Pomegranate: a fruit that ameliorates metabolic syndrome
Pomegranate is an ancient fruit that is still part of the diet in the Mediterranean area, the Middle East, and India. Health-promoting effects have long been attributed to this fruit. Modern research corroborates the use of pomegranate as a folk remedy for diabetes and metabolic syndrome, and is responsible for a new evaluation of nutritional and pharmaceutical aspects of pomegranate in the general public. In the last decade, industry and agricultural production have been adapted to meet higher market demands for pomegranate. In vivo and in vitro studies have demonstrated that pomegranate exerts hypoglycaemic effects, including increased insulin sensitivity, inhibition of [small alpha]-glucosidase, and impact on glucose transporter type 4 function, but is also responsible for a reduction of total cholesterol, and the improvement of blood lipid profiles, as well as anti-inflammatory effects through the modulation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor pathways. These effects may also explain how pomegranate-derived compounds function in the amelioration of adverse health effects caused by metabolic syndrome. Pomegranate contains polyphenols such as ellagitannins and anthocyanins, as well as phenolic acids, fatty acids and a variety of volatile compounds. Ellagitannins are some of the most prevalent compounds present in pomegranate, and may be responsible for certain benevolent characteristics associated with pomegranate. A brief overview of rising health problems due to obesity will be provided, followed by characterisation of the biological activity, bioavailability, and safety of pomegranate and pomegranate-derived compounds. Although the fruit is consumed in many countries, epidemiological and clinical studies are unavailable. Additional research is necessary to corroborate the promise of current in vivo and in vitro findings.