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Pomegranate seed oil may prevent diabetes: Study

By Stephen Daniells , 26-Aug-2009

Consuming oil from pomegranate seeds may prevent the development of diabetes, suggest results from a study with mice fed a high-fat diet.

Pomegranate seed oil, rich in conjugate linolenic acid, was found to change weight gain, reduce body weight, and improve insulin sensitivity in mice, “suggesting that risk of developing type 2 diabetes may have been reduced”, says a paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

While the juice and pulp of pomegranate have received considerable attention, particularly for their potential heart health benefits, as well as benefiting joint health and as a potential prevention of prostate cancer, the seeds have been largely ignored.

The source of the fruit and juice’s benefits is the antioxidant content, particularly ellagitannin compounds like punicalagins and punicalins, which accounts for about half of the fruit's antioxidant ability.

However, oil from the fruit’s seeds has minimal antioxidant content, but it is a rich source of 9-cis, 11-trans conjugate linolenic acid. This is a different compound to the one currently on the market - CLA or conjugated linoleic acid.

Study details

Led by Brian McFarlin from the University of Houston, the researchers divided 60 male mice into three equal groups. The first group consumed a high-fat diet, the second group consumed the same high-fat diet but was supplemented with the pomegranate seed oil (61.8 mg per day, POM Wonderful), and the third group consumed a normal diet.

At the end of the study, the mice fed the high-fat diet and supplemented with the pomegranate seed oil gained about 10 grams less than the high-fat only group. Furthermore, insulin sensitivity increased, while leptin decreased and adiponectin increased. “Leptin and adiponectin are closely related to body weight and body composition,” they explained.

However, the researchers did not note any heart health benefits, in terms of reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. “Despite reduction in weight gain and type 2 diabetes risk, markers for CVD were not altered,” they said.

“It is reasonable to speculate that CVD risk was not altered because POMo lacks the antioxidant properties of pomegranate fruit/juice or was not used at a high enough dose,” they said.

Dr McFarlin and his co-workers stated that future studies should evaluate the potential effects and elucidate the underlying mechanisms of the health benefits of consuming the oil during a period of weight gain.

Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Volume 102, Pages 54-59, doi:10.1017/S0007114508159001
“Pomegranate seed oil consumption during a period of high-fat feeding reduces weight gain and reduces type 2 diabetes risk in CD-1 mice”
Authors: B.K. McFarlin, K.A. Strohacker, M.L. Kueht

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