The functional significance of pomegranate (POM) supplementation on physiological responses during and following exercise is currently unclear. This systematic review aimed (i) to evaluate the existing literature assessing the effects of POM supplementation on exercise performance and recovery; exercise-induced muscle damage, oxidative stress, inflammation; and cardiovascular function in healthy adults and (ii) to outline the experimental conditions in which POM supplementation is more or less likely to benefit exercise performance and/or recovery. Multiple electronic databases were used to search for studies examining the effects of POM intake on physiological responses during and/or following exercise in healthy adult. Articles were included in the review if they investigated the effects of an acute or chronic POM supplementation on exercise performance, recovery and/or physiological responses during or following exercise. The existing evidence suggests that POM supplementation has the potential to confer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects during and following exercise, to improve cardiovascular responses during exercise, and to enhance endurance and strength performance and post-exercise recovery. However, the beneficial effects of POM supplementation appeared to be less likely when (i) unilateral eccentric exercise was employed, (ii) the POM administered was not rich in polyphenols (<1·69 g/l) and (iii) insufficient time was provided between POM-ingestion and the assessment of physiological responses/performance (≤1 h). The review indicates that POM has the potential to enhance exercise performance and to expedite recovery from intensive exercise. The findings and recommendations from this review may help to optimise POM-supplementation practice in athletes and coaches to potentially improve exercise-performance and post-exercise recovery.
Keywords: ASAT aspartate aminotransferase; BF blood flow; CK creatine kinase; CRP C-reactive protein; DOMS delayed onset muscle soreness; HR heart rate; LDH lactate dehydrogenase; MDA malondialdehyde; MMP matrix metalloproteinase; NO nitric oxide; PC protein carbonyl; PLA placebo; POM pomegranate; POMe pomegranate extract; POMj pomegranate juice; ROS reactive oxygen species; SBP systolic blood pressure; VD vessel diameter; hs-CRP high-sensitivity C-reactive protein; Inflammation; Muscle damage; Oxidative stress; Polyphenols; Sports nutrition.