WHAT IS ELLAGIC ACID?
Ellagic acid is a phenolic acid and phytonutrient (a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have multiple health benefits but are not considered essential to human health) that can be found in berries and nuts. Provisional evidence suggests that this nutrient is a powerful antioxidant which may also prevent cancer but further research is required before this can be confirmed. In this article I will be providing a full overview of ellagic acid.
WHEN WAS ELLAGIC ACID DISCOVERED?
Ellagic acid was first discovered by the French chemist and pharmacist Henri Braconnot in 1818. However, its health benefits were not studied until much later during the 1960s. The initial studies looked at the effect ellagic acid had on blood clotting. Studies in the 1970s and 1980s then began to look at the potential cancer fighting properties of this phytonutrient. In the 1990s a number of small laboratory studies investigated the potential use of ellagic acid for cancer prevention and cancer treatment which led to this phytonutrient gaining a large amount of publicity across the Internet.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF ELLAGIC ACID?
Like many phytonutrients, ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant (a substance that fights the harmful free radicals that are released during oxygen related reactions). Provisional research suggests that it may also have further health benefits, particularly when it comes to cancer prevention. These potential health benefits of ellagic acid are listed below:
– Possibly preventing various types of cancer (including breast cancer, colon cancer, oesophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer).
– Possibly preventing heart disease.
– Possibly preventing liver problems.
– Possibly promoting improved wound healing.
– Possibly reducing high blood pressure.
– Possibly strengthening the immune system.
However, almost all of the research into these potential health benefits has been performed on animals or cell cultures, so more evidence is required before the findings can be applied to humans.
HOW MUCH ELLAGIC ACID DO YOU NEED?
Ellagic acid is not believed to be essential in humans so no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been set.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN ELLAGIC ACID?
Ellagic acid is mainly found in berries and nuts with raspberries being the richest source by far. The table below outlines 5 of the top food sources:
|MILLIGRAMS (MG) OF ELLAGIC ACID PER GRAM (G)
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH ELLAGIC ACID?
Consuming natural ellagic acid from food is believed to be safe and no overdose symptoms have been reported. However, consuming high levels of ellagic acid supplements can have the following negative effects:
– Interfering with the absorption of other drugs and medications.
– Possibly inducing labour in pregnant women.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH ELLAGIC ACID?
Ellagic acid is not classed as an essential nutrient so there are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with its consumption.
ELLAGIC ACID SUMMARY
Whilst the potential health benefits of ellagic acid still need to be fully verified, the provisional research is very promising. Early evidence suggests that this powerful phytonutrient can fight against a number of health ailments including cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Plus, the foods that are high in ellagic acid also contain high levels of various vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. This means by eating berries and nuts you get to top up on ellagic acid and also fill your body with a wide range of other health boosting nutrients.