The pomegranate (punica granatum) is a fruit bearing plant.
The pomegranate is a shrub or small tree. It is cultivated for its fruit.
Its history dates back to antiquity where in Ancient Greek mythology pomegranates were the fruit of the dead while in the East, they were the symbol of health and fertility.
Pomegranates are filled with seeds, surrounded by a small amount of pulp
The color of the seeds range from a light yellow to a deep red.
The seeds and pulp contain a library of phytochemicals. The plant synthesizes powerful antioxidants and provides humans with a library of medicinal compounds that we research and investigate.
Pomegranate extracts, juices and the raw fruit, provide a library of compounds that promote health.
Most notable is ellagic acid, a compound stored in the fruit as an ellagitannin complex.
Ellagic acid is the predominant phenolic compound found in pomegranate.
Extracts are thought to support cardiovascular health and maintain proper immune function.
The most polyphenols are found in the juice of the pomegranate.
Within the polyphenol group, the most abundant are tannins, called punicalagins. The most researched of the phenols is the ellagitannin complex.
When ellagitannins are hydrolyzed, they release ellagic acid, which is converted by gut microflora to urolithin A, a metabolite.
This metabolite is preferentially absorbed in the prostate, colon and intestine. And so this is where ellagitannin is able to confer its protective effect.
The library of compounds in pomegranate has antiviral activity as well. This is due to its ability to inhibit the enzyme, reverse transcriptase, the enzyme required by retroviruses to replicate.
Pomegranate polyphenols have also been found to protect LDL or lousy cholesterol against oxidation.
The oxidized version of LDL is the compound thought responsible for initiating plaque in arteries.