Few can argue that a good diet goes a long way to maintaining health but as various foods reveal their hidden secrets and we are just discovering the real healing powers of the food we eat. With heart disease forever on the rise in the UK the news that the humble pomegranate could help reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease was met with great interest by doctors and patients alike. Pomegranates have long been known to deliver a high concentration of antioxidants, more so that green tea and red wine, but not much was known about the real power of the pomegranate on health. In general, antioxidants are good for us. They help to reduce the damaging effects of a stressful life and improve the health of tissues that can become affected by inflammation. In the cardiovascular system its the smooth lining of blood vessels that shows the impact of stress and inflammation with the generation of thickenings known as plaques that can eventually encroach on the hollow blood vessel reducing the flow of blood. As time passes, such a reduced blood flow can seriously influence the organ that relies on it; in the case of the heart this can lead to a heart attack or a stroke if the brain’s circulation is affected. The damaging chemicals generated by bad diet, smoking and stress are known as free radicals. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and neutralize them before they can cause trouble. Interestingly, the use of pomegranate to help off set heart disease has been the focus of research first in Haifa, Israel, then followed in 2004 by a UK team from the Hammersmith Hospital in London and reported by the BBC’s on line news service. What drew their interest was the remarkably high concentrations of soluble antioxidants known as polyphenols and anthocyanins of which the phenol compound known as ellagic acid appears to be responsible for the bulk of the fruits health benefits. What became evident from the study that followed people over 3 years was that those who regularly consumed pomegranate juice enjoyed many cardiovascular benefits above and over those of non-pomegranate users. The benefits included a lowering of blood pressure, promotion of a healthier blood fat profile and improvement in the health of the artery wall. Their research was backed up by some impressive results all of which indicated a real benefit to the heart and circulatory system of regular pomegranate consumption.
Hot on the heels of the positive effects of pomegranate on heart health comes work that suggests an equally powerful effect on male prostate health. Preventing disease in the prostate looks to be well suited to nutritional measures. Its been estimated that slowly accumulating levels of inflammation, over some 15 years, lies at the centre of many non-cancerous prostate problems. Pomegranate consumption has been shown to significantly reduce the inflammation that eventually causes trouble in the gland and beneficially influence various blood test results that are used to monitor the health of the prostate gland. It’s interesting that the tradition of breaking a pomegranate open at a wedding as a symbol of fertility still occurs in Greece today reflecting its long association with promoting reproductive health.
If you don’t fancy drinking or eating a daily serving of two of pomegranate then consider the whole fruit dietary supplement by Natures Way. It’s standardised to contain 40% ellagic acid, the key antioxidant in pomegranate, and is supplied in vegetarian capsules. Just two capsules a day is a convenient way to get your pomegranate is your not actually a fan of the fruit!
Pomegranate and PSA
University of Maryland pomegranate review
In vitro antiproliferative, apoptotic and antioxidant activities of punicalagin, ellagic acid and a total pomegranate tannin extract are enhanced in combination with other polyphenols as found in pomegranate juice. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Pomegranate and blood pressure study. Atherosclerosis 158 (2001) 195–198
Pomegranate and cardiovascular health. Drugs & Experimental Clinical Research (2002) 49-62
There is a lot of talk about “oxidative stress” and heart disease. This process results from an imbalance between excessive formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and/or reactive nitrogen species and limited antioxidant defences. Endothelium (the lining found within blood vessels) and nitric oxide (NO) are key regulators of vascular health. NO bioavailability is regulated by ROS that degrade NO, uncouple NO synthase, and inhibit its production. Cardiovascular risk conditions contribute to oxidative stress, causing an imbalance between NO and ROS, with a relative decrease in NO bioavailability. Dietary flavonoids represent a range of polyphenolic compounds naturally occurring in plant foods. Flavonoids are potentially involved in cardiovascular prevention mainly by decreasing oxidative stress and increasing NO bioavailability.
