Robert E. Smith, PhD
Park University, Parkville, MO, US
US FDA, Lenexa, KS, US
Series: Food and Beverage Consumption and Health
The pomegranate is a beloved plant and fruit that has been used in ancient times. The raw fruit, juice, peels and flowers were used as medicines. The botany, genetics, cultivation and postharvest treatment of pomegranates are discussed, along with the production of juices and extracts. Previously published reports on the biochemical composition of each part of the pomegranate are described. This is followed by a list of potential health effects. Many of these articles described the health effects of extracts of pomegranates because (until recently) few journals would publish articles that described the effects of whole foods.
Based on reductionist thinking, this approach required investigators to isolate individual active ingredients. So, the book starts with an introduction that compares and contrasts reductionist and systems thinking. In reductionist thinking the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, while in systems thinking and traditional medicine, individual parts can act synergistically to cause health effects. Modern medicine is becoming a fusion of traditional and western medicine. Math, physics, chemistry and engineering are used to do modern analyses of individual parts of the patient and his or her diseases. At the same time, the traditional methods are used to observe nature and look for the relationships between ions, molecules, cells, organs and organisms. Moreover, medicine is becoming predictive, preventive, personalized and participatory. It uses genomic and metabolomic data to predict a person’s susceptibility to diseases and then provide advice on how to treat or cure the diseases. It is personalized for each individual.
Patients are encouraged to participate in making decisions about their own treatments, including their diet. So, hard scientific data from previously published articles are used in this book to describe the biochemical composition and potential health effects of pomegranates. At the same time, the results are interpreted based on the author’s experience in analytical chemistry. For example, most researchers use inadequate procedures to extract bioactive phenolic compounds that have antioxidant properties in vitro (in test tubes). Instead, pressurized liquid extraction at elevated temperature and pressure can solubilize much more material. So, almost all previously published papers on pomegranates and products made from them underestimate the concentrations of biochemicals in them and their health effects. So, pomegranates and products made from them may be useful in preventing obesity and smoldering inflammation, which can lead to autoimmune diseases, type-2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and many forms of cancer.
The molecular mechanisms by which pomegranates exert their health effects are mentioned briefly at first and then discussed in more detail in the Appendix, which also includes background information on chemistry, biochemistry and the diseases that pomegranates may help to prevent or treat. In addition, pomegranates can also be used to make magnetic hydrogels and nanoparticles for industrial and biomedical applications. They may also be used to desalinate water by magnetic-field induced heating and forward osmosis. A pomegranate peel extract can be used to make pomegranate mono-dispersed gold nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery with enhanced therapeutic efficacy and minimal side effects. (Imprint: Nova)