`Pomegranate juice can reduce beer bellies, blood pressure`

Updated: Oct 02, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: A glass of pomegranate juice daily
can help lower your blood pressure and cut the risk of a beer
belly, a new study has claimed.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that
the superfruit not only cuts high blood pressure, it also
reduces the fat stored round the stomach -- the main cause of
heart diseases and strokes among middle-aged people.

In their experiment, the researchers gave 500ml of
pomegranate juice to 24 men and women every day for four
weeks.

After just one month, the volunteers were found to be
less likely to develop fatty cells around their abdomen and
had much lower blood pressure, the Daily Mail reported.

The researchers found that nearly half of all volunteers
had much lower levels of fatty acid in their blood, known as
nonesterified fatty acid or NEFA.

Previous studies in humans and animals have shown that
high NEFA levels are linked to a greater storage of fat around
the abdomen, as well as an increased risk of heart disease and
type II diabetes.

The scientists believe lowered the levels of NEFA means
the participants are less likely to store fat around their
stomach. In addition, more than 90 per cent of the men and
women had lower blood pressure by the end of the month.

This shows that drinking pomegranate juice daily can help
reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, the researchers
said.

Dr Emad Aldujaili, lead researchers of the study, said:
"There is no doubt that pomegranate juice is beneficial in
reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease because our
results showed a significant and consistent lowering of blood
pressure."

Dr Aldujaili added: "There is early evidence that
consumption of pomegranate juice may influence abdominal fat.

"We believe that these initial findings deserve more
detailed study. The subjects in our latest study had a healthy
body mass index, making the impact more difficult to observe.

"In future research we will investigate the effect on
overweight or obese subjects in whom the effect may be more
evident."

It is already known that pomegranate juice is high in
antioxidants, chemicals which help to neutralise harmful
oxygen molecules called free radicals.

If left unchecked, these molecules can damage cells
causing illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and resulting
in the body ageing more quickly.

The fruit is also thought to enhance the sex life, as the
antioxidants increase the amount of blood flowing to the
genitals.

The new findings will be presented at the International
Functional Food meeting at Oxford Brookes University next
month.

PTI