Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranates are considered to be one of the healthiest fruits on the planet. The scientific name of the pomegranate is Punica granatum. It’s a shrub producing a big red round fruit with a diameter of 2-5 inches (5-12 cm) categorized as a berry. The skin of the fruit is inedible but it contains hundreds of seeds inside that look like rubies and are known as arils and these are extremely delicious. The arils can be eaten raw as they are or made into juice.
Fortunately a lot of studies have been conducted on pomegranates and they have given excellent results about how this fruit can lower the risk of many types of diseases to the human body. Here are some prominent health benefits of pomegranates.
Two Plant Compounds with Potent Medicinal Properties
Pomegranates contain two unique plant compounds which can be accredited for most of their health benefits.
These are highly powerful antioxidants present in the peel and juice of pomegranates. They have such a great power that pomegranate juice has been proved to have thrice as high antioxidant activity as that of green tea and red wine.
Due to this extremely powerful antioxidant punicalagin content of the pomegranate peel, pomegranate powder and extract is made from the peel.
Also called pomegranate seed oil, punicic acid is the major fatty acid in the arils. It is a sort of conjugated linoleic acid with powerful biological effects.
Vitamin C in Pomegranate
The juice of one pomegranate contains more than 40% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C tends to break down after pasteurization; hence it’s better to drink homemade, fresh juice of pomegranate.
Impressive Anti-inflammatory Effects
Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of several fatal diseases including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and also obesity.
A pomegranate has high anti-inflammatory properties that are largely facilitated by the punicalagins’ antioxidant properties.
Test tube studies have revealed that it can minimize inflammatory activity in breast cancer cells, colon cancer cells and digestive tract.
A study conducted on diabetics showed that 250 ml of pomegranate juice every day for 12 weeks reduced the interleukin-6 and inflammatory markers CRP by 30% and 32% respectively.
Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is among the major causes of heart attacks and strokes.
A study conducted on high blood pressure patients showed that after taking 5 ounces (150 ml) of pomegranate juice every day for a couple of weeks, there was a significant reduction in their blood pressure.
Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease
At present, heart disease is the most common cause of premature death in the world.
Heart disease is a complicated ailment affected by several different factors.
The main fatty acid in pomegranates, Punicic acid, may protect against many steps in the development of heart disease.
A study conducted on 51 individuals having high cholesterol and triglycerides who were given 800 mg of pomegranate seed oil every day for 4 weeks showed a significant reduction in triglyceride levels and improvement in the triglyceride:HDL ratio.
Another research observed the effects of pomegranate juice on type 2 diabetes patients with high cholesterol and remarkable reductions in LDL cholesterol were found along with other improvements.
Fights Breast Cancer
The most common kind of cancer found in women is breast cancer.
Pomegranate extract has been found to stop reproduction of breast cancer cells and even may kill some of them.
Fights Prostate Cancer
The most common kind of cancer in men is prostate cancer.
Laboratory studies have revealed that pomegranate extract can decelerate production of cancer cells and even start apoptosis (cell death) of cancer cells.
The prostate specific antigen (PSA) is the blood marker that indicates prostate cancer. If the levels of PSA double within a short time, the person is at a high risk of death from prostate cancer.
An interesting study done on humans found that 8 ounces (237 ml) of pomegranate juice every day increased the PSA doubling time significantly from 15 months to 54 months.
Similar improvements were seen in a follow-up study done with a kind of pomegranate extract known as POMx.
May Improve Workout Performance
Since pomegranates are packed with dietary nitrates, they have been found to enhance workout performance.
A study done on 19 athletes using a treadmill were given 1 gram of pomegranate extract half an hour before workout and their blood flow was significantly improved which consequently resulted in delaying of onset of fatigue and a rise in workout efficiency.
Although there is a need of more studies on this, pomegranate apparently may be beneficial for exercise performance.
Helps Improve Memory
Some evidence has been found that pomegranates can enhance memory.
In a study conducted on post-surgery patients, 2 grams of pomegranate extract prevented memory loss after heart surgery.
In another study conducted on 28 senior patients of memory loss, it was seen that 8 ounces (237 ml) of pomegranate juice every day remarkably improved markers of visual and verbal memory.
