With vivid burgundy seeds and a distinctive sweet flavor, the pomegranate is a nutrient-dense fruit that is fun to eat and steeped in history. Its medieval French name originates from the Latin roots for “apple” and “seedy,” according to the University of California. It was first cultivated in Iran, but spread to the Mediterranean area and later to the Americas. People during the Middle Ages thought pomegranates were good for liver inflammation, a common malady in men, but today, other male health benefits are being discovered.
by Maia Appleby
Heart Disease Risk Factors
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the United States. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are two of the greatest risk factors for heart disease. According to researchers at Rambam Medical Center in Israel, drinking pomegranate juice regularly may lower these risk factors. Study participants who drank it every day for a year lowered their arterial plaque by 30 percent and their blood pressure by 9 percent, while those who did not drink pomegranate juice had 9 percent more artery plaque after one year. The researchers concluded that pomegranate juice’s polyphenols, which work as potent antioxidants, were responsible for the improvements.
Compounds in pomegranate may stop prostate cancer cells from metastasizing and may even kill them, according to University of California at Riverside researchers Lei Wang, Andre Alcon and Jeffrey Ho. After treating laboratory-cultured prostate cancer cells with pomegranate juice, they found that the cells failed to adhere, which is what cells need to do for cancer to spread and form tumors. The presence of testosterone triggers prostate cancer cells to metastasize, but the researchers theorize the flavones, phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids and conjugated fatty acids in pomegranate juice blocked testosterone and thwarted the process.
Pomegranates may help men maintain their physical strength and muscle mass. Researchers from the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, U.K. gave pomegranate juice to 22 men to study its effect on their salivary testosterone levels. After two weeks, the participants’ testosterone levels increased by an average of 24 percent. If drinking pomegranate juice daily can increase testosterone levels, doing so may benefit middle-aged men who, according to the Endocrine Society, lose muscle mass as their testosterone levels begin to decline.
Type 2 Diabetes
MayoClinic.com lists type 2 diabetes as the sixth greatest health threat to men in the U.S. After observing pomegranate consumption in mice, researchers at Kinki University in Japan concluded that ellagic acid, a compound in pomegranates, lowers levels of resistin, a hormone that triggers insulin resistance. The ellagic acid in pomegranates may prove useful as a preventive measure for people with blood sugar issues.