Diet and nutrition play a fundamental role in cardiovascular prevention and in maintaining physiological homeostasis. Recent literature emphasizes the potential therapeutic effects of micronutrients found in natural products, indicating positive applications for controlling the pathogenesis of chronic cardiovascular disease. In this context, cocoa, some chocolates, red wine, and tea received much attention, because they are particularly rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals with strong antioxidant properties. In addition, polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in our diet and are common constituents of foods of plant origin and are widespread constituents of fruits, vegetables, cereals, olive, dry legumes, chocolate and beverages, such as tea, coffee and wine.
The full study is available for down load (click here
) where the reaserchers conclude that these key antioxidants exert a protective and preventative finctio in the battle against atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.
Just published… a key study looking at the effect of antioxidant supplementation with vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium on arterial health and inflammation. As the research gathers pace, heart disease and the clogging of the arteries known as atherosclerosis is being view more as an inflammatory disease rather than a passive accumulation of fatty material within the walls of blood vessels.
This latest paper helps support the long held theory that antioxidants can help off set this process and protect the health of the cardiovascular system.
In this study, 70 people with two diagnosed cardiovascular risk factors (see the study for details) were recruited from a hypertension clinic. 35 people were given a 6 month course of capsules containing vitamin C (500 mg) vitamin E (200 iu), co- enzyme Q10 (60 mg) and selenium (100 mcg) while the other 35 were given a placebo. The summary conclusion is displayed below and the results and technicalities can be viewed by following the link at the end of this post.
Conclusions: Antioxidant supplementation significantly increased large and small artery elasticity in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. This beneficial vascular effect was associated with an improvement in glucose and lipid metabolism as well as decrease in blood pressure.
The original paper is free to download from the open access journal by clicking here.
Shargorodsky M, Debbi O, Matas, Z, Zimlichman R. Effect of long term treatment with antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 and selenium) on arterial compliance, humoral factors and inflammatory markers in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:55 doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-7-55
At Hadley Wood Healthcare we are keen on spreading the word… Our colleagues in America have just published a great resource describing the difference between regular CoQ10 and its biologically active form known as ubiquinol.
Here is a taster, you can read the rest at Intergrative Interventions web site;
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a fat-soluble, essential quinine molecule found throughout the body. In fact, CoQ10 is so prevalent that it was given the name ubiquinone, from the word “ubiquitous”—found everywhere. Coenzyme Q10 is a natural nutrient that’s found in the mitochondria, the energy-producing organelles present in every cell of the body. Called a “coenzyme” because of its unique ability to participate in chemical reactions yet remain unchanged, CoQ10 assists in two vital cellular activities: adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and free radical scavenging. To carry out these activities, mitochondrial CoQ10 continuously cycles from ubiquinone, its ATP production state, to ubiquinol, its reduced and active state.
If, after reading this, you are interested in taking ubiquinol, click here to learn more about ActiveLife Q10.
Cholesterol and heart disease have become synonymous; having a high cholesterol being associated with a high risk of heart disease. While arguments rage on regarding this cause and effect relationship what is known is that heart disease is a multi-factorial issue. In other words, a mixture of age, sex (being male or female that is!), being a smoker, having high blood pressure, being diabetic, not exercising much along with having an elevated cholesterol are all in the mixing bowel when it comes to heart disease. Cook this over a gentle heat of an ill-determined collection of individual genetic traits and the growing knowledge of environment and emotional stress influences and it becomes very evident that just altering the cholesterol level may be easily measurable and important but it is by far just one modifiable risk factor. Despite this, the cholesterol business is booming. Special spreads to help lower cholesterol are appearing and retired cricketers are spouting the heart protective virtues of wholegrain breakfast cereals… Along side this onslaught we now have a range of powerful drugs that floor cholesterol levels within a very short space of time; the infamous ‘statins’.
I find it interesting that back in 2000 the Journal of the American Heart Association stated that “Statins are well tolerated and have an excellent safety record “, and by 2010 the UK medical journal Heart was commenting that “…studies have found that patients starting statins are at increased risk of adverse effects, including liver dysfunction, myopathy, acute renal failure and cataracts.”
