Pomegranate is a sweet, tart fruit often identified by its thick, red skin. Although the skin of this fruit is not edible, it houses several juicy seeds that you can eat plain or integrate into various other meals.
Seeds from pomegranates are commonly used to make a vibrantly colored juice, but these unique fruits offer much more. Pomegranate seeds contain a variety of nutrients that promote various aspects of health. Read on to learn about the nutritional composition of pomegranates and how to harness the health benefits of these potent fruits.
Most of the nutritional benefits of a pomegranate stem come from the edible pink seeds called arils. Although it can be incredibly difficult to separate the arils from the fruit’s inner flesh, their nutritional profile is worth the stress.
Like most other fruits, pomegranates are low in calories and high in fiber. They also contain several vitamins and minerals. The nutritional composition of one average pomegranate fruit, according to the USDA, can be seen below.
Pomegranates are also rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds, such as punicalagin, anthocyanins, and hydrolyzable tannins. These compounds offer protection from oxidative damage and help prevent disease.
Here are some of the health benefits of integrating pomegranates into your diet.
Inflammation is harmless in the short term because it is the normal bodily response to an injury. However, chronic inflammation can be very damaging when left untreated. It leads to deadly conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Research has shown that eating pomegranates may help prevent chronic inflammation. The fruit’s anti-inflammation properties are associated with compounds called punicalagins. Puncalagins have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Some human studies have also found that drinking pomegranate juice can reduce markers of inflammation in the body. More research is needed, however, to confirm that eating pomegranate seeds provides the same benefits.
Some test-tube studies have shown that compounds in pomegranate fruit can help kill cancer cells or stop them from spreading. Human studies showed that the fruit demonstrated anti-tumor effects against cancers of the lung, breast, colon, prostate, and skin.
Other animal studies found that pomegranate helps slow the growth of tumors in people suffering from early-stage liver cancer. It also suppressed inflammatory responses and oxidative stress.
Furthermore, findings from an older test-tube study revealed that pomegranate extract can help suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells or even kill them. Nevertheless, more research is required to corroborate its anticancer effects.
Fruits high in polyphenolic compounds have long been touted by health experts for their heart-health benefits. Pomegranates fall within this category, containing various polyphenolic compounds and antioxidants.
What’s more, test-tube studies have found that pomegranate extract may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the arteries. The extract also lowers blood pressure and helps fight against atherosclerosis, a plaque buildup in the arteries that leads to heart attacks and strokes.
A human study found that people who drank pomegranate juice for five days suffered less chest pain and had fewer biomarkers in their blood.
Pomegranates contain ellagitannins, compounds that act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation. As a result, they offer protective benefits for the brain against conditions that are caused by inflammation and oxidative stress.
Some studies have shown that ellagitannins may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by preventing oxidative damage and degeneration of brain cells. This powerful compound may also support recovery from hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
Furthermore, the ellagitannins in pomegranates aid the production of urolithin A, a compound that experts believe may reduce inflammation in the brain and delay the onset of cognitive diseases.
Research has shown that digestive health is greatly influenced by gut bacteria. Pomegranates support digestive health due to their beneficial effects in the gut.
Animal studies have shown that pomegranate’s anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects require activity in the gut. On top of that, test-tube studies have found that consuming pomegranates increases the levels of beneficial gut bacteria, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
Pomegranate arils are packed with fiber, offering about 7 grams in a cup serving. Fiber is essential for digestive health. It may also reduce the risk of digestive conditions such as constipation, colon cancer, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Pomegranates are sweet, juicy, and packed with nutrients. They are also easy to integrate into your meals. While most people drink pomegranate juice to enjoy the fruit’s benefits, you can eat the seeds fresh or add them to your salad.