Pomegranate juice and heart health

In the past decade, there have been a number of studies of the potential of pomegranate juice to support cardiovascular health and provide additional health benefits as well. Recently we reviewed a research report published in 2012 that looked at the cardiovascular and immune system benefits of pomegranate juice for hemodialysis patients. This was a randomized placebo controlled double-blind trial (a kind of research design that is likely to produce reliably objective findings). The patients were followed for one year as they used pomegranate juicee three times a week while continuing their dialysis treatments. The results:

Pomegranate juice intake resulted in a significantly lower incidence rate of the second hospitalization due to infections. Furthermore, 25% of the patients in the pomegranate juice group had improvement and only 5% progression in the atherosclerotic process, while more than 50% of patients in the placebo group showed progression and none showed any improvement.

And the conclusion:

Prolonged pomegranate juice intake improves nontraditional CV [cardiovascular] risk factors, attenuates the progression of the atherosclerotic process, strengthens the innate immunity, and thus reduces morbidity among HD [hemodialysis] patients.

Of course, this research involved a special group of patients, those on hemodialysis. But, as a well-designed study, it does, we think, provide a fairly strong endorsement of the health benefits of pomegranate juice.

For more on pomegranate juice, see the NYBC entry

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=40&products_id=333

Note that NYBC also carries the Douglas supplement Cardio-Edge, which includes pomegranate:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?cPath=35&products_id=284

Reference: Shema-Didi, L et al. One year of pomegranate juice intake decreases oxidative stress, inflammation, and incidence of infections in hemodialysis patients: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Free Radic Biol Med. 2012 Jul 15;53(2):297-304. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2012.05.013. Epub 2012 May 17.

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New FDA warnings on statins; NYBC reviews supplements to support cardiovascular health

In February 2012 the FDA added new safety warnings about statins, the cholesterol-lowering medications that are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. The side effects cited by the FDA include memory loss, muscle pain (myopathy), and now a significant diabetes risk as well. Reports of memory loss, confusion, and forgetfulness were found in all types of patients taking statins, according to the new warnings.

In addition, a 2011 review in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine concluded that statin-related muscle pain was much more common than previously reported. (The main reason: clinical trials of statins often eliminated patients more likely to develop muscle pain as a side effect of the medication.) The same article estimated that muscle pain as a side effect may help explain why up to 25% of adults stop taking statins within six months, and up to 60% stop taking them within two years.

There is good evidence that statins can be valuable in preventing heart disease, and there is widespread consensus that they remain a crucial option for many dealing with cardiovascular disease and risk. However, it’s also more evident than ever that statin side effects are significant. And given the side effects, there is some disagreement among doctors about what cholesterol levels should call for treatment with statins, and what levels can better be dealt with through changes in diet or exercise habits.

It’s a complex subject and of course involves many individual factors including age, family history and blood pressure, so, as you’d expect, NYBC advocates that everyone make decisions about how best to manage cardiovascular risk and disease in consultation with their healthcare provider.

Given the new FDA warnings about statins, NYBC also believes that it’s more important than ever for people to be aware of the potential of dietary supplements in supporting cardiovascular health. Here are some of the supplements we often recommend for consideration:

–Plant products called sterols have been shown to inhibit cholesterol. See, for example, Douglas Labs’ Cardio-Edge.

Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids). Research has found a strong effect on lowering triglycerides, one measure associated with cardiovascular risk. Recommended to support cardiovascular health by the American Heart Association.

Flaxseed: 40-50 grams per day can have a substantial impact on cholesterol.

Pomegranate concentrate. Needs more study, though recent research found that diabetic patients taking pomegranate concentrate were able to lower their cholesterol significantly.