Today, statins are one of the commonest prescribed drug which prompted a large scale investigation of the available information by a team from Cambridge University, followed by their publication in the highly respected journal Archives of Internal Medicine. After the careful analysis of 11 key clinical trials involving 65,229 participants their conclusions rocked the statin world; “ …analysis did not find evidence for the benefit of statin therapy.” So…, confusion all round!
If we look at heart disease as an end point then its not surprising that simply shifting one factor is not the answer. Statin therapy or other cholesterol lowering approaches may be important in individuals at high risk, such as those with diabetes or previous heart attacks, but slapping all those with a low risk or simply a mild elevation in total cholesterol may need some rethinking when all the potential list of side effects are taken into account. With their tendency to cause side effects another problem arises when lowering cholesterol is needed but the user simply can’t tolerate any of the statins prescribed. Reliable estimates show that as many as 40% of those who receive a prescription for a statin are thought to take it for less than 1 year. Possible reasons include the adverse effects, poor explanations of their benefits by their doctor, and patients’ reluctance to take prescription or long-term medications. This may help explain the growth in the use of Red Yeast Rice (RYR) powder as a food supplement which, in the USA, rose by 80% from 2005 to 2008. RYR has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and in a recent study demonstrated the ability to reduce cholesterol levels in those previously affected statin related side effects, such as muscular pains, to the point where they had to stop statin therapy! RYR powder in capsules may be the way forward for those needing to trim their levels. Often just 2 capsules (1200mg) daily is all that’s needed!
For a long time we have demonized red meat as the bringer of ills and cause of all manner of circulatory problems. However, can we still take this standpoint in the light of some ground-breaking research?
On the surface of it, red meat does look to be an issue when we consider heart health as an endpoint. Eating just 50g of processed meat per day (similar portion size as a hot-dog sausage) has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by a massive 42% and increase your risk of diabetes, a commonly associated complication to heart disease, by 19%. The problem with making recommendations regarding meat intake comes from the fact that until now, processed red meat and unprocessed red meat have all been lumped together under one heading in studies. When we look deeper into the similarities and differences between the processed and unprocessed meats we find similar cholesterol levels but processed meats had up to 50% or more preservatives such as nitrates as unprocessed meat. Such a high preservative content looks to be responsible for the adverse health effects associated with processed meat products. A paper published this May in the journal Circulation is the first of its kind to actually separate processed from unprocessed meat consumption; the results are fascinating. The consumption of unprocessed meat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease!
Naturally, such breaking is not indented to prompt or stimulate a surge in unprocessed red meat consumption but should reflect the importance of a food, that’s any foods, natural state. The study clearly identifies the addition of unnatural chemicals as a trigger for the food to behave differently once inside the human body. It’s important to keep in mind that along with the added nitrates already mentioned, processed meats also contain added sodium (salt) and even extra fat. We already know that excessive dietary salt elevates blood pressure and that the addition of chemicals such as nitrates promotes atherosclerosis (fatty hardening of the blood vessels) and insulin resistance (one of the causes of type-II diabetes) so it should not be such a surprise that processes meats trigger illness!
What the study underpins is that even a little red meat will probably do you no real harm if taken in it’s natural state and as part of a diet rich in variety and freshness and based in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
If you are a co-enzyme Q10 user – read on… We have a special but limited supply of Smart Q10 that is being offered on a but-1-get-1-FREE deal. This is a genuinely unique product and to our knowledge, the only Q10 product that can boast that 21 studies in support of its use.See April 28th blog entry for a list of these studies.
Q10, also referred to as coenzyme Q 10 or ubiquinone, is a natural fat-soluble nutrient present in virtually all living cells in the body. CoQ10 has a crucial role as a cofactor in the mitochondrial synthesis of cellular energy. Although it is produced by the body and exists in some dietary sources, these levels may be insufficient to meet the body’s requirement.