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Punica granatum
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks." Song of Solomon

Type: Nourishing tonic

Properties: Cardio-tonic, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial

Part Used: The fruit/arils, or the juice (which includes the very medicinal constituents from the seeds and the skin)

Preparation and Dose: As little as two ounces of juice a day helps keep hearts healthy.

Pomegranate contains: Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, E, carotenes, biotin, and folates (folic acid); calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc; ellagic acid, punicalagins, polyphenols, fiber.

Cautions: None.

Pomegranate, known as the holy fruit or "forbidden apple," offers us a delicious way to lower blood pressure, counter plaque buildup in the blood vessels, reduce inflammation throughout the cardiovascular system and "significantly reduce the risks of atherosclerosis, stroke, and heart attack," according to current research.

Pomegranate juice is better than fresh pomegranate as it contains the important medicinal properties found in the seeds and skin of the pomegranate, parts rarely eaten when the fruit is consumed raw.

Pomegranate juice works through at least three pathways. First, it reduces oxidation stress throughout the cardiovascular system. Second, it supports the synthesis and activity of nitric oxide. Third, it inhibits oxidation of LDL, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation. In mice, "oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption..."

Statin drugs lower cholesterol, so they reduce LDL, but they do little to counter oxidation, the primary cause of blood vessel disease.

Pomegranate directly lowers cholesterol, but it is its antioxidant ability that is notable. The higher the LDL, the faster atherosclerosis develops. But it is oxidized LDL that is the real problem. Oxidized LDL damages the cells that line the coronary arteries, setting the stage for a heart attack. Oxidized LDL also impairs the ability of enzymes that produce nitric oxide, this, in turn, means the blood vessels cannot respond as quickly to change. Recent studies confirm pomegranate's ability to reduce oxidant-related cellular changes and to "markedly impede the progression of atherosclerosis."

It is not only perfectly safe to drink pomegranate juice while taking a statin, but doing so has been shown to increase the effectiveness of the statin drug. So much so, that a lower dose of statin can be used, meaning less side effects and greater protection for the heart.

Nitric oxide scavenges reactive oxygen, prevents LDL oxidation, deters the adhesion and aggregation of blood cells and platelets, inhibits the proliferation of smooth muscle cells throughout the vascular system, and improves the health of the endothelial cells which line the blood vessels. Pomegranate juice supercharges these effects, while directly improving nitric oxide synthesis and use.

Drinking as little as a cup of pomegranate juice daily can decrease atherosclerotic lesions in the common carotid artery by 35%. (The lesions increased by 9% in the control group.)

One of pomegranate's best qualities is its ability to effectively prevent the overgrowth of muscle cells in blood vessel walls. This overgrowth contributes to high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and plaque formation.

Numerous studies confirm pomegranates heart healthy abilities, like this one in Pub Med from the National Institues of Health.

Daily use of 2 or more ounces of pomegranate juice daily can reduce systolic blood pressure in as little as two weeks. Consuming up to two cups a day can lower systolic pressure by as much as 21%. 

High blood pressure literally erodes the blood vessels, damaging them and creating inflammation. Pomegranate counters the inflammation and heals the damage.

Pomegranate juice decreases the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). Drugs that inhibit ACE activity are commonly used to treat hypertension; pomegranate juice may be a better choice. No interactions are reported from combined use, but smaller amounts of the drug can usually be used.

Preliminary evidence suggests that pomegranate keeps the carotid arteries clear of fatty deposits and helps counter hardening of the arteries. It certainly has been shown to improve blood flow to the heart.

Pomegranate not only prevents blood vessel disease, it counters it as well. In a study of people with established coronary heart disease and cardiac ischemia (insufficient blood flow to the heart muscle), those who were randomly assigned to drink 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily showed a significant improvement in blood flow to the heart muscle. (The placebo group worsened.)

Pomegranate juice quenches free radicals at least three times better than other celebrated antioxidant foods and vitamins including wine, blueberries, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Don't take a vitamin pill, drink some pomegranate juice.


Festive Pomegranate Cordial Recipe

It looks good. It tastes good. And it gets the hormones flowing. 

Freeze one whole ripe pomegranate for 2-3 hours. Cut in half with a sharp knife.

Then cut in quarters.

Remove seeds and arils (the red part) and discard the peel and membrane.

Freezing does make this step much easier but it also makes it juicier, so have a bowl of warm water handy for dipping your hands into, and keep the counter wiped, as pomegranate juice can stain.

Choose a jar slightly larger than you think you may need for the amount of pomegranate you have. Fill the jar no more than ¾ full with pomegranate arils and seeds.

Add 100 proof vodka. Fill it to the level of the pomegranate, no further.

Then add 9-12 tablespoonfuls of sugar to the pomegranate/vodka mix. I used evaporated organic cane juice. But any light sweetener could be used, including maple syrup, agave syrup, rice syrup, honey . . .  

Label and date?

Shake shake shake. Shake your cordial. The sugar does not want to combine with the vodka, so shake, shake, shake.

Asking Quan Yin to bless the cordial helps, I am sure. 

Continue to shake every hour or so, until the sugar finally dissolves. This may take several days of effort. Label and date

Your holiday cordial is ready to drink when you are ready to drink it; but the longer it sits, the better it tastes.

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