Let me tell you a story about the benefits of pomegranate seeds for Alzheimer’s disease.
You see, my grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease. I remember every time I drove her around she would ask me when I had gotten my driver’s license. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I got my license 10 years ago. Sadly, she had passed a few years ago at the ripe old age of 90.
Although she didn’t always remember certain details about my life, I would always share a particular “super fruit” with her to help boost her brainpower. As soon as she consumed the powerful fruit, it seemed as if she started to remember things again. She was more coherent and we could have conversations.
The miracle fruit I’m talking about is pomegranates. She loved the sweet and tart taste of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice and pomegranate seeds. Studies have found that pomegranates can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nutrition Facts of Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate seeds and pomegranates are packed full of nutritional goodies that are good for brain health. For instance, pomegranate seeds contain fiber, protein, and some fat in the form of essential omega-6 fatty acids. The fruit seeds also contain vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, and the unofficial B vitamin named choline. Pomegranate seeds are also a good source of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.
The following is a pomegranate seed nutrition chart with detailed nutrition facts about pomegranate seeds. It contains valuable information for half a cup of pomegranate seeds:
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||68.7mg||N/A|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.1mg||4.00%|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.3mg||1.00%|
|* N/A—Not Applicable|
Study: Pomegranates May Help Fight Alzheimer’s Disease
In general, the body can easily absorb the vitamins and other nutrients in fruits and fruit juices like pomegranates, which helps reduce the toxic load that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease and brain health. This is important since Alzheimer’s disease affects half of the American population over 85-years-old. Beta-amyloid is a protein fragment that builds up in the brain until it causes death to brain cells. To fight these clumps a molecule would need to cross the blood-brain barrier.
What makes pomegranates so effective for brain health and Alzheimer’s disease? There are several studies that show pomegranate extract contains polyphenols that help prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a new study published in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience, researchers have found a particular compound in pomegranate extract that is responsible for protection against Alzheimer’s disease. When gut bacteria breaks down the polyphenols in the extract, the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective compounds called urolithins are created.
For the study, the research team isolated and found 21 compounds from pomegranate extract. These compounds mostly included polyphenols. Other studies have indicated the polyphenols had failed to cross the blood-brain barrier. That being said, urolithins can break that barrier. They form when a type of polyphenol called ellagitannins are metabolized from gut bacteria.
The researchers concluded that further experiments are necessary to confirm whether urolithins can help for Alzheimer’s disease prevention or treatment in human trials.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate Seeds for Alzheimer’s Disease and More
However, the most recent study is far from the body of research on pomegranate and Alzheimer’s disease. For example, other studies have linked another pomegranate compound called punicalagin to the reduction of brain inflammation. As a result, the compound can help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a 2014 study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, U.K. researchers from University of Huddersfield found that punicalagin can decrease some inflammation in specialized brain cells called microglia. This type of inflammation will lead to greater destruction of brain cells overall, and allows for Alzheimer’s disease to become worse. The researchers also estimated that there is approximately 3.4% punicalagin in 100% pomegranate juice products.
Besides Alzheimer’s disease, pomegranate and pomegranate seeds have several benefits that are vital for a person’s health. Here are five more health benefits of pomegranate you should know:
1. Reduce Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a top health risk associated with strokes and heart attacks. One in three American adults suffers from hypertension. The punicic acid in pomegranate is thought to help lower blood pressure. In a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research in 2013, researchers found that consumption of 150 milliliters of pomegranate juice daily for a two-week period can benefit hypertensive patients.
The study included 21 patients between the ages of 30 to 67-years-old who had hypertension. Another 2013 study found that pomegranate juice significantly reduced systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
2. Heart Disease Protection
Besides hypertension, pomegranate juice may help reduce other risk factors associated with heart disease. The punicic acid and antioxidant content in pomegranate juice is thought to be responsible for its heart health abilities. In a 2006 study published in the International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research, researchers found significant reductions in low density lipoprotein (LDL) from pomegranate juice in type 2 diabetics and high cholesterol patients.
Another 2010 study found that pomegranate seed oil effectively reduced triglycerides and improved the ratio of triglycerides and HDL (high density lipoprotein) in 51 patients with high triglycerides and cholesterol.
3. Fight Oral Thrush and Candida
There is also some evidence that pomegranates may help fungal infections like oral thrush and systematic candida. Oral thrush is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the throat and mouth. Oral thrush creates a white coating on the tongue. This can be a sign of the spread of candida throughout the entire body.
