Pomegranates are back on the shelves, and hopefully, back in our hearts! I have just spotted Pomegranates on the shelves of my local produce stores at rock bottom prices, meaning they are in season nearby. They contain valuable anti-oxidants that are well known to protect the heart.
What’s news is that they also have been shown to have protective effects on the skin. Dr. Hassan Mukhtar, who I met over 10 years ago when he presented his findings on the anti-oxidant protective effects of green tea extract, EGCG,recently published studies on the protective effects of pomegranate extract against Ultraviolet (UV) radiation damage. His group’s studies, published in 2005 showed that pomegranate extract inhibited UV damage in cultured human skin cells by inhibiting the changes in two molecular pathways associated with cancer (known as NF-kappaB and MAPK).
More recent studies showed that feeding Pomegranate extract to mice protected against a wide variety of biological markers related to UV light induced development of cancer. This information is important because it substantiates the mechanism by which pomegranate protects against skin cancer induced by UV light. Some of those mechanisms of UV damage also contribute to aging of the skin. So data is emerging suggesting that food derived anti-oxidants such as pomegranate may protect against both skin aging and cancer.
You can pick up pomegranates at your local produce store and enjoy them as a snack or desert. I eat them with an old dark sweat shirt or apron on, and not my favorite light colored clothing, as the red juice from the seeds has a tendency to squirt and stain when you cut them open. It may take you a few tries to get used to the slightly tart taste.
The seeds are the size of corn kernels, and have hard seeds inside. The white pulp around them is slightly bitter, but is also loaded with anti-oxidants, so I eat some of that along with the delicious red juice in the seeds. I make sure that the seeds have the rich purple color, and toss away those that have turned brown, in some sections of the fruit.
Pomegranates have been revered for thousands of years in the Middle East. If you travel to those lands, you will notice the familiar round shape with a wide, protruding stem in paintings and jewelry. Perhaps they were revered because of benefits seen in those who ate them over generations. It’s exciting to know studies simply confirm that you now can protect both your skin and your heart by enjoying this tasty fruit.
To your health,
Dr. Alan M Dattner, MD
Holistic Dermatology & Natural Skin Care