Prepared Foods November 14, 2005 e-newsletter

Men and women with coronary heart disease who drink one glass of pomegranate juice daily may improve blood flow to their heart, according to a new study.

This research is the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showing pomegranate juice may affect the progression of coronary heart disease, which is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and in most of the world.

The promising results from this research were published in the September 16 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Scientists from the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and California Pacific Medical Center studied 45 patients with coronary heart disease who had reduced blood flow to the heart.

These patients were randomly assigned into one of two treatment groups: one drank a glass of pomegranate juice each day (240ml/day, approximately 8.5oz/day); the other, a placebo group, consumed a beverage of similar caloric content, amount, flavor and color.

After only three months, blood flow to the heart improved approximately 17% in the pomegranate juice group but worsened around 18% in the comparison group (i.e., a 35% relative between-group difference). These differences were statistically significant. The researchers note this benefit was observed without changes in cardiac medications or revascularization in either group. Also, there were no negative effects on lipids, blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, body weight or blood pressure. Pomegranate juice is rich in polyphenols and other naturally occurring antioxidants. It demonstrates high capability in scavenging free radicals and inhibiting low-density lipoprotein oxidation in vitro and in vivo. Other studies have shown that pomegranate juice has a number of important health benefits.

"Although the sample in this study was relatively small, the strength of the design and the significant improvements in blood flow to the heart observed after only three months suggest that pomegranate juice may have important clinical benefits in those with coronary heart disease," said senior author Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and clinical professor of medicine at UCSF. Also, it may help to prevent the disease, he added.