24 January 2008

Pomegranate Juice & PCOS

PCOS (polycystic ovary/ovarian syndrome) is closely linked with diabetes and it is well established that women with uncontrolled PCOS have a much higher risk than the general population of arteriosclerosis, poor blood lipid levels, heart attack and stroke. Pomegranate juice has been shown to have a positive effect on blood lipids. So, should PCOSers run out to get pomegranate juice? It depends.

To evaluate pomegranate juice in tandem with PCOS, we must consider several factors. But before we get to that, let me say categorically that pomegranate juice will not 'fix' PCOS nor will it cause PCOS.

Pomegranate Juice reduces LDL cholesterol
On the pro side, we have good evidence* that whole** pomegranate juice has a beneficial effect on blood lipids, particularly LDL cholesterol, and does so without worsening blood levels in diabetics. There haven't been any significant studies (that I've found) on PCOS and pomegranate juice, so we shall have to use our deductive reasoning. We know that most PCOSers have similar insulin/glucose reactions to diabetics (in fact, it is fairly clear by now PCOS and diabetes are two facets of the same disease process.) Can we say then that PCOSers will also not suffer from worsening blood levels when consuming pomegranate juice? Probably.

Pomegranate juice has a higher GI and calorie count than more common fruit juices
Pomegranate juice could reduce some of the health risks associated with PCOS, but it's not a free ride. There are still calories and whatever we eat has some effect on our blood glucose/insulin (and by association testosterone and other androgens.) Can we reap the benefit without exacerbating the established problems? Yes, with some practical knowledge.

POM wonderful brand (no sugar added) pomegranate juice's glycemic index is 67, the glycemic load for 240ml is 26.8. It's worth noting that 240 ml is about 8 fluid ounces, 2/3 of a can of soda. One should also note that researchers saw a positive effect with a much smaller dose*. A GI of 67 is higher than the GI of apple, orange, grape, or grapefruit juices. This means pomegranate juice alone will have a faster effect on blood sugar than the other juices. But we can mitigate this effect by drinking our pomegranate juice at the same time as we have other low GI foods. For more information on the glycemic index, see their website or buy their brilliant books.

Fast Facts:

  • 240 ml (8 oz) pomegranate juice contains 160 calories. The same amount of orange juice has 110.
  • A therapeutic effect was demonstrated with a much smaller amount of pomegranate juice, 30 ml - which contains only 20 calories.
  • Pomegranate juice's relatively high GI can be mitigated by drinking the smaller amount and combining it with low GI foods.
  • The sugars in natural pomegranate juice were instrumental in the beneficial effect. A 'tablet' made of the polyphenols alone wouldn't be as powerful.
  • One study showed that women with PCOS are twice to four times more likely to have hardened plaque in their arteries (compared with non-PCOSers) and have significantly higher levels of LDL cholesterol. This result has been repeated many times.
Resources:
* Pomegranate juice (50ml/day for 3 months) reduces oxidative state of macrophages without worsening diabetic parameters in diabetic subjects.
** Pomegranate juice sugar fraction reduces macrophage oxidative state under diabetic parameters - white grape juice sugar fraction did not show similar effects.
Macrophage mediated oxidation of LDL cholesterol and artheriosclerosis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the 30ml dose that showed a benefit was of pomegranate juice concentrate. The 8 oz dose that shows benefit is for reconstituted pomegranate juice.