`Pomegranate juice can reduce beer bellies, blood pressure`

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 super fruit 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.