Antioxidants are important substances that we need.
These substances help to fight against certain toxins in the body. These toxins are free radicals. They cause damage to several parts of the body.
Free radicals link to severe diseases. The presence of free radicals causes inflammatory triggers in the body. Studies have also linked free radicals to cancer1.
Many substances have been researched for their antioxidant activity. One particularly potent option is ellagic acid. This natural chemical is in many foods – including some that we use in dishes daily.
In this post, we look at what ellagic acid is. We will also consider how it helps and what the health benefits of this antioxidant are.
The post will also provide an overview of the best foods to eat to increase the consumption of ellagic acid.
What Is Ellagic Acid?
Ellagic acid is a natural chemical in certain foods. It is also classified as a phenolic compound. Sometimes, it is rather referred to as a polyphenol antioxidant.
It is also a micronutrient that plays a few essential roles in the human body. There are many other types of phenolic compounds too. Gallic acid is one example – which also plays a role as an antioxidant in the body. The antioxidant capacity of ellagic acid is generally impressive.
There is an alternative form of ellagic acid. This is a more complex version of the compound and called ellagitannin. When a person eats foods with ellagitannin, their body will convert it into the acid.
The main benefit of this substance relates to its antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of ellagic acid help to protect the body against free radicals. This helps to minimize oxidation in cells. We know free radicals can cause cellular damage. These compounds also link to a risk of DNA damage.
With this in mind, the primary role of ellagic acid is to protect normal cells and DNA against damage caused by these free radicals. This is an essential antioxidant activity that ellagic acid consumption may contribute to.
Certain plants produce ellagic acid to protect themselves. It is a natural defensive mechanism for these plants. The production of ellagic acid helps to protect the plants against pests, as well as insects.
When these plants produce ellagic acid, people can consume them to gain the benefits of this potent antioxidant.
There are quite a few studies on the subject. Ellagic acid links to a large number of potential benefits. In addition to helping protect against free radicals, there are other benefits that the plant-based compound may bring to the body.
At the moment, we do not know the safety profile of ellagic acid. We need more scientific studies to help medical experts understand if it can be used over a long time without any serious side effects. While there are some dosage recommendations available, we need more research to provide more data on the safest long-term dose for the compound.
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What Foods Contain Ellagic Acid?
There are a few ways to add ellagic acid to a person’s diet. One of the most preferred methods is through diet. This makes it possible to obtain it through a more natural state.
Many of these foods contain a complicated version of ellagic acid. In such a case, the body needs to convert it into the acid first. The concentration absorbed by the body may not be as great. Still, it is useful to add a combination of these foods to a person’s daily diet.
Below is a list of foods containing high amounts of dietary ellagic acid. This makes them the best option for people who want to add more of this natural compound to their diet.
- Pecan nuts
- Beefsteak fungus
- Pomegranate (and pomegranate juice)
A great thing about including these foods in a diet is that they will not only contribute to increasing the consumption of ellagic acid. These foods contain other nutrients and natural compounds too. This means a person can benefit from the additional plant chemicals, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds found in these plant foods.
Ellagic Acid Benefits
In this section, we take a closer look at the potential benefits of ellagic acid. We also consider what research papers say about these benefits.
Cancer is a prevalent disease. It places a significant burden on the public health system. Cancer also claims the lives of many people every year. Different types of cancers can develop. Among men, one of the most common types of disease is prostate cancer. This happens when tumor cells develop in the prostate gland. It also causes problems with the standard cell cycle.
The prostate gland is a small, walnut-sized part of the reproductive system. It is responsible for producing a fluid mixed with sperm. This, in turn, creates semen – which expels from the penis during sex.
There is a strong link between oxidative damage in the body and cancer. Free radicals cause oxidative to cells. This includes the cells in the prostate. The damage happens gradually, but can eventually cause cells to become abnormal. When this happens, a person becomes at risk of developing cancer.
In the United States, more than 190,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually2. There are also over 30,000 deaths associated with prostate cancer in the country each year. Research also suggests that more than 10% of all men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their life. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are over the age of 65. This gives men a good idea of who may be at a higher risk for this type of cancer.
Several strategies have linked the use of antioxidant compounds to a lower risk of prostate cancer. Antioxidant compounds work against the free radicals involved in the formation of prostate cancer cells. These antioxidants also play a role in reducing the risk of other cancers in the body.
What The Studies Show
A few studies show that ellagic acid, in particular, may be effective at helping with the fight against cancer. The organic compounds may help to slow the growth of cancer cells. It is also a potent inhibitor of certain actions, reducing cancer risk at the same time.
There are two studies at the moment that show the compound may have anticarcinogenic properties.
One study was in 2014 (3). The study specifically focused on providing data on the anticarcinogenic properties that this acid possesses. The researchers note that ellagic acid as in vivo and in vitro actions that provide a cancer chemopreventive function. It is also worth noting that this is still a relatively new research subject. While studies show it can provide certain anti-cancer effects in the body, we still need further research.
At the moment, studies show ellagic acid reduces proliferation associated with cancer. This helps to reduce the degradation of chromosomal DNA. It also seems to induce an apoptosis effect in the human osteogenic sarcoma.
