Pomegranate extract – Master Chef Challenge update

For anyone following along with the pomegranate peel experiments  (previous post)- update, I had a lot of pomegranate extract thawed at the same time and for a dietitian that means reheat to steaming to assure food safety. So it was an opportunity to experiment some more with trying to adjust the acidity again. When baking soda is added to a hot acidic liquid there is an obvious bubbling reaction and change in color of the liquid. I have pH strips to check acidity and did manage to adjust the acidity of the extract. The taste is still not great but chronic illness and mood issues are not great either. After three cups of experimental attempts my mood is awesome *(see additional note) and I have some recipe details:

6 cups of pomegranate extract  (previous post)

2 Tablespoons Cardamom powdered spice

1 teaspoon Gumbo File powdered spice (Sassafras Leaves, powdered and used in Gumbo’s in Creole style cooking)

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

  1. Add the Cardamom and Gumbo File to the Pomegranate Extract and stir well to break apart any dry lumps of the powdered spices. The Gumbo File acts as an emulsifier and is a digestive aid and the Cardamom adds flavor, phytonutrients and would help alkalize the mixture in addition to the alkalizing power of the Baking Soda.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Add the Baking Soda and stir. Remove the mixture from the heat and keep stirring. It will froth up and stirring helps keep it from frothing over the top of the pan. The color changes from pinkish to brown from the Cardamom spice.
  4. To drink as a beverage dilute with equal parts water to Pomegranate Extract.

This would be an acquired taste – aka “not good” until you get used to it, or not good at all but the mood and health benefits are worth for me at least. It is also a diuretic which means it is like beer or coffee in the way it increases kidney activity and urine production so it is best to have it earlier in the day followed by plenty of glasses of water early in the day so that you aren’t waking up in the middle of the night as much. Overly acidic, dehydrated body fluids can increase work for the kidneys and result in a frequent feeling of needing to go urgently but then not producing much quantity – drink plenty of water early  in the day and produce plenty of dilute quantity early in the day and a diuretic can help cleanse toxins from the body instead of being a middle of the night problem.

Since pomegranate growing season is limited the powdered spice made from Sumac might be a health substitute. It has been shown to have a range of health benefits, and is also a diuretic. Its phytonutrients are similarly colored suggesting there might be some similar antioxidant content as well. The gallotannin group of phytonutrients are in common and would likely promote Nrf2. (More about Sumac in this post) (a series of posts on Nrf2)

To put a financial perspective on this – for my health needs the pomegranate extract or pomegranate seeds and cardamom powder and a few other good sources of phospholipids are adequate replacements for my medical marijuana which cost me around $1000-1200 per month. The medical effects are slightly different and not quite as good for pain killing properties but the negative psychological effects that can occur with withdrawal for some people are also not present.

To review – cannabinoids are a group of chemicals that are made within the cells of most species and are similar to the group of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plants commonly known as marijuana or hemp. Medical marijuana has a euphoria producing one known by the chemical initials THC while hemp has only non-euphoria producing cannabinoids. Both types can have medical or other basic health benefits. Cannabinoids are found throughout membranes and add to cell wall flexibility and help with messenger chemical type activities that can help reduce inflammation and fight infection. Some people such as myself can have genetic differences that make it impossible to make the chemicals internally as in average health. I have had minor health problems since infancy and having external dietary sources of phospholipids or cannabinoids helps my body and mood and immune system. More information about the topic is available in the post/article Is it Addiction or Starvation?

People with problems with binge eating disorders, alcohol abuse tendencies, meth or heroin/opioid abuse tendencies, or seem to have an excess use of marijuana, and nicotine to a lesser extent all may actually have underlying genetic differences that leave them in need of increased dietary sources of phospholipids/cannabinoids. The article Is It Addiction or Starvation? has some legal food sources in addition to pomegranate seeds and cardamom spice. It doesn’t mention the Middle Eastern spice Sumac but it might help also.

*Additional note – three cups was likely to large of a serving, an awesome mood for someone with unstable mood issues was too much of a good thing – Newton’s Law of Gravity may apply metaphorically, “What goes up must come down.” I had a worse mood problem later in the evening. Today (the next morning) I’ve enjoyed a few spoonfuls of the spicy, creamy slightly thickened mixture in my coffee and it is good to my “acquired taste.” The thing about having acquired an acquired taste for something is that you then want to acquire more – pun intended.  The pomegranate season in Australia turns out to also be November to March so that isn’t much help. Processing pomegranate peel during the growing season would be necessary if I hope to continue to be able to acquire pomegranate extract all year long. It has medicinal benefits according to the research that is available, (see links in earlier posts on this site).

New Zealand isn’t ideal for pomegranate either as the summer length may be too short some years, however their harvest season is February-April: “Pomegranates grow best in areas with cold Winters and long hot, dry Summers.” (Pomegranate Wonderful)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Ellagitannins and red raspberries

Prior to the research on pomegranates and ellagitannins research was being performed on the use of red raspberries for their health and anticancer benefits. The summary points are that the whole fruit, the mixture of a variety of phytonutrients provides the benefits and that an isolated singe phytonutrient may be less bioavailable and less bioactive – less chemically likely to provide benefits as the mixture of phytonutrients that the whole food provides. An article from 2001 discusses this in more detail and mentions that early work on pomegranates suggested they would be an even better source of the group of ellagitannins and other polyphenols.

