benefits of Pomegranate and confirm many of the claims made by manufacturers of food supplements based on this fruit.