Study under review: Pomegranate Extract Improves Maximal Performance of Trained Cyclists after an Exhausting Endurance Trial: A Randomised Controlled Trial.
The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a ruby red fruit thought to confer widespread health benefits. Generally, pomegranate arils (the fleshy part surrounding the seeds) or the juice of the fruit are consumed while the husk of the fruit is discarded. Polyphenols are among the most common phytochemicals found in the pomegranate, with the husk being especially rich in phenolic acids and tannins. Polyphenolic compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In the pomegranate, a polyphenol called punicalagin is believed to be the most prominent source of these activities. Punicalagin releases ellagic acid upon hydrolysis, which also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The past decade has seen a rapid accumulation of investigations into the putative cardio-protective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic activities of pomegranate components. However, these studies are preliminary in nature and almost exclusively performed in rodents or human cell lines. In cardiovascular studies, pomegranate juice consumption has been shown to reduce various indicators of cardiovascular disease, including mean arterial blood pressure, thickness of the carotid wall, triglyceride levels and low-density lipoprotein oxidation, and atherosclerotic lesion size. The anti-inflammatory function of punicalagin has been demonstrated in a rat model and in lipopolysaccharide-treated mouse macrophages. Furthermore, pomegranate juice and extract have shown anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects in animal and cell culture models of prostate, breast, lung, and skin cancer. Although evidence suggests that pomegranate may contribute positively to one’s health, much of it remains to be confirmed by high-quality human trials.
Given its antioxidant properties, the pomegranate is an intriguing food for investigation in the context of athletic activity, as exercise-induced oxidative stress can hinder performance and muscle recovery. The randomized controlled trial under review joins a handful of other scientific investigations into the pomegranate’s potential utility as an ergogenic aid.
Pomegranate phytochemicals have antioxidant properties that have been examined in tissues and animals, but are less well studied in humans. These properties suggest that pomegranate may have utility in exercise science as an ergogenic aid.
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Other Articles in Issue #55 (May 2019)
NERD Mini: Food groups’ association with the risk of overweight and obesity
How much do certain food groups contribute to obesity risk? A recent systematic review and meta-analysis explored this question.
NERD Mini: The state of the evidence concerning A1 beta-casein
A1 beta-casein is a type of protein found in the milk of certain breeds of cattle. There's some evidence to suggest that this protein is associated with negative health outcomes. But how good is this evidence?
Examining coenzyme Q10 for migraine relief
The exact causes of migraine headaches aren't fully known, but part of the equation may involve mitochondrial problems. Could supplementing a major player in mitochondrial energy production help mitigate migraines?
Are we saffroning our way to mitigating diabetes?
Certain herbs and spices may have a beneficial impact on diabetes. We've covered lemon balm and cinnamon in the past. In this volume, we add saffron to the list of spices we've examined in the NERD.
The myth of the sugar rush
Common sense and plausible mechanistic arguments suggest that carbohydrates can influence mood. But do they? And by how much?
Dietary carbohydrate for glycemic control: Does it matter in type 1 diabetes?
This randomized controlled trial adds to the scarce literature examining the medium-term effects of a lower carb diet in people with type 1 diabetes.
Gucci vs. Gap carbs
Quality matters when it comes to carbs. This series of meta-analyses explored what measures of carb quality are most useful for predicting health outcomes.