Polyphenols are the unsung heroes of bone health and overall health. These plant-derived compounds, mainly present in fruits, vegetables, and cereals, have a big impact on the bone building process.
Today we’ll look at a powerful polyphenol: ellagic acid. You’ll discover its health benefits, how you can get more of it in your diet, and we’ll review studies that prove ellagic acid helps to build stronger bones.
Polyphenols In A Nutshell
Polyphenols are antioxidant compounds found in edible plants. Different polyphenols are distinguished from one another by their molecular structure, which is characterized by conglomerations of phenols – hence the prefix poly, which means “many.” Phenols are a type of chemical compound composed of an oxygen-hydrogen bond (a hydroxyl group) bonded to a compound of hydrogen and carbon (a hydrocarbon).
This variable structure results in numerous varieties of polyphenols, each with their own actions in the human body. The main classes of polyphenols include phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes and lignans.
Polyphenols have been shown to protect against chronic health conditions, including asthma, infections, and cardiovascular disease, and some have been scientifically confirmed to have positive effects on bone health. Here are a few examples of the latter:
- Kaempferol: protects osteoblasts from toxins produced by bacteria
- Rutin: increases bone density by slowing down bone resorption
- Cyanidin: plays a role in determining which cells will become bone-building osteoblasts
- Myricetin: leads to osteoblast maturation and differentiation, and a subsequent increase in bone mass.
Polyphenols are healthful antioxidants found in plant foods, some of which have bone-building properties.
Ellagic Acid And Your Bones
Science has shown that ellagic acid can be added to the list of polyphenols that offer valuable benefits for bones. Researchers at the University of Athens in Greece studied the effects of the ellagic acid present in walnut extract on endothelial cells and osteoblastic activity.1
They found that when cells that make up human arteries were exposed to ellagic acid, they were less likely to develop vascular cell adhesion molecules that lead to cardiovascular disease.
The impact on osteoblasts was described in the study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, as follows:
“The present results suggest that the walnut extract has a high anti-atherogenic potential and a remarkable osteoblastic activity, an effect mediated, at least in part, by its major component ellagic acid. Such findings implicate the beneficial effect of a walnut-enriched diet on cardioprotection and bone loss.”1
The ellagic acid in walnuts protects arteries and bones. The good news is that, many other common foods also contain ellagic acid (more on that later).
Ellagic acid has been scientifically shown to stimulate “remarkable osteoblastic activity,” making it a healthy, natural, effective way to increase the production of new bone.
Other Benefits Of Ellagic Acid
The saying, “when it rains, it pours” comes to mind when considering this polyphenol. Not only does it offer the osteoblastic proliferation described above, but it also works on other systems of the body in beneficial ways.
We’re only just beginning to understand the anticarcinogenic effects of ellagic acid, but a 2014 study has cracked open its potential. Here’s a quote from that study detailing the plethora of ways it fights cancer:
“Recent in vitro and in vivo experiments have revealed that EA elicits anticarcinogenic effects by inhibiting tumor cell proliferation, inducing apoptosis, breaking DNA binding to carcinogens, blocking virus infection, and disturbing inflammation, angiogenesis, and drug-resistance processes required for tumor growth and metastasis.”2
A 2012 study found that ellagic acid reduced the amount of the hormone resistin in mice.4 Resistin is known to be the link between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. This is one way that ellagic acid attenuates obesity and ameliorates obesity-mediated metabolic complications like diabetes.5
A 2010 study on mice found that ellagic acid protects collagen in the skin from UV rays, which results in less wrinkles . Chronic UV exposure doesn’t just age your skin though, it also causes inflammation. Ellagic acid fights that inflammation by diminishing production of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1beta and IL-6, and blocking infiltration of inflammatory macrophages.3
Ellagic acid benefits more than just your bones. Studies have found that the polyphenol has anti-carcinogenic, anti-obesity, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Best Sources Of Ellagic Acid
Fortunately, ellagic acid is readily available in many common foods. Below is a list of the top sources of ellagic acid.
- Walnuts* are great as a topping or a snack. Walnut extract was the source of the EA in the study that proved its bone-building abilities.
