We all know that the fruit and vegetables contain nutrients that are important for maintaining health and wellbeing but this week’s Nutrition News covers three studies that highlight the specific compounds of some of our most common fruit and veg that could be supporting our health without us knowing it.

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Research suggests that pomegranate supports eye health

In a recent study, researchers evaluated the role pomegranates could play in supporting eye health. The study, which was discussed by NutraIngredients, gives further evidence to the fruit’s potential in support eye healtht through its anti-inflammatory properties.

The study compared four conditions: negative control, positive inflammatory control with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) derived from Escherichia coli, positive anti-inflammatory control with LPS and dexamethasone, and LPS combined with pomegrante extract after 24 hours of culture. The results showed that the mean IL-8 level was significantly lower in the pomegranate extract condition (48.7 ± 5.1 pg/mL) compared to the LPS condition (172.7 ± 19.3 pg/mL) and the negative control (26.6 ± 1.2 pg/mL) (p < 0.05). The IL-8 level in the LPS plus dexamethasone condition (93.8 ± 8.7 pg/mL) did not show a significant difference (p = 0.165) when compared to the pomegranate extract condition.

These findings provide further evidence of the anti-inflammatory effects of pomegranate extract in an in vitro model of reconstituted corneal epithelial cells. The study suggests that pomegranate extract effectively modulates cytokine secretion, particularly IL-8, and enhances cell viability. Although the positive anti-inflammatory control with dexamethasone showed some inhibition of IL-8 release, the LPS plus pomegranate extract condition exhibited a greater percentage of inhibition.

However, the researchers acknowledge the limitations of the study, most specifically the small number of samples for the positive anti-inflammatory control. They highlighted the need for further research to validate these results and explore the potential application of pomegranate extract as an ocular anti-inflammatory agent. The promising findings of this study could have significant implications for eye health support.

How watermelon could support heart health

A new study published in Nutrients, discussed by Healthline, suggests that watermelon may be even more nutritious than previously believed. The study, which analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, found that consuming watermelon was associated with increased intake of essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, lycopene, and other carotenoids. This indicates that watermelon can improve nutrient intake and diet quality for both children and adults.

The findings align with previous research demonstrating the positive impact of fruit consumption on nutrient intake, but this study specifically focused on watermelon. In addition to promoting nutrient intake, individuals who consumed watermelon had lower intakes of added sugars and total saturated fatty acids.

Watermelon is known for being high in water content, low in fat, and as a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals.

The nutritional profile of watermelon includes 30 calories, 91% water, 0.6 grams of protein, 7.6 grams of carbohydrates, 6.2 grams of sugar, 0.4 grams of fiber, and 0.2 grams of fat per 2/3 cup (100 grams) of raw watermelon.

Watermelon's heart health supporting attributes are attributed to lycopene, a plant-based antioxidant responsible for the fruit's pink or red pigment.

To incorporate more watermelon into the diet, suggestions include replacing high-sugar desserts with watermelon, using it as a snack during physical activities for hydration, making watermelon slushies, and adding it to salads. Watermelon salad can be prepared by combining cubed watermelon, chopped cucumbers, crumbled feta cheese with fresh basil and mint leaves, then dressing with honey and lime juice. Watermelon can also be used to make salsa when mixed with mango, red onion, jalapeno, lime, and coriander.

While watermelon is a good source of lycopene, other foods such as tomatoes, papaya, guava, pink grapefruit, and sweet red peppers also contain this heart-supporting nutrient. It is recommended to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables to support overall heart health.

In addition to incorporating watermelon into the diet, it is beneficial to consume healthy fats, fibre-rich foods, and limit intake of added sugars, refined grains, and fried foods for optimal nutrition and heart health.

Garlic and onions for immune support in the elderly

Ageing poses challenges to the immune system and increases the vulnerability of older individuals to various illnesses if their immune system becomes compromised. As the global population of individuals over 65 continues to grow, there is a pressing need to improve the quality of life for older adults.

Residents of Residential Care Facilities (RCFs)  are at high risk of acquiring infections, particularly respiratory tract infections as a result of reduced immune function. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop preventive and therapeutic strategies to reduce the incidence and severity of respiratory infections in this vulnerable population.

Alliums, including garlic and onion, have been known for their immune system support for many years. These plants contain organosulfur compounds like allicin, PTS, and PTSO, which have demonstrated antimicrobial activity in studies.

To evaluate the impact of daily consumption of a combination of garlic and onion extract concentrate rich in organosulfur compounds, a study, reported by NutraIngredients in its Garlic and Onion Extract article, was conducted with healthy elderly volunteers living in a nursing home. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or the extract for 36 weeks. Clinical visits were conducted to assess respiratory tract infections, associated symptoms, and their duration. The results showed that the extract was clinically safe and significantly reduced the incidence of respiratory infections. It also decreased the number and duration of associated symptoms compared to the placebo group.

This study provides evidence for the immune system-supporting properties of garlic and onion among healthy elderly individuals.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.