The study was conducted by the Catalan Institute for Cardiovascular Sciences (ICCC) in Spain, but has yet to be published.
It is claimed to be the first in vivo study on the benefits of pomegranates on heart health.
Research author Lina Badimon, director of the ICCC said: “This study manifests that enriching a diet with pomegranate polyphenols can help in preventing and retarding endothelial dysfunctions, among the first signs of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.”
In Vivo study on swine
The research said that polyphenol compounds in pomegranates, predominantly punicalagins, helped to protect the endothelium, a tissue that covers the internal areas of blood vessels.
The study conducted tests on pigs rather than humans. A Probeltebio spokesman told NutraIngredients that this was because the ICC had standardized that procedure with swine, which have a similar cardiovascular system to humans. He added that strict and delicate surgical procedures also required the animals to be anesthetized.
Method: Pigs on pomegranate
Under the study, 24 pigs were split into two groups. One group was given a normal diet and the other a high cholesterol diet.
Half of the animals on the high cholesterol diet and half on the normal diet were supplemented with 625 mg a day of Pomonox, which supplied 200 mg of punicalagins daily for 10 days.*
After the trial period, the researchers analysed each pig’s capacity to dilate its coronary artery, known as the endothelial function. Oxidative damage, inflammation markers and signalling pathways for nitric oxide synthesis were also assessed.
The pigs on high cholesterol diets showed up to a 50% reduction in dilating function, as expected, as well as a diminished capacity to synthesise nitric oxide.
However, when the pigs on high cholesterol diets were supplemented with Pomanox it was said to negate the effects of their poor diet. The vasodilating capacity of their arteries diminished, oxidative damage at conorary level was prevented and MCP-1 inflamation markers were increased. Acitvity of the eNOS enzyme (endothelial nitric oxide synthase), an enzyme involved in the synthesis of nitric nxide, was also preserved.
The results were presented as a poster at the Congress of European Society of Cardiology in Amsterdam on 31 August.
Pomanox and other extracts
Probeltebio’s Pomanox contains 60 mg of punicalagins per 200 mg capsule. The firm grows its pomegranates in controlled orchards in Southern Spain and uses only pure water during the extraction process.
Another firm active in pomegranate extracts is beverage firm POM Wonderful. A 2009 study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry said that the firm’s POMx pomegranate supplements enhanced the growth of ‘good’ bacteria’ in the gut.
‘Supplementation with a pomegranate extract abrogates hypercholesterolemia-induced coronary endothelial dysfunction in swine’ [Due for publication] See abstract here.
Authors: G. Vilahur, T. Padro, L. Casani, G. Mendieta, J.A. Lopez, M. Penalver, L. Badimon
*CORRECTION - The article previously stated that all 24 pigs were supplemented with Pomonox. This was inaccurate. The pigs in the high cholesterol diet group and the normal diet group were divided into a supplementation and non-supplementation groups.