Finally, if you are taking statins, consider supplementing to lessen the risk of certain side effects. A 2011 research report suggested that Vitamin D deficiency might contribute to muscle pain caused as a side effect of statins, and that supplementing with the sunshine vitamin could reverse that side effect. (Reference: Glueck, C J et al. Curr Med Res Opin. (2011 Sep). “Vitamin D deficiency, myositis-myalgia, and reversible statin intolerance”) Also, a 2007 pilot study suggested that the supplement CoQ10, used to support cardiovascular health in a variety of contexts, could diminish statin-related myopathy and improve a person’s ability to continue normal daily activities. (Reference: Caso, Giuseppe. Am J Cardiol. 2007 May 15. “Effect of coenzyme q10 on myopathic symptoms in patients treated with statins”)

For more on Vitamin D and CoQ10 see the NYBC entries:

CoQ10

Vitamin D3

The Virtues of Pomegranate

NYBC’s buyers’ co-op stocks Pomegranate Juice Concentrate (Jarrow) Each bottle, 12 oz (355 ml) of 100% pomegranate juice concentrate. This concentrate is really thick, so you are getting a lot of the pomegranate in a bottle!

Pomegranate is one of Nature’s most powerful sources of antioxidants, with an antioxidant power greater than that of blueberries and strawberries. Various studies suggest that pomegranate’s antioxidants may help to improve the level of glutathione in cells. (Glutathione is sometimes called the “master antioxidant” for its role in controlling many damaging inflammatory responses in the body.) Specifically, pomegranate may support blood vessel health and counteract the oxidative processes of atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries”)

A related product: Cardio-Edge (Douglas Labs). This combination supplement was devised by Douglas Labs following recent research attention to “plant sterols” and other botanical substances that can support healthy cholesterol levels. Cardio-Edge also includes pomegranate (for support of cardiovascular health, as mentioned above), and Sytrinol (a proprietary extract obtained from citrus and palm fruits).

Reference: Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clinical Nutrition 2004; 23:423-233.

Healthy cholesterol levels the botanical way

We’ve long known about certain supplements like niacin, pantethine, omega-3 fatty acids that can have an effect on cholesterol levels. In recent years, research attention has also focused on “plant sterols” and other botanical substances that can provide help in supporting healthy cholesterol levels.

Responding to this emerging science, supplement suppliers have devised some combination supplements. Among them is Douglas Lab’s Cardio-Edge, which includes: plant sterols (phytosterols) from soy; Sytrinol (a proprietary extract obtained from citrus and palm fruits); and pomegranate extract.

Here’s a little more detail on the product:

Cardio-Edge is designed to help maintain cardiovascular health and support healthy cholesterol levels. Sytrinol is intended to have the following effects, some of which you can monitor with routine bloodwork to assess its effect for you. These include:
1) Decrease apoprotein B, needed for LDL synthesis
2) Decrease action of an enzyme in the liver that makes triglycerides
3) Inhibit HMG-CoA reductase in the liver

Patented combination of citrus PMFs and alpha, delta and gamma tocotrienols derived from palm fruit (U.S. patents #6,251,400, and #6,239,114). Palm tocotrienols have been shown to inhibit HMG CoA reductase, the enzyme responsible for regulating cholesterol synthesis in the liver. Clinical studies in both animals and humans support Sytrinol’s role in reducing total and LDL-cholesterol as well as triglycerides.

Plant Sterols
Blood cholesterol is derived from the diet and synthesized in the liver. Sterols work by reducing the absorption of both forms of cholesterol – Sterols compete with cholesterol for absorption. Sterols and sterol esters can now be found in many foods including orange juice, rice drink, and margarine.

Pomegranate
Recent science has been focusing on the cardioprotective aspects of pomegranate. These brightly colored fruits contains numerous cornpounds known for their antioxidant capabilities, induding anthocyanidins, catechins, tannis, and gallic and ellagic acids. Research has shown that supplementation with pomegranate juice can decrease macrophage lipid accumulation, and cellular cholesterol accumulation in mice. Recently, research in humans has confirmed a beneficial effect of consuming pomegranate juice on parameters such as LDL oxidation, blood pressure, and blood vessel health.

In human clinical studies involving hypercholesterolemic subjects, no side effects were observed and four weeks of supplementing with a daily dose of 300 mg of Sytrinol.

