Pomegranate Extract as Diet Supplement

September 9/Agriculture Business Week -- According to recent research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, "The health benefits associated with pomegranate juice have led to the development of pomegranate extracts as botanical dietary supplements. Pomegranates contain hydrolyzable tannins in the form of punicalagins and punicalin as well as tannin-based complex oligomers that account for much of the antioxidant activity in juice."

"The content of ellagic acid has been used to standardize most pomegranate extract dietary supplements marketed. However, supplements can be adulterated with ellagic acid from less expensive plant sources and undercut this method of standardization. To compare the phytochemical contents and antioxidant activities of commercially available pomegranate extract dietary supplements beyond their content of ellagic acid, a total of 27 different supplements in the form of capsules, tablets and soft gels were studied. Total phenolics were measured using both gallic acid equivalent (GAE) and ellagic acid equivalent (EAE) assays. Punicalagins, punicalin, and ellagic acid contents were determined by HPLC, whereas antioxidant capacity was measured using the Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) assay. Of the 27 supplements tested, only five had the typical pomegranate tannin profile by HPLC, 17 had ellagic acid as the predominant chemical with minor or no detectable pomegranate tannins, and five had no detectable tannins or ellagic acid. Therefore, standardization of pomegranate extract supplements based on their ellagic acid content does not guarantee pomegranate supplement authenticity," wrote Y.J. Zhang and colleagues, University of California.

The researchers concluded, "Future research is needed to assess the health impact of substituting ellagic acid for the complex mix of phytochemicals in a pomegranate extract dietary supplement."

Zhang and colleagues published their study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry ("Absence of Pomegranate Ellagitannins in the Majority of Commercial Pomegranate Extracts: Implications for Standardization and Quality Control." Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009;57(16):7395-7400).

For additional information, contact D. Heber, University of California, Center Human Nutrition, David Geffen School Medical, Warren Hall 12-217, Los Angeles, CA 90095.

From the September 14, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition