What is the Pomegranate?
The pomegranate is an edible fruit about the size of a grapefruit or slightly smaller. It has very thick, reddish coloured skin and is filled with seeds, each contained within a capsule of fluid called a sarcotesta. The generally sweet fluid can have slightly sour undertones, and is what makes the pomegranate a pleasant fruit to eat.
Where Does the Pomegranate Come From?
Pomegranate was originally cultivated in the Iran region of Europe, and has been used as a food and traditional medicine since ancient times. It is mentioned in the myths of Ancient Egypt and Greece, as well as through out religious texts, generally as a symbol of health and fertility. It is now used throughout Eastern Europe and Asia as a common cooking ingredient, as well as in Western Countries as a fruit to eat alone or as a juice.
Pomegranate Health Benefits
The pomegranate contains a mixture of fat soluble and water soluble compounds – these two components both have positive but different health benefits.
Punicalagins are found in the water soluble part, and are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with pomegranates. They are extremely potent antioxidants, even more so than green tea or red wine, although their absorption in the intestines is lower and so as an equivalent ends up being roughly on par. Its antioxidant qualities have effects throughout the body. It can have protective effects for the stomach lining, helping to reduce the incidence of gastric ulcers associated with aspirin or alcohol. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory effects in the bowel and may be useful in management of Chrone's Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome. The liver and kidneys are also protected from injury from alcohol or similar when taken at high doses.
It also has anti-cancer qualities, particularly for prostrate cancer, reducing the rate at which is multiplies and potentially inducing cell death. Punicalagin also has antibacterial effects, evident in both an increase in dental health and a reduction in urinary tract infections when taken as a supplement.
Pomegranate Benefits for Bodybuilding
In terms of the oil soluble part, the main effects occur due to the presence of Punicic Acid. As well as having mild anti-inflammatory effects, it also may have interactions with fat cells, increasing the oxidation of fat. Although no studies have been conducted with a direct focus on weight loss, it shows promise for future research.
It is also an anti-estrogen, interfering with the estrogen receptors at relatively high doses, but further research is needed to determine doses and potency of effect.
Pomegranate can have nitric oxide boosting effects, particularly as a whole fruit or extract. Although these effects have only been demonstrated in vitro, again with further research the effects could be carried over to humans. Due to similar mechanisms, the most well known effect of pomegranates is its ability to reduce blood pressure and improve heart health and blood lipid profiles.
Pomegranate Side Effects, Safety and Negatives
It should be noted that the absorption of the bioactive compounds can vary greatly from individual to individual, due to the differences in digestive bacteria in the gut. Therefore accurate dosing can be difficult to achieve, with some people gaining huge benefit from the supplement and others not at all.
Pomegranate extract may interfere with the effects of viagra, being associated with the occurrence of priapism, or painful, long lasting erections.
The fruit extract can be taken at levels up to 5g per kilo with no toxic effects. The same dose of the pomegranate oil was found to transiently increase the size of the liver, but was deemed not clinically relevant and would have no long term health effects.
Pomegranate Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing
The positive effects of the fruit are demonstrated at levels of 800mg of extract or 400mg of oil per day, but it is unknown whether this is the completely optimal dose. It can be taken with or without food.
It is possible to buy pomegranates as a whole fruit when they are in season, or out of season for an expense. Alternatively, you can buy the juice (water soluble compounds) or oil (fat soluble compounds) separately. Pomegranate extract of the whole fruit and seeds can be bought in capsule form.
Pomegranate would augment any bodybuilding stack, with its range of health and weightlifting benefits. Its anti-estrogen effects would sit well with testosterone boosters, and the possible fat burning mechanism could be beneficial with other fat burners. It can also be taken for general health with multivitamins.
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