When it comes to fruit, I definitely get more than the daily one-and-a-half to two cups per day recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). I also try to eat a variety of fruits each day. Take the other day at breakfast—I was peacefully enjoying a fresh pomegranate I picked up from my local market.
In the past, I used to avoid the pomegranate. They have a deliciously sweet, juicy, and tart taste—but they are not the most convenient fruit to eat.
For instance, they have a tough spiny skin, and they seem to leave behind a mess that can stain your clothes if you’re not careful.
What Is Pomegranate?
The thing about pomegranates is they have incredible health benefits. Some ancient cultures have praised the pomegranate as a symbol of eternal life, fertility, health, and the “fruit of paradise.” They are native to Persia and Iran, and have been cultivated since 4000 B.C. in places like Russia, India, and the Mediterranean region. Today, the pomegranate is known as a “super fruit, and the best kinds are thought to come from southern Afghanistan.
A pomegranate is a type of berry that is between the size of a lemon and grapefruit. Pomegranates are also known by the plant name Punica granatum, and belong to the plant family Lythraceae. Inside the white flesh of the pomegranate are hundreds of tasty seeds that are also full of health benefits. In fact, the Latin name for the pomegranate translates as “seeded apple.” It even looks similar to a red apple!
There are many pomegranate health benefits. For starters, the pomegranate is loaded with nutrition. Pomegranates are known for their high antioxidant content. In particular, there is an extremely powerful antioxidant found in the peel and juice of the pomegranate called punicalagins. Studies have even found that pomegranates contain triple the amount of antioxidants than green tea.
Pomegranates are also a great source of other antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. Not to mention that pomegranate also contains nearly half of the required intake of dietary fiber for the average person. It is also a valued source of protein.
Pomegranates contain a conjugated linoleic acid called punicic acid. Pomegranate health benefits also come from many other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. The fruit is also a good source of omega-6 fatty acids. Finally, pomegranate is full of B vitamins such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate, and choline.
Pomegranate Nutrition Chart
Below is a detailed pomegranate nutrition chart. It is a good reference tool for information about one pomegranate that is about 282 grams.
|Folate (Vitamin B9)||107mcg||27%|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||223mg||N/A|
|* N/A—Not Applicable|
10 Health Benefits of Pomegranate
The pomegranate has antiviral, antitumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, pomegranates are very versatile! You can juice them for fresh pomegranate juice, and they are also available in pomegranate extract supplement form. Here are some of the health benefits of eating pomegranates, pomegranate seeds, and pomegranate juice:
1. Reduces Blood Pressure
Pomegranates can lower high blood pressure—a major precursor for strokes and heart attacks. It’s the punicic acid in pomegranates helps lower blood pressure. In a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, researchers suggested that daily pomegranate juice consumption for two weeks significantly lowered high blood pressure in 21 hypertensive patients.
2. Reduces Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk
The antioxidant content and punicic acid found in pomegranate juice can fight atherosclerosis, decrease plaque formation, and improve overall heart health. A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that 800 mg daily of pomegranate seed oil could significantly reduce triglycerides and improve the overall high density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio. Another study from 2005 found that daily pomegranate juice consumption may improve stress-induced cardiac ischemia in coronary heart disease patients.
3. Helpful Food for Cancer Prevention and Treatment
The benefits of eating pomegranates or drinking pomegranate juice also include protection against cancer. The anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin C, and other antioxidants in pomegranates play a part in the preventative cancer effects. Studies have found that pomegranate extract can help induce cell death in prostate cancer cells and breast cancer cells. Pomegranate can also help treat and prevent lung and skin cancer.
4. Supports Good Digestion
The fiber in pomegranate help support good digestion. Pomegranate juice is often used to treat digestive conditions like cholera and severe diarrhea. A 2013 review published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine supports the anti-inflammatory activity of pomegranate juice, seeds, flowers, and peels in the digestive tract and gut.