See further information on recommended dosing on the NYBC website:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?products_id=284

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice has become a very popular new drink among the health-conscious in the last few years. Indeed there is an interesting body of research about this fruit, including indications that it may help lower “bad [LDL] cholesterol,” or that it may slow progression of prostate cancer. One caution, however: pomegranate juice may interact with certain drugs, in particular blood pressure-lowering drugs. For that reason, it’s advisable for anyone taking prescription drugs to consult with their health care provider before adding pomegranate juice to their daily routine.

NYBC stocks a pomegranate juice concentrate, which can be mixed with other beverages. Using a concentrate such as this can be significantly less costly than buying the well-known juice brands from your local grocery or health food store.

Here’s the basic NYBC entry:

Pomegranate Juice CONCENTRATE (Jarrow) Each bottle, 12 oz (355 ml) of 100% pomegranate juice concentrate. This is one of the most powerful sources of antioxidants, superior even to blueberries and strawberries. Derived from a California variety, this juice is concentrated to a level of 4 times that of ordinary pomegranate juice…it is thick! The antioxidants found in the juice include ellagic and gallic acid, anthocyanins and tannins, and punicalagin. Punicalagin is perhaps the most powerful. Various studies suggest that this may help to improve the level of glutathione in cells (see the entries on NAC and glutathione), particularly macrophages. It may have benefit for maintaining platelet levels, lowering LDL and sustaining vascular tone.

You can read more in the full entry:

Pomegranate Juice Concentrate (Jarrow)

Cardio-Edge (Douglas Labs): a plant sterol, Sytrinol and pomegranate-based supplement to maintain cardiovascular health and support healthy cholesterol levels

The NYBC co-op has recently added this item in the category of cholesterol management. For a while now we have been interested in the potential of plant sterols for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and we noted that our well-regarded supplier Douglas had formulated a supplement that incorporates both plant sterols and two other plant-based components that show a potential benefit in cholesterol management.


Cardio-Edge (Douglas Labs). Cardio-Edge is designed to help maintain cardiovascular health and support healthy cholesterol levels. Its significant components are:

Plant sterols (phytosterols) from soy – 200 mg
Sytrinol – 75 mg
Standardized pomegranate extract (fruit; standardized to 40% ellagic acid) – 25 mg

Plant Sterols
Blood cholesterol is derived from the diet and synthesized in the liver. Sterols work by reducing the absorption of both forms of cholesterol–sterols compete with cholesterol for absorption. Sterols and sterol esters can now be found in many foods including orange juice, rice drink, and margarine.

Sytrinol
This is a proprietary extract of polymethoxylated flavones and tocotrienols from citrus and palm fruits. Sytrinol is intended to have the following effects, some of which you can monitor with routine bloodwork to assess its effect for you. These include:

1) Decrease apoprotein B, needed for LDL synthesis
2) Decrease action of an enzyme in the liver that makes triglycerides
3) Inhibit HMG-CoA reductase in the liver

Sytrinol includes a patented combination of citrus PMFs and alpha, delta and gamma tocotrienols derived from palm fruit. Palm tocotrienols have been shown to inhibit HMG CoA reductase, the enzyme responsible for regulating cholesterol synthesis in the liver. Clinical studies in both animals and humans support Sytrinol’s role in reducing total and LDL-cholesterol as well as triglycerides.

In human clinical studies involving hypercholesterolemic subjects, no side effects were observed with four weeks of supplementing with a daily dose of 300 mg of Sytrinol.

Pomegranate
Recent science has been focusing on the cardioprotective aspects of pomegranate. This brightly colored fruit contains numerous cornpounds known for their antioxidant capabilities, including anthocyanidins, catechins, tannins, and gallic and ellagic acids. Research has shown that supplementation with pomegranate juice can decrease macrophage lipid accumulation and cellular cholesterol accumulation in mice. Recently, research in humans has confirmed a beneficial effect of consuming pomegranate juice on parameters such as LDL oxidation, blood pressure, and blood vessel health.

Please let us know if you have questions or comments about this new item on the NYBC list–emails are welcomed at contact@newyorkbuyersclub.org.