Can Pomegranate Juice Put a Halt to Middle-aged Spread?
IT CAN help prevent cancer, is good for your heart and can even boost your sex life.
If that wasn't enough to tempt you to drink some, it is now claimed that pomegranate juice can also help shift middle-age spread.
Scientists believe that the superfood has the power to reduce the fat stored round the stomach - the 'spare tyre' in men, or 'muffin top' in women.
After just one month, volunteers who consumed a bottle of pomegranate juice every day were found to be less likely to develop fatty cells around their abdomen.
They also had much lower blood pressure, therefore reducing their risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. The researchers from the University of Edinburgh believe pomegrate juice may lower the amount of fatty acid in the blood, known as nonesterified fatty acid or NEFA.
Previous studies in humans and animals have shown that high NEFA levels are linked to a greater storage of fat around the abdomen, as well as an increased risk of heart disease and type II diabetes.
In the experiment, 24 men and women were given a 500ml bottle of pomegranate juice to drink every day for four weeks.
The researchers found that nearly half of all volunteers had much lower NEFA levels by the end of the trial. They believe that this will make them less likely to store fat around their stomach.
In addition, more than 90 per cent of the men and women had lower blood pressure by the end of the month.
Dr Emad Aldujaili and Dr Catherine Tsang, lead researchers at Edinburgh University's School of Health Sciences said: 'There is no doubt that pomegranate juice is beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease because our results showed a significant and consistent lowering of blood pressure.' Dr Aldujaili added: 'There is early evidence that consumption of pomegranate juice may influence abdominal fat. 'We believe that these initial findings deserve more detailed study. The subjects in our latest study had a healthy body mass index, making the impact more difficult to observe.
'In future research we will investigate the effect on overweight or obese subjects in whom the effect may be more evident.' Dr Aldujaili will present his findings at the International Functional Food meeting at Oxford Brookes University next month.
It is already known that pomegranate juice is high in antioxidants, chemicals which help to neutralise harmful oxygen molecules called free radicals.
If left unchecked, these molecules can damage cells causing illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and resulting in the body aging more quickly.
The fruit is also thought to enhance the sex life, as the antioxidants increase the amount of blood flowing to the genitals.