Plants like raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates make ellagic acid to protect themselves, but this phytochemical may offer some protective benefits for you as well. Studies have found benefits in fighting viruses and bacteria, as well as cancer cells and other chronic ailments. In addition to getting ellagic acid from your morning fruit plate, you can take it as a supplement -- but keep in mind that it could affect the way some medicine is absorbed, so check with your doc first.
Some research has shown ellagic acid has some cancer-fighting ability. It might slow the growth of some tumors, according to the American Cancer Society. This is potentially good news for women: The ACS reports that ellagic acid may reduce the effect of estrogen in promoting the growth of breast cancer cells. Ellagic acid also reportedly can help the liver break down or remove cancer-causing agents from the blood. Research on ellagic acid’s effect on cancer first appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, but all the studies have been conducted on cell cultures or laboratory animals, according to the American Cancer Society. Animal studies have shown ellagic acid can inhibit growth of tumors of the skin, esophagus and lungs.
Can ellagic acid help keep you looking young? A study published in "Experimental Dermatology" found that ellagic acid offers some protective effects against skin wrinkling -- it prevented collagen degradation and swelling caused by UVB rays. The study concluded that getting ellagic acid either from your diet or in a topical solution may prevent wrinkles and inflammation caused by too much exposure to the sun. A study presented at the 2009 Experimental Biology conference, meanwhile, found that ellagic acid blocks production of an enzyme that breaks down collagen in damaged skin cells.
Ellagic acid might help keep your heart healthy, too. A study published in the "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry" tested the impact of ellagic acid on oxidative stress – a major risk factor for coronary artery disease. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between oxidants – a normal product of metabolism – and antioxidants. The study, conducted on rabbits, found that ellagic acid could prevent atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, by suppressing oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress also can damage the liver, but here again ellagic acid might be able to help. It has antioxidant and cytoprotective properties that can help prevent liver damage induced by oxidative stress, according to a 2010 study published in "Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy." In that study, researchers found that ellagic acid prevented oxidative stress-induced liver cell damage by preventing the production of reactive oxygen species, or ROS, which can attack cellular structures and contribute to many diseases. They also found that ellagic acid prevents the elevation of certain enzymes that can cause liver damage.
- Nutrition Journal: Freeze-Dried Strawberry Powder Improves Lipid Profile And Lipid Peroxidation In Women With Metabolic Syndrome: Baseline And Post Intervention Effects
- Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry: Reduction Of Oxidative Stress And Apoptosis In Hyperlipidemic Rabbits By Ellagic Acid
- Experimental Dermatology: Dietary Compound Ellagic Acid Alleviates Skin Wrinkle And Inflammation Induced By UV-B Irradiation.
- American Cancer Society: Ellagic Acid
- Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy: Ellagic Acid Protects Hepatocytes from Damage by Inhibiting Mitochondrial Production of Reactive Oxygen Species
Lucy D'Berry has been a writer for nearly 30 years, specializing in nutrition and health issues, as well as in education and government. She has written for daily newspapers and edits a national magazine. She has earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in the communications field.