A new study has shown that drinking a little amount of pomegranate juice daily could reverse the atherosclerotic process (deposition of fat on the arterial walls causing narrowing and hardening of arteries) in the carotid arteries (blood vessel located in the front of the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain) thereby preventing stroke (lack of blood supply to the brain may lead to reversible or irreversible paralysis) and certain types of dementia (loss of memory), which are some of the consequences of carotid artery atherosclerosis.
According to researchers pomegranate juice contains a number of powerful antioxidants (such as phenolic compounds, tannins and anthocyanins) that help in preventing oxidation of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is an important cause for development of atherosclerosis.
To check the efficacy of pomegranate juice a study was conducted on 19 people suffering from severe atherosclerosis of carotid arteries. Ten of the participants were asked to drink 50 ml of pomegranate juice daily whereas nine of the participants were not given the juice. At the beginning of the study all participants underwent ultrasound examination (which measured the thickness of two inner layers of the arteries) to determine the severity of atherosclerosis. During the study the participants did not make any changes in diet and lifestyle and continued to take their medications (prescribed for high blood pressure and increased cholesterol).
After 1 year of the study the ultrasound examination was repeated in all the participants. It was observed that the severity of atherosclerosis decreased by almost 35% in participants who consumed pomegranate juice daily. On the other hand the severity of atherosclerosis increased by almost 9% in participants who did not drink pomegranate juice. The study also showed a substantial fall in the systolic blood pressure (the upper number of blood pressure reading), from an average of 174 mm Hg (at the beginning of the study) to 153 mm Hg after one year. The diastolic blood pressure (the lower number of blood pressure reading), which was initially normal, did not change during the study.
The researchers concluded from the study that pomegranate juice significantly lowers LDL susceptibility to oxidation; this along with reduction in systolic blood pressure may account for the improvement in atherosclerosis.