Each year, hundreds of thousands of American develop new blood clots that often lead to disability and death, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. For 4,000 years, folk medicine practitioners have been using extracts from the juice of red pomegranate fruits to treat a variety of health conditions including blood vessel disorders. Modern researchers investigating those effects are finding that pomegranate juice may help promote cardiovascular health.
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Blood clots can form in your arteries or in a vein, known as deep vein thrombosis. Clots are formed by platelet cells that form over skin wounds and around injured blood vessels to help your body heal. After the clots have done their job, your body dissolves them. When something goes wrong with that process, the clot doesn’t dissolve, and pieces of clots in veins can travel to other parts of the body and lead to heart problems, lung clots or strokes that can be life-threatening. When clots form in the arteries that supply blood to your heart, they can cause heart attacks.
Pomegranate Health Benefits
Free radicals are molecules in your body that attack and damage DNA and cells, leading to disease. Free radicals can oxidize unhealthy LDL cholesterol, converting it into plaques that clog your arteries Antioxidants are compounds found in many plant sources, including pomegranates and pomegranate juice, which prevent the conversion of cholesterol into plaques. The type of antioxidant found in pomegranates and other fruits is called a polyphenol, with pomegranates having higher levels of polyphenols than red wine, blueberry juice and green tea.
When plaques build up on the inside of your arteries, it’s called atherosclerosis. This condition is caused in part by the accumulation of LDL and fats and increases the risk of blood clots forming in those arteries. An article published in 2002 in “Drugs under Experimental and Clinical Research” summarized research into the effect of pomegranate juice on atherosclerosis in both mice and human subjects. It reported that pomegranate polyphenols are effectively able to prevent atherosclerotic plaques and LDL oxidation.
Researchers in Rome published findings in the April 2009 issue of the “Journal of Medicinal Food” that showed polyphenols in pomegranate juice are able to inhibit platelet clumping that forms clots. Pomegranate juice also protected against the proliferation of thromboxane, a substance made by platelets that causes blood clotting and constriction of blood vessels.
Pomegranate juice may interact with anticoagulant drugs taken to prevent blood clots, increasing their effects. Talk to your doctor before using pomegranate juice if you’re taking blood thinners and don’t consume the juice at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery. There are a few reports of people with plant allergies who experienced an allergic reaction to pomegranate.