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Antioxidants in Pomegranate Juice May Fight Hardening of the Arteries

March 21, 2005 -- A new study shows that pomegranate juice may help fight hardening of the arteries.

Researchers found that pomegranate juice not only appears to prevent hardening of the arteries by reducing blood vessel damage, but the antioxidant-rich juice may also reverse the progression of this disease.

Hardening of the arteries, known medically as atherosclerosis, refers to the build up of plaque in the walls of arteries. This causes decreased blood flow that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Pomegranate Juice Soothes Stressed Arteries

In the study, researchers tested the effects of pomegranate juice on samples of human cells that line blood vessels. The cells were exposed to excessive physical stressstress, such as might occur with high blood pressurehigh blood pressure.

Cells that were treated with pomegranate juice had less evidence of damage from the stress.

In addition, tests on mice showed that pomegranate juice significantly slowed hardening of the arteries that developed from high cholesterolhigh cholesterol.

If further studies show those results in humans, researchers say pomegranate juice may be useful in both prevention and treatment of heart diseaseheart disease.

Pomegranate Tops Other Juices

The tests showed that pomegranate juice reduced the effects of stress on human blood vessel cells by stimulating the production of nitric oxide. This chemical is thought to help keep arteries open and keep blood flowing.

Researchers say the beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on hardening of the arteries are likely largely due to its high antioxidant content. The study showed that the antioxidant level in pomegranate juice was higher than that found in other fruit juices, including blueberry, cranberry, orange, and even red wine.

Previous studies on red wine, black tea, and purple grape juice have already indicated these antioxidant-rich beverages can protect arteries from damage by improving blood flow. However, large clinical trials using different antioxidants have yet to show that antioxidants can prevent heart attacks and other major heart-related events.

The results of this study appear in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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