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Pomegranates are a nutritious, delicious fruit that contains juice-filled seeds called arils. The peel and white membrane are safe to consume in small amounts, but they’re very bitter and may not be safe in large amounts. The peel is used mostly in making nutraceuticals.
Pomegranates are high in antioxidants and contain potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber. Because of their high antioxidant content, pomegranates are beneficial to overall health. Antioxidants protect the cells from being damaged by free radicals.
Free radicals are produced from inflammation inside the body brought on by stress, injury, eating large amounts of unhealthy food, excessive exercise, consuming tobacco, and environmental factors such as exposure to air pollution, UV radiation, and cigarette smoke. (1)
When a lot of inflammation occurs in your body, you can be more susceptible to diseases including cancers. Incorporating pomegranates can be beneficial to your overall health.
This article brings you the ten most important health benefits of consuming pomegranates as part of an overall nutritious and well-balanced diet.
Health Benefits of Pomegranates
Here are some of the many benefits that you get when you consume pomegranates, raw or juiced.
1. Can retard cancer
The anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranates can slow the growth of cancer cells. In particular, pomegranate juice has been shown to inhibit the progression of prostate cancer. (2)
2. Improve blood pressure and prevent heart disease
Pomegranate juice decreases blood pressure and increases blood flow. (3) It may also prevent the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. (4)
3. Help manage arthritis
4. Improve fertility
Pomegranates may be beneficial for alleviating PCOS symptoms that may interfere with fertility. (7) Consuming the fruit may increase motile sperm count in men with low sperm counts or poor-quality sperm. (8)
5. Improve brain function
The polyphenols in pomegranate juice may protect neurons from free radical damage.
In a 12-month study participated by middle-aged adults, the individuals who consumed 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day were found to have no decline in the ability to learn visual information. The group that did not have pomegranate juice had a significant decline in their ability to learn the information. (9)
6. Help manage diabetes
Pomegranate juice may help with insulin resistance, which is a condition in type 2 diabetes.
Most of the time, it’s better to eat the whole fruit rather than the juice alone to get all the fiber and to prevent blood sugar spikes and excessive calorie intake. However, pomegranate juice is higher in antioxidants than the seeds alone.
According to a study, fresh pomegranate juice lowered melatonin, increased the level of insulin, and improved insulin resistance in people with high fasting blood sugar. (11) When insulin resistance is improved, blood sugar is allowed into the body’s cells for energy rather than staying in the blood. In the study, 1.5 ml/kg body weight of fresh pomegranate juice was used.
More clinical research is necessary to test the effects of different amounts, but health benefits can be observed from drinking small amounts each day. For example, a 175 lb (80 kg) man could see benefits from drinking 120 ml or ½ cup of pomegranate juice per day.
Since the study showed that pomegranate juice decreases melatonin, it may be a good idea to drink it in the morning rather than at night, as melatonin is the hormone that increases to prepare your body for sleep.
7. Maintain oral health
Pomegranates also exhibit antiplaque properties, which can aid in maintaining optimum oral health. The fruit contains polyphenols and flavonoids that are antimicrobial and thereby help reduce plaque buildup in the mouth.
Plaque is a sticky pale film that forms over the gums and teeth. It essentially contains an overgrowth of oral bacteria that feed on food debris to release acidic by-products that corrode away your dental and gingival tissue.
If left unchecked, plaque accumulation can pave the way for more serious periodontal problems, which include gradual tooth decay that may lead to tooth loss, periodontitis, gingivitis, and denture stomatitis.
You can incorporate pomegranates into your oral hygiene routine by using toothpastes or mouthwashes containing pomegranate juice or extracts. You can also use pomegranate juice to rinse your mouth, which was found to reduce plaque formation by 32% in one study. (12)
8. Prevent premature aging
Pomegranates are also credited with antiaging benefits to your skin to keep it supple, smooth, and younger looking.
Aging is a natural process, but it can be induced early on by various factors such as environmental pollutants, excessive sun exposure, negligent skin care, poor diet, and not drinking enough water.
Pomegranate is loaded with antioxidants that can help fight free radicals that damage collagen and healthy skin cells to induce premature wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of skin elasticity.
The UV rays of the sun, chemical toxins, and environmental pollutants release free radicals in the body, and pomegranates release antioxidants that can curb or neutralize their harmful effects.
Another important manner in which pomegranates help prevent premature aging is by promoting the production of collagen fibers and inhibiting the production of enzymes that destroy these fibers. The loss of collagen fibers is characterized by loose, saggy skin. (13)
9. Help overcome iron deficiency
Pomegranates are full of iron, which is utilized by the body to manufacture red blood cells. Thus, adding this wondrous fruit to your regular diet can help combat iron deficiency anemia by increasing your hemoglobin levels and improving your overall blood flow.
Pomegranate is also rich in vitamin C, which facilitates iron absorption in the body. Research has shown that consuming pomegranate seeds as a nutritional supplement can help decrease fatigue, wooziness, and weakness in people with anemia. (14)
10. Can help manage weight
Pomegranates aren’t known to reduce weight, but eating the high-fiber seeds can promote a feeling of fullness and can help control appetite. This fruit can therefore help you if you are overweight and trying to lose a few pounds.
How to Include Pomegranates in the Diet
Pomegranates can be incorporated into your lifestyle by eating pomegranate seeds plain or adding them to other foods.
Try adding the seeds as a salad topping, mix them in with yogurt, or stir them into oatmeal. You may also drink a small amount (4–8 ounces) of pomegranate juice in the morning.
Pomegranate supplements may be beneficial for some conditions, but always talk to your doctor before starting a supplement.
Caution: If you are taking medications, check with your doctor before consuming pomegranates as the fruit can interact with some medicines, including ACE inhibitors, blood pressure medications, carbamazepine, Crestor, and warfarin.
When to buy: Pomegranate season starts in October and ends in January.
What to look for: A good pomegranate should be heavy and have firm skin.
How to store: Whole pomegranates don’t go bad for several days if stored at room temperature but away from sunlight. If you want them to last longer, seal the fruit in a plastic bag and stash it in the fridge, but not for more than 3 months.
The pomegranate arils can survive in the fridge for up to 3 days, but for up to 6 months in the freezer. All you have to do is spread a single layer of arils on a cookie sheet and place it in an airtight container before putting it in the freezer.
Pomegranate seeds and juice are extremely healthy due to the high level of antioxidants they offer. It’s important to remember that no one superfood will heal all of your discomforts or will keep you in perfect health.
In general, the best way to have pomegranates is to incorporate them into an overall healthy diet that has a variety of fruits and vegetables (which also contain high amounts of health-protective antioxidants), lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats.
Pomegranates alone cannot cure disorders but may be used in conjunction with other treatments to improve health and symptoms. Talk with your doctor if you have a specific health condition you want to try pomegranates with. Most importantly, keep in mind that pomegranates taste great! Don’t forget to just enjoy eating them!