Another study (4) showed the potential anti-cancer properties of ellagic acid in a group of laboratory mice. The study focused on ellagic acid from pomegranate extract. While the study was conducted on mice, it still showed promising results. Scientists in the study report that they have found potential when using this acid as a compound in the treatment against cancer.
Ellagic acid may assist in reducing a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. In women, the risk of breast cancer could potentially reduce too. Colon cancer is also common. The effects might be effective here, as well.
Another key benefit of ellagic acid lies in its ability to reduce inflammation in the boy, possibly. There is a significant concern regarding inflammation in the general population.
Research studies have already shown that inflammation plays a role in the development of most chronic diseases. Many people suffer low-grade inflammation. Most people do not realize they have lower grade inflammation. Yet, the inflammation continues to cause gradual damage to the body.
There are a few studies that have looked at the anti-inflammatory properties of ellagic acid.
The antioxidant activity of this substance is the main reason why the compound seems to be effective against inflammation in the body. Free radical damage does not only cause cancer. It also leads to inflammatory triggers.
By reducing the effects of free radicals, ellagic acid may help to reduce inflammatory responses.
In one study (5), the research looks at how the use of ellagic acid may be useful for inflammation affecting the skin. Human skin cells and mice were considered in the study. The researchers looked at more than just the anti-inflammatory potential of ellagic acid. They also examined the effects of the compound on collagen production.
Collagen is an important compound in the body. It helps to keep the skin tight and supple.
A topical solution containing ellagic acid was used in the study. Hairless mice were administered with a topical solution and they were then exposed to UV light. The study lasted for a period of eight weeks.
Inflammation was effectively prevented in the mice exposed to the UV light. There was also a reduced breakdown of collagen compounds. This shows that this acid may provide a way of reducing the risk of inflammation too. Furthermore, when used as a topical product, it may also slow down the aging process effectively.
It also seems like ellagic acid may be a good option for people with obesity. Some research has suggested that the compound might help with the weight loss process. In turn, it poses as a potential natural anti-obesity treatment.
A majority of the American population is already either overweight or obese. This poses a significant range of health risks to these individuals. People who are obese have a much higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.
At the moment, research related to the anti-obesity properties of ellagic acid is limited to animal studies. They do, however, show that the compound has potential. Further studies are also being conducted to determine if the same effects will be present in human subjects.
Some studies also show this acid might reduce the level of resistin. These studies were on mice subjects. Resistin is a type of hormone that holds a link to obesity. It also links to diabetes and insulin resistance. By reducing the production of resistin, people may find that they can lose weight more effectively. The risk of developing insulin resistance, which can turn into diabetes, greatly reduces with the use of this acid.
We don’t know much about the side-effects of ellagic acid at the moment. Most studies only focus on providing data on the antioxidant properties of the compound. Some studies have also looked at additional benefits that come with the use of natural polyphenol.
At the moment, it is a relatively safe option. You can take it by mouth. It is also safe when applied to the skin; this data related to the short-term use of ellagic acid. We need further research on the effects of long-term use.
It is also important to note that there is not enough data to determine if it is safe for pregnant women to use ellagic acid. The same account for women who are breastfeeding a baby. With this in mind, it is generally advised that women rather stay safe. This means avoiding the use of ellagic acid during pregnancy and breastfeeding is a good idea. It is useful at least until we have further research on the subject.
No side-effects have been noted among studies when participants were provided with the compound over the short term.
Research shows ellagic acid is effective. One problem, however, is that the concentration in foods is often too low. This is why many people prefer to turn to supplements. Taking a supplement with ellagic acid helps to increase the concentration that goes into a person’s body. In turn, the person is able to experience more of the benefits associated with the compound.
Another problem is the fact that many foods do not contain specific polyphenol ellagic acid. Instead, they contain a more complex version of the compound. This is ellagitannin.
There may not be a sufficient conversion of the compound into ellagic acid due to the complexity of ellagitannin. In turn, the expected benefits may not be present.
Taking a supplement with ellagic acid already contains the simpler form of the antioxidant compound. This makes it easier for the body to absorb and use it. There is no need to convert ellagitannin into ellagic acid in this case.
Men who have prostate problems want to see if this acid can help have a few options to consider. One great option is to choose an overall prostate supplement that already contains the ingredient.
Ben’s Total Health for the Prostate Vegicaps is a preferred option among many men.
In addition to providing men with a high concentration of ellagic acid, Total Health also includes other ingredients. The combination of ingredients helps to improve the well-being of the prostate. It also helps to reduce the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia and other conditions.
There are a few supplements that only provide a dose of ellagic acid too. This can be a useful option when a person wants to see exactly how well the compound may work for them alone. It is important to consider the dosage of these products. A low dose may not provide effective results.
Ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant in many foods. Studies show the antioxidant can help fight against free radicals and toxins. It also helps to reduce inflammation and may even be effective at fighting against prostate cancer.
The concentration of the acid is relatively low in most foods. Taking a supplement with ellagic acid is a more effective way of taking advantage of the compound.
Find out 9 Best Prostate Supplements.