5. Helps Treat Joint Pain and Arthritis
Arthritis is a major problem for adults over the age of 50. Luckily, pomegranate can also improve osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and overall joint pain. In a 2005 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, pomegranate extract and its compounds were found to block enzymes that can cause joint damage. Researchers concluded that pomegranate extract could impede cartilage dilapidation in osteoporosis and help maintain joint function. Studies also support the protective effects of pomegranate juice against arthritis in mice.
6. Beneficial for Fighting Bacterial and Fungal Infections
The benefits of eating pomegranate also include antifungal and antibacterial abilities against bacterial infections and candida. A study published in 2010 found that pomegranate extract was highly-effective at fighting candida infections. Another study from 2013 found that pomegranate extract could inhibit the activity of infectious pathogens, including Candida albicans, Escherichia coli (E. coli), methicillin resistant S. aureus, and Stephylococcus aureus.
7. Improves Memory
Evidence suggests that pomegranates can improve memory and prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. In a 2013 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, pomegranate juice was found to improve visual and verbal memory after four weeks. In the study, 32 people each drank an eight-ounce glass of pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink. Another study from 2006 found that pomegranate juice reduced the accumulation and deposition of amyloid in the brain by 50% in mice. The polyphenols found in pomegranate juice are thought to provide positive cognitive benefits.
8. Reduces Kidney Problem Complications
The potassium and antioxidants in pomegranates offer protective effects against kidney diseases and dialysis-related infections. In a study from 2010, researchers suggested that potassium found in pomegranate juice could lower dialysis-related complications in kidney patients, including less infections, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
9. Lowers Stress Levels
Pomegranates can lower oxidative stress in the body, and they can also reduce psychological stress as well. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, Queen Margaret University researchers found that pomegranate juice could reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol in 28 volunteers. Cortisol is often elevated when a person is under stress. Study participants consumed either 500 ml of pomegranate juice or 500 ml of a placebo drink.
10. Helps Protect Against Dental Plaque
The health benefits of pomegranates include protective anti-plaque effects. In a 2011 study published in the journal Ancient Science of Life, researchers found that pomegranate juice could significantly reduce plaque forming by 32%. The polyphenols in pomegranate juice are thought to contribute to the antibacterial effects against dental plaque. Pomegranates can also treat other dental conditions such as periodontitis, gingivitis and denture stomatitis.
Other Pomegranate Health Benefits
There are also other pomegranate health benefits. For instance, pomegranates are considered a natural aphrodisiac. In other words, they can boost your libido and treat conditions like erectile dysfunction. The benefits of eating pomegranate include protect the skin from wrinkles and treating acne breakouts.
Pomegranates can also help decrease hunger, reduce your risk of diabetes, and decrease symptoms associated with anemia. Studies have also found that the nitrates in pomegranate can improve exercise performance. Pomegranates will last for a couple of months when they are placed in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator.
How to Seed a Pomegranate
It is completely safe to eat pomegranate seeds; however, some people may prefer to seed the pomegranate. Here is how you do it:
- Cut off the blossom end of the pomegranate. In this process you will remove some of the pale-colored pith.
- Next, lightly cut the pomegranate skin in quarters.
- Once cut, place the pomegranate in a big bowl of cold water and soak for five minutes. You can hold the fruit under the water and break the seed sections apart to separate the seeds from the membrane.
- Finally, throw away the membranes and skin. Drain the pomegranate seeds and use paper towels to dry them.
Delicious Pomegranate Smoothie Recipe
Want a quick recipe to utilize the health benefits of pomegranate juice? It is easy to get the most out of the rich antioxidant content from pomegranates. Here is a super simple smoothie recipe that features pomegranate as a main ingredient.
- 8 cups of organic spinach
- 1 cup of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
- 1 cup of organic blueberries
- 1 cup of strawberries
- 8 Medjool dates, cut in halves
- 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed
- 1/2 avocado
- Blend the ingredients together, and enjoy!
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