In addition to being a valuable antioxidant, ellagic acid has some other beneficial properties: it is an anticancer, anti-inflammatory and antipathogen. Let’s find out what it is and where it is found.

What is it and where is it located?

Ellagic acid is a phenolic compound. This is the name of those chemical compounds formed by an OH hydroxyl group and an aromatic ring.

Despite its not complex structure, ellagic acid possesses remarkable beneficial properties especially in the context of serious pathologies such as tumours.

Ellagic acid, like other phenols, interacts with the metabolic processes that lead to the formation of malignant cells, inhibiting them.

Ellagic acid: what are its effects?

There is a growing number of studies that show that ellagic acid can decrease the symptoms of metabolic diseases such as dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver. Despite numerous studies, the mechanism of action of this nutraceutical is still unclear and the reason is due to the complexity of ellagic acid metabolism which depends on various factors, including:

  • the food source of ellagic acid and the quantity of ellagic acid present in the form of ellagitannins (the relationship between ellagic acid and ellagitannins is important)
  • the existence of other phytochemicals in that specific food
  • the extent of absorption in the stomach and small intestine (ellagitannins, unlike ellagic acid, cannot be absorbed in the stomach)
  • the interaction with the intestinal bacterial flora: it has been seen that, depending on the type of intestinal bacterial flora, the bioavailability of ellagic acid changes
  • the state of health of the guest (i.e., our state of health).

For this reason, it is necessary to have an overview of all these factors when evaluating the potential beneficial role of foods containing ellagic acid on chronic obesity-mediated diseases.

Ellagic Acid in Food

Scientists have proven that ellagic acid not only has strong antioxidant, haemostatic, anti-inflammatory and other beneficial activities but also successfully fights cancer cells. Among the natural sources of ellagic acid, the best known are berries such as raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. But in nature, there are other foods high in this powerful phenolic compound: some exotic fruits, nuts, and even the so-called liver mushroom (Fistulina hepatica).

  1. Forest strawberry

Common strawberries or wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are one of the best sources of ellagic acid, which is almost 10 times more in this berry than in raspberries. Wild strawberry leaf tea can also provide your body with small amounts of this beneficial phenolic compound.

  1. Raspberry

Many of the beneficial properties of raspberries are due precisely to the high concentration of ellagic acid. Rarely is a product able to surpass it in this indicator? Moreover, almost 90% of the valuable compound is found in tiny seeds of berries.

Raspberries have more than 2 times more ellagic acid than garden strawberries, almost 3 times more than walnuts, and 5 times more than pecans. Cutting-edge research has shown that a daily intake of just 150g of red raspberries can slow the growth of abnormal colon cells in humans and prevent the development of human papillomavirus (HPV) in cells.

  1. Cloudberry

Like raspberries and blackberries, cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus) belong to the genus Rubus in the pink family. Unsurprisingly, it also boasts an impressive ellagic acid content. The beautiful orange cloudberries are found wild in swamps and floodplains in Scandinavia, northern Canada and Alaska.

  1. Cranberries

Treating urinary tract infections is the most well-known health benefit of cranberries. Although scientists have proven other medicinal qualities of cranberry extract. For example, it inhibits the growth of prostate, colon, breast, and oral cancer cells. Unsurprisingly, cranberries have a wide variety of phenolic compounds.

  1. Pomegranate

Compared to strawberries and blackberries, the content of free ellagic acid in pomegranates leaves much to be desired. But they have many derivatives, such as ellagitannins. Once in the body, they form molecules of the coveted acid.

  1. Walnuts

Another natural source of ellagic acid is found among the nuts. The content of this phenolic acid in walnuts is comparable to that in garden strawberries. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is especially important for people who do not eat meat or fish.

  1. Pecan

Pecans belong to the same Juglandaceae family as walnuts. It also contains ellagic acid but in much smaller quantities. An interesting fact: in other members of the family, such as pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia and almonds, scientists have not been able to identify the presence of this polyphenol.

  1. Liver fungus

And finally, the most unexpected product containing ellagic acid. It is a red-brown liver mushroom (Fistulina Hepatica) or common liverwort. In some parts of the world, it is also known as the “bull’s tongue” or “fleshy mushroom” mushroom. Previously, it was used as a substitute for meat products. The liver mushroom grows on oaks and chestnuts in the UK but can be found in the rest of Europe as well as in North America and Australia.