In a 2010 study published in the journal Research in Microbiology, researchers found that the punicalagin in pomegranate showed strong activity against Candida albicans.
4. Prostate Cancer Prevention
Prostate cancer will affect about 200,000 men every year. It is also the most common cancer in men. A 2010 study from University of California, Riverside found that pomegranate juice may halt prostate cancer cell movement. It will also weaken chemical signals that spread prostate cancer. A 2006 study from University of California (UCLA) researchers also found that prostate cancer patients may have lower prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels after consuming eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily.
The study included 50 men who had experienced PSA increases after radiation or surgery. Pomegranate may also treat breast cancer, skin cancer, and lung cancer.
5. Erectile Dysfunction Treatment
It is estimated that erectile dysfunction affects 20 to 30 million men in the U.S. The condition is described as the inability to attain or sustain an erection. It affects 30% of adults older than 69 and 22% of those between the ages of 60 and 69. In a 2005 study of rabbits published in the Journal of Urology, researchers found that pomegranate juice increases blood flow and erectile response.
Although more research is needed, the research shows promise for men with erectile dysfunction.
Other Benefits of Pomegranates: Pomegranate also helps protect against dental plaque and supports good digestion. It also treats arthritis, kidney problems, stress, anemia, denture stomatitis, periodontitis, gingivitis, diabetes, and acne breakouts. It also helps in weight loss and improves satiety. Pomegranate can also improve exercise performance. Click here to learn more about the other health benefits of pomegranates.
Simple Tips to Add Pomegranate in Your Daily Diet
There are a variety of healthy ways to add pomegranate to your diet every day. Pomegranate is very versatile. There really are unlimited uses for pomegranate:
- Juice: First off, it is a good idea to juice pomegranate with a low-speed juicer. When you juice pomegranate, you ensure that no additives or sugar is added to the recipe. Be sure to also toss in the pomegranate seeds for extra nutrition.
- Pulse: Don’t have a juicer? Not to worry. Simply pulse the pomegranate in a food processor, and pour them through a fine cheesecloth or fine sieve. This will remove the pomegranate seeds and leave behind the juice.
- Add to meals: Pomegranate can also be added to salads, condiments, and tasty desserts. Also, try adding pomegranate seeds with lentils and coconut oil.
- Supplements: There are also pomegranate extract supplements available.
Use Pomegranate in Your Daily Recipes
Are you wondering how you can benefit from pomegranates and pomegranate juice? Luckily, there are some wonderful pomegranate recipes you can try:
1. Pomegranate Guacamole
If you’re like me, guacamole is one of your all-time favorite foods. Adding pomegranate seeds will add some sweet flavor to your simple guacamole. It will make for a great holiday appetizer. Try the easy recipe below:
- 2 medium ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds
- 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/3 cup of diced red onion
- 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 teaspoon of grey Celtic sea salt
- Combine pepper, salt, cilantro, avocados, and lime juice in a large bowl.
- Stir in the pomegranate seeds. Now you’re ready to serve. I usually have it with blue flax corn chips.
- Keep it sealed in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
2. Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce
Are you tired of plain old cranberry for your holiday celebrations? Switch it up and add some pomegranate seeds to the recipe. It will go great with your organic turkey dinner.
- 1 1/2 ounce bag of fresh or frozen cranberries (thaw, if frozen)
- 1 cup of pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 cup of pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 cup of coconut calm sugar
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Combine all ingredients except for the pomegranate seeds in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer at medium-high heat.
- Stir frequently and cook until you hear the cranberries pop.
- Remove the pan from the heat after five minutes and mix in the seeds.
- Remove the thyme before serving the sauce.
How to Choose and Store Pomegranates
The next time you are cooking with pomegranate or pomegranate seeds, remember that the fruit is not just versatile it will help you remember too. Pomegranate seeds are a great “super fruit” to treat Alzheimer’s disease, among many other conditions, but make sure you choose them wisely:
- Choose pomegranates with smooth skin without cuts or bruises.
- Pomegranates should be stored for five to eight days at room temperature in a dark, cool place.
- Overall, pomegranates have a long shelf life. They will also last about two weeks in the refrigerator.
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Yuan, T., et al., “Pomegranates Neuroprotective Effects against Alzheimer’s Disease Are Mediated by Urolithins, Its Ellagitannin-Gut Microbial Derived Metabolites,” ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 2015; doi: 10.1021/acschemneuro.5b00260.
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