The researchers used mice to test the health effects of pomegranate juice. The fruit juice is rich in natural polyphenols, including tannins and anthocyanins, which have protective effects on the arterial wall.
"Although it is difficult to extrapolate human indications from experimental data, it is conceivable that 500 milliliters [1 pint] of pomegranate juice may exert some beneficial effects in patients with early stages of atherosclerotic diseases," Napoli said.
The antioxidant level in pomegranate juice was found to be higher than that in other natural juices, such as blueberry, cranberry, and orange juices, as well as red wine.
Scientists have found that polyphenols from red wine can reduce LDL ("bad" cholesterol). Black tea consumption also reverses endothelial dysfunction (damage to the linings of the arteries) in patients with chronic heart disease.
Similarly, the polyphenols contained in purple grape juice have also been found to have beneficial effects on patients with coronary heart disease.
Napoli points out that not every antioxidant study has confirmed that the chemicals can help prevent heart attacks. "Certain large clinical trials employing different antioxidants have failed to show any beneficial effects in the prevention of major cardiovascular events," He said.
He said the models employed in experimental studies may not precisely reflect the disease in humans.
"We need to study the effects of these substances in patients with early stages of atherosclerotic diseases," Napoli said. "Aged patients with advanced stages of atherosclerosis are not the best candidates to this therapeutic approach."
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