Regular consumption of pomegranate extract reduces feelings of hunger

Participants who took a supplement of pomegranate ate on average 22% less than the control group, study shows

It has been hailed as a superfood due to being rich in disease-preventing antioxidants.

And now pomegranate appears to have an extra benefit - it cuts hunger pangs.

Scientists say regular consumption of pomegranate extract may reduce feelings of hunger, while increasing the sensation of being full.

Volunteers who took a pomegranate supplement daily for three weeks reported feeling significantly less hungry during the experiment than those who had a placebo instead

When given a plate of food as part of the trial, those who had been taking the extract ate an average of 22 per cent less than those in the control group, but reported greater enjoyment of the food.

A total of 29 volunteers took part in the study carried out by Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Half the group took a pomegranate extract, containing the skin, pith and seeds of the fruit, every day for three weeks and the rest took a placebo tablet.

After three weeks, each volunteer drank a glass of pomegranate juice before sitting down to a meal of pasta with tomato sauce.

Before eating and at 15-minute intervals for up to two hours afterwards, the participants recorded their feelings of hunger, desire to eat, fullness and satisfaction in a questionnaire widely used in scientific studies to measure feelings and attitudes.

The pomegranate extract group felt less hungry (by an average of 12 per cent), had less desire to eat (21 per cent), felt fuller (16 per cent) and more satisfied (15 per cent).

They also ate an average of 447 grammes of the pasta meal compared with 574 grammes for the control group, or 22 per cent less.

They also rated their food as more tasty than the other group.

The research team now plans to do a further study to try to determine why the extract has the 'satiety' effect. One theory is that it contains polyphenols which are thought to act as an appetite suppressant.

The pomegranate extract tested was PurePlus, a highly concentrated supplement which is the only one in the UK to contain the pith, peel and skin of the pomegranate.

Findings from the study are due to be presented at the International Congress of Nutrition Conference in Granada, Spain, later this year.

Previous studies have shown that pomegranate juice can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and combat middle-aged spread.

Dr Emad Al-Dujaili, who lead the research, said: 'We and other researchers have shown that pomegranates contain potent antioxidants that can neutralise free radicals better than red wine, green tea and commonly consumed juices.

'Pomegranate juice intake can cause a reduction in blood pressure and insulin resistance. The present study shows that pomegranate extract can promote satiety by reducing hunger and desire to eat and enhancing fullness and satisfaction'

'These results indicate that pomegranate extract consumption may have the potential to assist in the challenge of reducing risk factors for overweight and obesity.

The research team plan to back up the pilot study with wider research.