The compounds when working together within the body seem to help make cancer cells stop dividing and start dying by apoptosis like normal cells would – and without having any toxic effects on other normal healthy cells. The ellagitannins and other phytonutrients in red raspberries also seemed to prevent precancerous cells from becoming cancerous – dividing at above average rate of growth.

Other health benefits of the whole fruit used as a fruit puree equivalent to eating one cup of red raspberries per day, providing 40 mg of ellagitannins, included:

“European medical studies also demonstrate that red raspberry ellagitannins lower the incidence of birth defects, promote wound healing, reduce heart disease, and may reduce or reverse chemically induced liver fibrosis. In addition, the ellagic acid produced from the ellagitannins has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.”

Read more: The Truth About Ellagic Acid and Red Raspberries,    https://jonbarron.org/article/truth-about-ellagic-acid-and-red-raspberries

Ellagitannins and pomegranates was a discussion begun in a previous post: Pomegranate polyphenols and Microglia M2 Activation. I didn’t include the information in my summary but one of the links mentions that whole pomegranate juice / juice made with the peel / provides about 2 grams per liter of ellagitannins which would be many times more than 40 milligrams. Two grams would be 2000 milligrams and a liter is slightly less than a quart which is four cups, so roughly the whole pomegranate juice/extract is providing 500 milligrams per cup. A cup of juice would be more concentrated, being a liquid, compared to a cup of loosely packed whole red raspberries with seeds and air space, so a cup of raspberry puree or red raspberry juice would likely provide more than 40 milligrams.

Black raspberries are a dark purple color were not mentioned in the 2001 article but a more recent study on cancer therapy from 2016 mentions them as a source of ellagic acid so they may have an equivalent amount of the beneficial phytonutrients.

Read more: Black raspberries in cancer clinical trials: Past, present and future.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5008867/

Blueberries and blackberries and other berries are good sources of a variety of beneficial phytonutrients. Many types have the most prevalent phytonutrients listed and extraction methods that are typically used for commercial products are discussed in this research review: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5384171/

A shorter article discussing phytonutrients found in blueberries, blackberries and raspberries in a more general way:   http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/symposium/lukehowardabstract.htm

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Pomegranate polyphenols and Microglia M2 activation

The short story is that pomegranate polyphenols activate a very strong positive defense mechanism against inflammation that may be less active in autism. Read more:

Pomegranate juice polyphenols induce a phenotypic switch in macrophage polarization favoring a M2 anti-inflammatory state. (1)

“Pomegranate juice given daily for 2 years to 40 prostate cancer patients with increasing PSA levels provides evidence for the possible utilization of a nontoxic option for prevention or delay of prostate carcinogenesis. It is remarkable that 85% of patients responded to pomegranate juice in this study.” Pomegranate Ellagitannins – Herbal Medicine, (4)

(Punicagilanin and other polyphenols from a group called ellagitannins are found in the pomegranate juice and more are available when the entire fruit is used to extract juice. The bioactive phytonutrients seem to start being excreted from the body within 12 hours based on clinical studies, so a daily intake would be required for consistent benefits. Pomegranate Ellagitannins – Herbal Medicine, (4))

The long story is best left to read on a website written by a doctor who is working with research on the role of endocannabinoids in autism, how they may be involved in the risk as well as treatment for patients with the condition.

  • Read more: What Glyphosate Does To Your Brain: (2), which is a continuation of an overview on the topic of the herbicide glyphosate, autism and an endogenous cannabinoid that acts on the CB2 receptors.
  • Read more: The Autism Brain, Glyphosate, and Super-Cannabinoid Production (3)
  • Glyphosate was originally produced as an antibiotic and mineral chelator and may affect many pathways in the body due to changes to enzyme and mineral access and due to its chemical similarity to an important amino acid, glycine, which can act as a brain neurotransmitter.

So the short story is our body needs endogenous cannabinoids to protect our brain and the brains of infants from inflammatory toxins and pomegranate polyphenols may be a substitute as well as the non-euphoric cannabinoid CBD which activates the CB2 receptors.

Other foods that also may provide some natural cannabinoids or polyphenols that affect the system beneficially may include the herb Rosemary, the spice Cardamom, and unrefined cocoa bean products such as dark chocolate and Baker’s Cocoa Powder or Baking Chocolate.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. Saar Aharoni, Yoni Lati, Michael Aviram, Bianca Furhman,  Pomegranate juice polyphenols induce a phenotypic switch in macrophage polarization favoring a M2 anti-inflammatory state. Biofactors, Volume 41, Issue 1, Jan/Feb 2015
    Pages 44–51  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/biof.1199/full (1)
  2. Christian Bogner, MD, What Glyphosate Does to Your Brain, Jan. 16, 2017, http://drbogner.com/glyphosate-vs-brain/ (2)
  3. Christian Bogner, MD, The Autism Brain, Glyphosate, and Super-Cannabinoid Production, Dec. 10, 2016, http://drbogner.com/glyphosate-autism-2/ (3)
  4. David Heber, Chapter 10: Pomegranate Ellagitannins,Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition., Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92772/ (4)