- Raspberries* contain the highest concentration of ellagic acid. A 2010 study found that red raspberry extract, rich in the ellagitannins that the body turns into ellagic acid, significantly inhibited inflammation, cartilage damage, bone resorption, and the onset and severity of arthritis.6 That’s more proof of its efficacy.
- Strawberries* are an effective anti-inflammatory fruit, and they also contain the previously mentioned polyphenol kaempferol. Always buy organic strawberries, as conventionally grown strawberries are a top offender when it comes to toxic pesticide residue.
- Grapes* contain anti-inflammatory compounds like quercetin and Vitamin C. They also provide pain relieving phytochemicals including salicylic acid, kaempferol-glucosides, and ferulic acid. As is the case with strawberries, avoid getting conventional grapes since they contain high levels of pesticide residue.
- Pecans* provide no less than 12 Foundation Supplements in addition to being a delicious source ellagic acid and containing healthy fatty acids and bone-building antioxidants.
- Blackberries get their color from bone-healthy flavonoids, and aside from ellagic acid, they also contain the polyphenol cyanidin, mentioned earlier. In studies on rats, blackberries have also been shown to improve memory.7
- Cranberries contain high levels of Vitamin C and are a rich source of polyphenols, including ellagic acid.
- Pomegranate is a delicious fruit rich in Vitamins C and K, potassium, fiber and Folate, all of which are essential for healthy bone remodeling.
- Guava* is a tropical fruit that’s high in fiber, making it great for your digestive system. It also has a positive impact on blood pressure, due in part to its high potassium content, and its vitamin profile boosts immunity.
Ellagic acid is readily available in a variety of delicious fruits and nuts. Raspberries contain the highest levels, and both raspberries and walnuts have been directly linked to increases in bone mass.
Use Your Knowledge
It’s a shame that all of this groundbreaking research on the power of polyphenols is blatantly ignored by the Medical Establishment. Compounds such as ellagic acid have a measurable, proven impact on osteogenesis and bone remodeling.
Savers should keep in mind the bone-building properties of polyphenols and consume a wide variety of plant foods. It’s an effective way to provide the body with the nutrients it needs while balancing the pH, to build bone and stay healthy.
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Till next time,
1 Papoutsi Z, Kassi E, Chinou I, Halabalaki M, Skaltsounis LA, Moutsatsou P. “Walnut extract (Juglans regia L.) and its component ellagic acid exhibit anti-inflammatory activity in human aorta endothelial cells and osteoblastic activity in the cell line KS483.” Br J Nutr. 2008 Apr;99(4):715-22. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/17916277/
2 Hong-Mei Zhang, et al. “Research progress on the anticarcinogenic actions and mechanisms of ellagic acid.” Cancer Biol Med. 2014 Jun; 11(2): 92–100. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4069806/
3 Bae JY, Choi JS, Kang SW, Lee YJ, Park J, Kang YH. “Dietary compound ellagic acid alleviates skin wrinkle and inflammation induced by UV-B irradiation.” Exp Dermatol. 2010 Aug;19(8):e182-90. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20113347
4 Yasuko Makino-Wakagi, et al. “Ellagic acid in pomegranate suppresses resistin secretion by a novel regulatory mechanism involving the degradation of intracellular resistin protein in adipocytes.” Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Volume 417, Issue 2, 13 January 2012, Pages 880-885. Web. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X11022765
5 Inhae Kang, et al. “Improvements in Metabolic Health with Consumption of Ellagic Acid and Subsequent Conversion into Urolithins: Evidence and Mechanisms.” Adv Nutr. 2016 Sep; 7(5): 961–972. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5015040/
6 Jean-Gilles D, Li L, Ma H, Yuan T, et al. “Ellagic Acid from Raspberries Inhibits Bone Resorption in Rats.” J. Agric. Food Chem. Dec 2011. Web. https://osteoporosis-studies.com/ellagic-acid-from-raspberries-inhibits-bone-resorption-in-rats/
7 Shukitt-Hale B., et al. “Effects of blackberries on motor and cognitive function in aged rats.” Nutr Neurosci. 2009 Jun;12(3):135-40. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19356316