Protection from Alzheimer’s Disease
The high antioxidant content in pomegranate juice is believed to inhibit the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and keeps memory intact.
Treats Erectile Dysfunction
Oxidative stress can hamper blood flow in all parts of the body including erectile tissue. Studies on rabbits have shown that pomegranate juice improves blood flow and erectile dysfunction. A study done on 53 erectile dysfunction patients, pomegranates were found to have some advantages but this was not a statistically remarkable benefit.
Improvement in Sexual Activity and Fertility
The high proportion of antioxidants of pomegranate juice and its ability to curb oxidative stress make it a great fertility aid. Oxidative stress has been found to cause sperm immobility and reduced fertility in women.
Pomegranate juice has also been found to decrease oxidative stress in placenta though researchers don’t know the exact use of this yet. Regular consumption of pomegranate juice can help improve testosterone levels in men as well as women. Testosterone is among the essential hormones required for sex drive.
Fights Arthritis and Joint Pain
Arthritis is of several different types but most of them show some type of inflammation in the joints.
The fact that pomegranates have plant compounds that have potent anti-inflammatory properties, it’s logical that they can treat arthritis.
Laboratory studies have found that pomegranate extract can inhibit enzymes that damage joints in osteoarthritis patients.
Studies done on mice have shown that it is beneficial in arthritis, but not enough studies done on humans are available.
The plant compounds in pomegranates are highly capable of fighting disease-causing microorganisms.
They have been found to be beneficial in fighting against some kinds of bacteria and also against the yeast Candida albicans.
The antifungal and antibacterial effects of pomegranates may also be beneficial for inflammation and infections in mouth including conditions like periodontitis, gingivitis and denture stomatitis.
Since pomegranates have potent antibacterial and antiviral properties, they help minimize the ill effects of dental plaque and tartar and prevent various oral diseases.
Help in Digestion
Since pomegranates are known for reducing inflammation, their juice can reduce gut inflammation too which further helps improve digestion. This is beneficial for patients of ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
It should be remembered that there are conflicts regarding whether pomegranate juice helps or aggravates diarrhea and according to most doctors, it should be avoided until users feel better and their symptoms are subsided.
Help in Anemia
Pomegranates provide iron and thus help in reducing symptoms of anemia such as dizziness, exhaustion, hearing loss and weakness.
Pomegranate Nutritional Info
A 100 gram serving of pomegranates consists of:
|Water: 77.93 grams
Energy: 80 kcal
Protein: 1.67 grams
Carbohydrates, by difference: 18.70 grams
Total Lipid (fats): 1.17 grams
Total Saturated Fatty Acids: 0.120 grams
Total Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: 0.093 grams
Total Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: 0.079 grams
Total Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
Total Sugar: 13.67 grams
Vitamin C: 10.2 mg
Iron: 0.30 mg
It should be remembered that the arils of pomegranates are very sweet and a 100-gm serving of arils contains 14 grams of sugar. It should also be remembered that pomegranates are devoid of trans fats and cholesterol.
Risks of Pomegranate Consumption
- Enzymes in pomegranates can hamper the functioning of some enzymes in liver. If users are taking any medication for liver disorders, they should consult their doctor before consuming pomegranate.
- Since pomegranates are high in sugar, diabetic patients should eat them moderately.
- As mentioned earlier, there are conflicting opinions whether pomegranates help or worsen diarrhea. Plus, they are also known to start other stomach disorders like vomiting, nausea and abdominal pain. However, it should be noted that these symptoms subside within just a few hours. But overly consumption of this fruit can irritate the gut.
- Pomegranate consumption can cause symptoms that cause allergies. The symptoms include rashes, pain and swelling in mouth, pain while swallowing, facial swelling, hives and difficulty in breathing.
Long Story Short: if there are no reasons for you not to consume the pomegranate, be sure to include them into your daily nutrition. They are easily juiced using various juicers and blenders, but they are also very tasty when consumed directly.
Pomegranate can easily alter flavor of produced fresh juice and some people use them to increase sugar content, but also sometimes to make juices more sour - it all depends on the pomegranate variety.