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D.iet & H.ealth : H.eart & B.lood Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Pomegranate juice may reduce heart disease risk in diabetics
By Kathy Jones -
Oct 17, 2006, 21:31

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Drinking pomegranate juice may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis in diabetic patients, according to an Israeli study.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which artery walls are thickened and hardened. The condition is implicated in 80 percent of all deaths in diabetic patients.

Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology found that subjects who drank 180 ml (6 oz.) of pomegranate juice every day for 90 days were at a reduced risk of developing atherosclerosis.

According to the study, the juice appeared to inhibit the uptake of oxidized LDL or “bad” cholesterol by certain immune cells called macrophages, which would otherwise facilitate the development of atherosclerosis.

Lead researcher Professor Michael Aviram of the Technion Faculty of Medicine also revealed that the sugars present in pomegranate juice did not exacerbate diabetes although these sugars were identical to those found in other fruit juices.

"In most juices, sugars are present in free – and harmful – forms,” said Aviram. “In pomegranate juice, however, the sugars are attached to unique antioxidants, which actually make these sugars protective against atherosclerosis.”

The study was relatively small with only 20 participants. However it may be noted that the study is part of a larger initiative that seeks to examine the effects of pomegranates on cholesterol oxidation and cardiovascular diseases.

Aviram has already published papers that extol the antioxidant and anti-atherosclerotic benefits of licorice, olive oil, onions and pomegranates. He was the first scientist to prove that consuming red wine may inhibit cholesterol oxidation and arteriosclerosis, which is a leading cause of heart disease.

Earlier studies have linked consumption of pomegranate juice to reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease, prostate cancer and heart disease.

The details of the present study are published in the August 2006 issue of Atherosclerosis.

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