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Research confirms the power of a simple dietary change in improving memory problems in middle-aged and older adults
In a study titled, "Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints," thirty-two subjects with self-reported memory complaints were randomly assigned to drink 8 ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for 4 weeks, receiving memory testing, functional MRI scans (fMRI), and blood draws for peripheral biomarkers before and after the intervention.
After 4 weeks, only the pomegranate group showed significant improvement in verbal memory scores and plasma antioxidant levels. Furthermore, compared to placebo, the pomegranate group showed increased fMRI activity during verbal and memory tasks, indicating pomegranate juice consumption results in increased blood flow to critical task-related brain regions.
This is not the first study to identify a brain-beneficial effect to pomegranate juice, as a sizable body of animal research already exists demonstrating it has neuroprotective properties against aluminum-, stroke-,  and glucose deprivation-associated neurotoxicity, and may also inhibit the formation of pathological plaques and the over-excitation of microglial cells associated with Alzheimer's disease.  
Pomegranate, in fact, is capable of unclogging and tonifying the cardiovascular system, which is especially important when it comes to brain health, and so-called vascular dementia. In fact, in a previous article titled, "How To Clean Your Arteries with One Simple Fruit," I report on the ability of pomegranate juice to regress blockages within the carotid arteries of patients.
There is also its well-known age-defying ability to prevent adverse changes associated with the exhaustion of ovarian function. In a previous article, "Amazing Fact: Pomegranate Can Function as a Back-up Ovary," we looked at animal research explaining how this legendary food, traditionally linked with regeneration and immortality, may provide an alternative to bioidenticial and synthetic hormone replacement therapies.
As the research community continues to explore the potential role of so-called 'medicinal foods' in improving quality of life and preventing and/or treating diseases that are largely refractory to conventional drug-based interventions, we can rest assured that pomegranate will continue to play a central role in the rediscovery of food as medicine.
While much of the research is preliminary, an increasingly robust body of human clinical research indicates that pomegranate has a wide range of potential health benefits, including:
- Improve Pregnancy/Birth Outcomes: Pomegranate juice has been found to potentially protect the unborn fetus by reducing oxidative stress in the placenta.
- Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis: Pomegranate juice reduces disease activity and oxidative stress in rheumatoid patients.
- Improve Heart Disease: Pomegranate juice has been found to have anti-atherogenic properties by reducing oxidative stress, including LDL cholesterol oxidation.
- Fights Prostate Cancer: Pomegranate juice has been found to prolong prostate doubling, as well as inhibit the proliferation and increase programmed cell death in the prostates of men with prostate cancer.
- Contributes to Weight Loss: Pomegranate juice was found to contribute to a reduction in weight, without decreasing insulin sensitivity like other commonly used sources of 'sugar.'
For additional research on pomegranate's wide range of health benefits, visit our pomegranate research page: Pomegranate Health Benefits, wherein you will find primary literature study abstracts on its value in over 100 potential health conditions.
 Ahmed E Abdel Moneim. Evaluating the potential role of pomegranate peel in aluminum-induced oxidative stress and histopathological alterations in brain of female rats. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2012 Dec ;150(1-3):328-36. Epub 2012 Sep 5. PMID: 22945624
 David J Loren, Navindra P Seeram, Risa N Schulman, David M Holtzman. Maternal dietary supplementation with pomegranate juice is neuroprotective in an animal model of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. Pediatr Res. 2005 Jun ;57(6):858-64. Epub 2005 Mar 17. PMID: 15774834
 Tim West, Madeliene Atzeva, David M Holtzman. Pomegranate polyphenols and resveratrol protect the neonatal brain against hypoxic-ischemic injury. Dev Neurosci. 2007 ;29(4-5):363-72. PMID: 17762204
 Fatemeh Forouzanfar, Amir Afkhami Goli, Elham Asadpour, Ahmad Ghorbani, Hamid Reza Sadeghnia. Protective Effect of Punica granatum L. against Serum/Glucose Deprivation-Induced PC12 Cells Injury. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013 ;2013:716730. Epub 2013 Jul 7. PMID: 23935674
 Richard E Hartman, Aartie Shah, Anne M Fagan, Katherine E Schwetye, Maia Parsadanian, Risa N Schulman, Mary Beth Finn, David M Holtzman. Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Dec ;24(3):506-15. Epub 2006 Sep 28. PMID: 17010630
 Soo Jung Choi, Ju-Hyun Lee, Ho Jin Heo, Hong Yon Cho, Hye Kyung Kim, Chang-Ju Kim, Myeong Ok Kim, Soo Hwan Suh, Dong-Hoon Shin. Punica granatum protects against oxidative stress in PC12 cells and oxidative stress-induced Alzheimer's symptoms in mice. J Med Food. 2011 Jul-Aug;14(7-8):695-701. Epub 2011 Jun 1. PMID: 21631359
 Lalida Rojanathammanee, Kendra L Puig, Colin K Combs. Pomegranate polyphenols and extract inhibit nuclear factor of activated T-cell activity and microglial activation in vitro and in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer disease. J Nutr. 2013 May ;143(5):597-605. Epub 2013 Mar 6. PMID: 23468550
 Baosheng Chen, Methodius G Tuuli, Mark S Longtine, Joong Sik Shin, Russell Lawrence, Terrie Inder, D Michael Nelson. Pomegranate juice and punicalagin attenuate oxidative stress and apoptosis in human placenta and in human placental trophoblasts. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Feb 28. Epub 2012 Feb 28. PMID: 22374759
 Alexandra Balbir-Gurman, Bianca Fuhrman, Yolanda Braun-Moscovici, Doron Markovits, Michael Aviram. Consumption of pomegranate decreases serum oxidative stress and reduces disease activity in patients with active rheumatoid arthritis: a pilot study. Isr Med Assoc J. 2011 Aug ;13(8):474-9. PMID: 21910371
 M Aviram, L Dornfeld, M Rosenblat, N Volkova, M Kaplan, R Coleman, T Hayek, D Presser, B Fuhrman. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May ;71(5):1062-76. PMID: 10799367
 Allan J Pantuck, John T Leppert, Nazy Zomorodian, William Aronson, Jenny Hong, R James Barnard, Navindra Seeram, Harley Liker, Hejing Wang, Robert Elashoff, David Heber, Michael Aviram, Louis Ignarro, Arie Belldegrun. Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. Forsch Komplementmed. 2007 Feb;14(1):39-44. Epub 2007 Mar 6. PMID: 16818701
 Manuel González-Ortiz, Esperanza Martínez-Abundis, María C Espinel-Bermúdez, Karina G Pérez-Rubio. Effect of pomegranate juice on insulin secretion and sensitivity in patients with obesity. Ann Nutr Metab. 2011 ;58(3):220-3. Epub 2011 Jul 28. PMID: 21811060
Originally published: 2013-08-24
Article updated: 2019-03-01