Pomegranates and Blood Sugar

Pomegranate seeds shaping heart in hands
handful of pomegranate seeds shaped into a heart (Image: olgaman/iStock/Getty Images)

The seed and flower of the pomegranate fruit may possess properties capable of lowering blood sugar, potentially benefiting patients with hyperglycemia and diabetes. Doctors from India to Africa are studying pomegranate seeds, flowers and their extracts and compounds for hypoglycemic, or blood sugar lowering, properties, and to identify their mechanisms. For example, a 2007 "Journal of Medicinal Food" report acknowledges the hypoglycemic activity of pomegranate seeds, flowers and juice and identifies three antioxidant acids as among their potentially anti-diabetic constituents. If you have concerns about your blood sugar, consult with your doctor and only use pomegranate-based therapies with her approval.

Pomegranate Fruit & Juice

Bunch of red ripe pomegranate fruit on tree
pomegranate fruit growing on the Punica granatum tree (Image: Andriy Bandurenko/iStock/Getty Images)

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the pomegranate fruit grows on the Punica granatum tree native to Iran and now cultivated in parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean. Used for millennia in folk medicine, it has since demonstrated antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral properties in laboratory tests, although human trials have been neither as abundant nor conclusive. There is no standard dosage of pomegranate for medical purposes, although UMM's Steven D. Ehrlich, N.M.D., reports that drinking 8-12 ounces per day is considered safe. Ehrlich warns, however, that people with diabetes should not drink pomegranate juice or any fruit juice without their doctor's prior approval.

Pomegranate Seed

Red pomegranate seeds
bowl of pomegranate seeds (Image: MarkSkalny/iStock/Getty Images)

A 2007 study in the "African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines" on the blood sugar-lowering effects in diabetic rats of several herbal compounds, including pomegranate seeds, found no significant difference in the fasting blood-glucose levels of the subjects fed pomegranate seeds from the control group. Study author Gholamali Jelodar and colleagues did, however, detect a minor, albeit negligible, effect on fasting blood-glucose levels from pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate Seed Extract

Pomegranate
close up of pomegranate seeds (Image: Ravle/iStock/Getty Images)

Jelodar and colleagues also pointed to a 2001 study published in "Phytotherapy Research" that found that the extract of pomegranate seeds, as distinct from direct consumption of the seeds themselves, did display significant hypoglycemic effects in diabetic rats, lowering their blood sugar by about half. Jelodar and colleagues explain this apparent discrepancy between pomegranate seeds and their extract as possibly due to a compound in pomegranate seeds with hypoglycemic effects that, in extract form, was more concentrated and therefore more effective in lowering blood sugar than the seed form.

Pomegranate Flower

punica granatum legrelliae
pomegranate flower on tree (Image: cynoclub/iStock/Getty Images)

According to a 2008 "Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism" review, practitioners of the two medical sciences of India, Ayurveda and Unani, prescribe pomegranate flower to treat diabetes. The review's authors suggest that certain compounds in pomegranate flower called PPARs may be responsible for this effect, noting that PPARs are involved in regulating blood sugar balance and that synthetic PPARs are commonly used to treat hyperglycemia, among other metabolic disorders.

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