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Other common name(s): certain phytochemicals may be called antioxidants, flavonoids, flavanols, flavanones, isoflavones, catechins, epicatechins, anthocyanins, anthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins, isothiocyanates, carotenoids, allyl sulfides, polyphenols, phenolic acids, and many other names.
The term “phytochemicals” refers to a wide variety of compounds made by plants, but is mainly used to describe those compounds that may affect human health. Phytochemicals are found in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. Scientists have identified thousands of phytochemicals, although only a small fraction have been studied closely. Some of the better-known phytochemicals include beta carotene and other carotenoids, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), folic acid, and vitamin E.
Some phytochemicals have either antioxidant or hormone-like actions. There is some evidence that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and other diseases. Researchers are looking for specific compounds in these foods that may account for these healthful effects in humans. Available scientific evidence does not support claims that taking phytochemical supplements is as good for long-term health as consuming the fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains from which they are taken.
The polyphenols include a large subgroup of chemicals called flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant chemicals found in a broad range of fruits, grains, and vegetables. They are being studied to find out whether they can prevent chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The isoflavones found in foods and supplements such as soy products, red clover, garbanzo beans, and licorice and the lignans found in flaxseed and whole grains might mimic the actions of the female hormone estrogen (see Licorice and Soybean). These seemingly estrogen-like substances from these plant sources are called phytoestrogens. They may play a role in the development of and protection against some hormone-dependent cancers such as some types of breast and prostate cancer.


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Polyphenols are a specific type of chemical compounds and they can be found in almost all different types of plants. They are very important because they provide the human body with numerous health benefits. Polyphenols have multiple phenol units per molecule and the most common types of polyphenols include flavonoids, resveratrol, phenolic acid, quertecin, catechins, isoflavones and anthocyanins. It is not a rare case that a certain health benefit of some types of vegetables and fruits are attributed to certain types of polyphenols. Link

There are many different types of food which contain large amounts of polyphenols, but the most important sources commonly include green tea and different types of vegetables and fruits.

The best vegetable sources of polyphenols include cabbage, celery, broccoli, parsley and onion.

The best fruit sources of polyphenols include strawberries, plums, blueberries, pears, blackberries, grapes, cranberries, cherries, acai berries, pomegranates, apples and raspberries.

Other types of important food sources of polyphenols include red wine, peanuts, coffee, pecans, tea, pistachios, chocolate, hazelnuts, olive oil, almonds and walnuts.

Polyphenols cannot be purchased in any supplemental form; they can only be ingested by consuming food types mentioned above.


Lowering bad cholesterol. According to research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the antioxidants in pomegranates may reduce oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol) in mice. It lowers LDL levels and increase HDL (good cholesterol).

A study published this week in the journal Carcinogenesis shows that in both cell lines and mouse models, grape seed extract (GSE) kills head and neck squamous cell , while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Eating pomegranates or drinking pomegranate juice may help prevent and slow the growth of some types of breast cancer. A new study shows a group of phytochemicals called ellagitannins found in abundance in pomegranates inhibited the growth of estrogen-responsive breast cancer in laboratory tests. Link

Pomegranate fruit comes from A deciduous shrub or small tree (Punica granatum) native to Asia.

Pomegranate has been found to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Pomegranate provides average adult user 16% of the daily Vitamin C requirements (per 100 ml serving) and Vitamin B-5 (panthothenic acid), potassium, and antioxidant polyphenols.

The double-blind study consisted of about 200 males with prostate cancer divided into two groups, one which took the supplement containing green tea, pomegranate, turmeric, and broccoli, and another which just took a placebo. After six months of taking three capsules a day, researchers found that prostate-specific antigen levels were almost 64 percent lower in the supplement group as opposed to their placebo counterparts. According to oncologist Robert Thomas, the study’s lead investigator, “Previous research has shown that the polyphenols and antioxidants in pomegranate, broccoli, green tea, and turmeric have individual anticancer properties, but ‘we believe there’s a synergistic effect in the supplement.’ ”

A new study shows that pomegranate juice may help fight hardening of the arteries. Researchers found that pomegranate juice not only appears to prevent hardening of the arteries by reducing blood vessel damage, but the antioxidant-rich juice may also reverse the progression of this disease.

Can pomegranates really help with erectile dysfunction? So far, several studies have indicated pomegranate or pomegranate juice has been beneficial. A rabbit study compared the effect of pomegranate extract antioxidants versus water on penile blood flow and erection ability. Investigators found that pomegranate significantly improved both of these factors, as well as smooth muscle relaxation (important for erectile function) when compared with placebo. Dietary antioxidants improve arteriogenic erectile dysfunction.

If a rabbit study isn’t convincing, a trial conducted with 53 men who had mild to moderate erectile dysfunction may be better. This was a crossover trial, which means all the men took pomegranate juice (for four weeks) and placebo (four weeks), with a two-week washout period in between. Erectile function improved in 42 men; for 25 of them, the improvement occurred after they drank pomegranate juice. Efficacy and safety of pomegranate juice on improvement of erectile dysfunction

Updated: 6-18-2013

Different parts of the pomegranate fruit have bioactive compounds (chemicals found in small amounts that have actions in the body that may promote good health). These include:

  • The peel, which makes up half the fruit and contains bioactive compounds such as phenolics, flavonoids, and ellagitannins (the main source of antioxidant activity);
  • The seeds, which contain punicic acid, an omega-5 fatty acid; and
  • The aril (outer layer surrounding the seeds), which contains phenolics and flavonoids including anthocyanins, which give the pomegranate fruit and juice their red color

A study of 13 pomegranate compounds showed some were able to slow the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells and to cause cell death. Higher doses were found to be more effective. Punicic acid (a bioactive compound found in pomegranate seeds) was shown to have the strongest effect in causing cell death. LINK

In a study of strains of mice created to develop prostate cancer that acts like human cancer, all mice that were given normal water for 28 weeks developed tumors. Only one-fifth to one-third of the mice that received pomegranate extract in water developed tumors, with the mice that received the highest amounts of pomegranate extract having the fewest tumors. LINK


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