To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers made use of rats that they divided into six groups. The first group served as the negative control group, while the rest were injected with isoproterenol, a “well-known cardio-toxic agent,” over the course of three days. Following this, the rats from the third to sixth groups were given fresh pomegranate juice (group 3), propolis extract (group 4), fresh pomegranate juice and propolis extract (group 5), or glyceronitrate, a heart failure medication (group 6) for 30 days. The investigative team then collected blood samples from the rats at the conclusion of the experiment period.
All the rats who had been administered isoproterenol demonstrated an increase in the activities of the enzymes aspartate transaminase (AST), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), creatine kinase (CK), and cardiac troponin I (CnI). This was noted as being indicative of heart muscle damage, as it allowed the enzymes to seep into the serum. Across all the rat groups who'd been given pomegranate juice and/or propolis extract, the researchers found no notable differences in the AST and LDH levels when compared with the group that wasn't treated. However, there were marked improvements in CK and CnI levels, though these were more apparent in the rats who'd received both pomegranate juice and propolis extract.
The researchers believe this to be the result of antioxidant activity. Propolis, in particular, is known to contain over 300 active constituents that include flavonoids, phenolic acids, and amino acids. This amalgamation of beneficial substances has led to propolis gaining a reputation for being “anti-tumor, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and immune-stimulant.”
Pomegranates are equally substantial in terms of antioxidant content. The peel and juice of these fruits contain concentrated amounts of punicalagins, which are powerful antioxidants. It's believed that the potency of punicalagins is such that their antioxidant activity is far greater than that of green tea and wine.
As a result, the researchers have concluded that both pomegranate juice and propolis reduced the oxidative stress that would have otherwise increased the risk of heart attack among the rats. (Related: Diet high in antioxidants slashes heart disease risk in women.)
Heart muscle tissue samples appeared to support this. Disorganized cardiac muscle structure, irregularly thickened coronary walls, and narrow lumen or vessel interiors characterized the heart muscles of the untreated rats from the second group. By contrast, the pomegranate juice and propolis extract rats had normal heart structures and coronary arterial wall thickness. Meanwhile, the group that had been administered both displayed a “marked improvement in structure of the heart tissue with perfective thickness of the wall with moderate lumen without cholesterol deposition.”
Thus, the researchers concluded their study by recommending propolis and pomegranate juice to help decrease the chances of heart attacks.
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