Antioxidant Series

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation by other molecules.  Oxidation is a chemical process that can create free radicals which can lead to other reactions which further can damage cells including creating cancerous cells.   Thousands of antioxidants have been identified that are in foods, vitamins & minerals or more simply put, those foods, vitamins & minerals contain compounds that have antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants protect cells from the damage that leads to heart disease, cancer and other diseases related to aging.

We are going to look at some of those foods, vitamins & minerals that have antioxidant compounds and look at the many benefits that are derived from adding these to your diet and regimen.

Pomegranate

Tart Cherry

Coming….Green tea, dark Chocolate, Grapes, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, selenium

Tart Cherry

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-oxidant – protects against cancer
  • Helps with sleep
  • Prevents & cures gout
  • Protects against heart disease
  • Joint relief
  • Muscle recovery

Anti-Inflammatory

Cherries are packed with unique anthocyanins and other compounds that naturally reduce inflammation.  These compounds deliver comparable anti-inflammatory activity to ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) without the significant side effects!  These powerhouse nutrients are responsible for the deep colors in some berries, fruits, and vegetables.

Antioxidant – AntiCancer

Naturally, like other anthocyanin-rich foods, tart cherries also provide strong antioxidant activity.  Tart cherries are superior because they provide high levels of some novel anthocyanins that are not present in other anthocyanin-rich foods, such as blueberries or bilberries! 

Studies have shown that the anthocyanins, found in tart cherries, can switch off genes involved in the multiple pathways of cancer.  Anthocyanins can also trigger apoptosis, the programmed cell death that causes pre-cancerous cells to self-destruct. 

Sleep

Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle.  Studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice twice a day helped to increase sleep time.

Gout

Gout is an incredibly painful form of arthritis caused by a build up of uric acid crystals in the bloodstream. It usually effects the big toe, but can cause pain in other joints as well.  Uric acid is naturally found in our bloodstreams, but when too much of it builds up, it forms into crystals.

What causes gout can simply be blamed on too much sugar, alcohol and meat in the diet.  Not everyone who over indulges in these items will have gout, so genetics are involved as some are more disposed to gout than others. 

The bioflavonoids and anthocyanins in tart cherry fight inflammation and lessen uric acid levels in the blood. Less uric acid in the blood means less work your kidneys have to do, keeping the buildup of uric acid down and eliminating those harsh, sharp crystals.

Heart disease

The compounds found in cherries modulate numerous pathways to protect against other conditions associated with inflammation — including cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.  A study published in the 2009 Journal of Medical Food concluded that tart cherries decrease the risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Tart cherry juice contains one of the most powerful antioxidants that exists, quercetin. Among other functions, quercetin prevents oxidative damage caused by free radicals from damaging low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol), according to a study published in European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Science in 2013. When LDL cholesterol is oxidized, it is more likely to adhere to artery walls, forming plaque which contributes to heart attack and stroke.

Joint Relief

The anthocyanins in tart cherries have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Of all the cherries, tart cherries contain the highest level of this potent red pigment, thus have the strongest healing potential. The anti-inflammatory power of tart cherry it is very effective at relieving joint pain. 

Muscle recovery

Running and exercise can induce muscle damage that generates inflammation and with that, burning, stiffness and pain.  The anthocyanins in tart cherry is effective in protecting against this type of injury by inhibiting the pain and inflammatory effects. 

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Pomegranate

Pomegranates have been enjoyed for thousands of years and are a symbol of hope, fertility and abundance in many cultures. They’ve been found in Egyptian tombs, eaten by Babylonian soldiers prior to battle and incorporated into Persian wedding ceremonies to symbolize a joyous future.

It’s even been suggested that it was pomegranates, not apples, that grew in the Garden of Eden. This is probably not true but fun to think about.  Pomegranates are sometimes referred to as the Chinese apple or “jewel of the winter” (in North America, pomegranates are in season during early winter), pomegranates are one of the world’s most popular fruits.

