Move over broccoli, move over tomato puree. There’s a new star on the super-food firmament: pomegranate juice. According to in-vitro and animal studies, pomegranate juice may reduce arthritis and cancer, and there is even a human study that says that pomegranate juice protects men against impotence.
Researchers at the Turkish Firat University went one step better. They published the results of an experiment in which they show that pomegranate improves sperm quality and slightly raises the level of testosterone in rats.
The Turks’ main interest is artificial insemination and they want to know whether they can get better sperm to be produced by adjusting nutrition.
Every day for seven weeks the researchers fed the rats a little pomegranate juice through a tube in their mouth. A control group received only water; three pomegranate groups were given 0.25, 0.5 or 1 ml of pomegranate juice. The groups were called PJ-low, PJ-middle and PJ-high. The table below shows the improvement in the quality of the rats’ sperm after a seven-week juice diet.
Sperm cells themselves and the cells that make sperm and testosterone contain a lot of unsaturated fatty acids. These are susceptible to oxidation. Pomegranate juice, the researchers discovered, caused an increased production of natural anti-oxidants in the sperm and blood of the rats. These probably protect the vulnerable fatty acids against oxidation.
In both the blood and the sperm, the concentration of malondialdehyde – a marker for fat oxidation – decreased in the rats that got pomegranate juice. A natural anti-oxidant that increases considerably in concentration as the result of supplements is catalase.
That this protective effect against oxidation also has an effect on testosterone production is shown below
Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;27(2):289-96