Ruby red, delicious and nutrient rich pomegranates pack a powerful punch in safeguarding  health.  The primary source of pomegranate’s benefits come from its antioxidant content, particularly ellagitannin compounds like punicalagins and punicalins, which account for about half of the pomegranate’s antioxidant ability. It’s also an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, with one pomegranate providing about 40 percent of the daily requirement for this vitamin.

Pomegranate juice has been analyzed to have greater antioxidant capacity than red wine, grape juice, blueberry, cranberry juice, green tea or acai juice.  It’s greater capacity is primarily because it contains the most of every type of antioxidant.

Pomegranates contain three types of antioxidant polyphenols, including tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid, in significant amounts.  Antioxidants are nature’s way of providing your cells with an adequate defense against the toxic effects of free radicals.  If you don’t have an adequate supply of antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals, then you can be at risk of oxidative stress, which leads to accelerated tissue and organ damage. Antioxidants may also help to lower chronic inflammation in your body. Providing your body with these important micronutrients, you will be able to resist cellular damage and aging caused by our constant exposure to pollutants.

Health Benefits of Pomegranates

Anti-cancer
Pomegranate’s antioxidant activity is known to inhibit cell proliferation and invasion, and promote apoptosis (cell death) in various cancer cells.   In one study, pomegranate extract was found to inhibit the growth of human breast cancer cells by inducing cell death.  According to the University of Maryland Medical Center:

“In test tubes, pomegranate extracts made from juice, rind, and oil slow down the reproduction of cancer cells and may hasten their death. Some extracts also help reduce blood supply to tumors, starving them and making them smaller. Most studies have focused on breast and prostate cancer cells. In one other study, pomegranate juice extract given to mice slowed down the growth of lung tumors. However, most of these studies have been in test tubes or in animals, not humans.”

In men with prostate cancer, those who drank pomegranate juice significantly lengthened the time it took for their PSA levels to double (from about 15 months to 54 months).  Men whose PSA levels double in a short time are at an increased risk of death from prostate cancer, so the results suggest that pomegranate had a powerfully protective effect.

Pomegranates for Heart Health

There is evidence to suggest that the antioxidants in pomegranates also benefit your heart in a number of ways, including lowering systolic blood pressure, slowing, and even reversing the growth of plaque formation in arteries, and improving blood flow and keeping arteries from becoming thick and stiff.

According to the authors of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, mice that drank pomegranate juice reduced the progression of atherosclerosis by at least 30 percent.

“In this experimental study, we have established that polyphenols [antioxidant chemicals] and other natural compounds contained in the pomegranate juice may retard atherogenesis,” said Claudio Napoli, a professor of medicine and clinical pathology at the University of Naples, Italy.

The research is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Pomegranates Help with Arthritis and Joint Pain

Pomegranates or pomegranate extract may help reduce joint pain and decrease inflammation in arthritis sufferers. The antioxidants in pomegranates may also help to reduce inflammation that contributes to the destruction of cartilage in your joints, a key reason for the pain and stiffness felt by many osteoarthritis sufferers. One study even found that pomegranate extract blocked the production of a cartilage-destroying enzyme. Researchers concluded:

“PFE  [pomegranate fruit extract] or compounds derived from it may inhibit cartilage degradation in OA [osteoarthritis] and may also be a useful nutritive supplement for maintaining joint integrity and function.”

A Possible Natural Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction

Leading erectile dysfunction drugs treat erectile problems by increasing nitric oxide production, relaxing your blood vessels, which increases penile blood flow.   Pomegranate juice has been shown to protect nitric oxide and enhance its effects on certain biologic systems, which suggests it may be useful for helping erectile dysfunction.

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References:

https://www.drfuhrman.com/learn/library/articles/23/9-pomegranate-health-benefits-that-offer-powerful-disease-protection

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/10/pomegranates.aspx#

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/pomegranate

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/03/0322_050322_pomegranates.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Chondroprotective+effects+of+pomegranate+juice+on+monoiodoacetate-induced+osteoarthritis+of+the+knee+joint+of+mice

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