Pomegranate juice and seeds have slightly different benefits. But for now, we are considering the importance of eating a whole pomegranate – with juice and seeds.
They are loaded with antioxidant and other plants compounds that provide it high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. With high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, it provides protection from many types of chronic diseases.
Pomegranates are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, and other essential minerals. Due to an abundant source of anti-inflammatory plant compounds, it proves to be must have fruit.
Let’s explore what pomegranate can provide us.
1. They Are Nutrient Dense
Pomegranate comprises of the non-edible part (peel) and edible part (arils and seeds).
From the total fruit weight, 50% weight is peel while leaving 50% weight to edible part. The edible part consists of 40% arils and 10% seeds.
The non-edible part is nutrients rich but not of use as they aren’t edible. The point of interest and focus is the nutrients rich arils and seeds.
Nutritional value of arils: (1)
- Water – 85%
- Sugar – 10% (mostly fructose and glucose)
- Pectin – 1.5%
Organic acids – ascorbic acid, citric acid, and malic acid
Bioactive compounds – phenolics and flavonoids, particularly anthocyanin
It also contains vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and copper.
Nutritional value of seeds:
Seed cover – anthocyanin like delphinidin-3-glucoside, cyanidin-3-glucoside, delphinidin-3,5-diglucoside, cyanidin-3,5-diglucoside, pelargonidin-3,5-diglucoside, and pelargonidin-3-glucoside with delphinidin-3,5-diglucoside
Oils – Conjugated linolenic acids, triacylglycerols, sterols, steroids, cerebroside, punicic acid
On analysis, it is found that anthocyanins from pomegranate fruit possess higher antioxidant activity than vitamin-E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.
Phenolic acids, anthocyanin, flavonoids, and tannins are the most important nutrient in focus for their free radical scavenging activities.
Wrap up: Pomegranate’s aril and seeds are loaded with nutrients that possess high antioxidants and anti-inflammatory property.
2. They Can Protect From Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death, and the survivors experience lasting difficulties, including treatment side-effects, as well as physical, cognitive, and psychosocial struggles.
For prevention and treatment – foods are looked over to provide the solution.
Treatment of cancer is yet not proven, but healthy foods can provide protection from the leading cause of cancer like oxidative stress and inflammation.
Pomegranate is among those promising foods – loaded with plant compounds phenolic acids, anthocyanin, flavonoids, and tannins.
Studies suggest that whole pomegranate fruit (juice and oils) have chemopreventive/chemotherapeutic agents as they exert anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-tumorigenic effects due to its polyphenolic and other compounds. (2, 3)
Eating pomegranate inhibits cell growth (on tumor cells), encourage the death of cancer cells and discourage inflammation, giving it anticancer property against prostate, lung, and other cancers.
Consumption of pomegranate is found to slow the progress of cancer.
The conjugated linolenic acid in pomegranate seeds is found to suppress chemically induced colon carcinogenesis in rats. (4)
Punicic acid is an omega-5 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid found in the seed are capable to inhibit breast cancer proliferation (rapid growth of cell). (5)
Pomegranate can be a best additional in your diet due to its anti-cancer property. There are lots more studies to be done on the treatment of cancer through food but they can be used to stay protected from cancer.
Wrap up: With loaded healthy plant compounds, pomegranate possess anti-cancer property which is effective to protect from many types of cancer. In studies, it is also found to slow down the growth of cancer cells which is promising to benefits during chemotherapy treatment.
3. It Can Improve Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. Risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke can be lowered with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Pomegranate is found effective to protect from heart diseases by lowering blood and preventing atherosclerosis
High blood pressure is leading drivers of heart attack and stroke.
Consumption of pomegranate juice (150ml daily for 2 weeks) has found to lower blood pressure in hypertension patients. (6)
It is found to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in type II diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia, as studies done by Iranian Diabetes Society.
Consumption of pomegranate juice decreased cholesterol absorption, increased cholesterol extraction thus reducing LDL cholesterol, improved LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio. (7)
Since it can reduce the heart disease risk factors in these hyperlipidemic patients, other can also get the same or better benefits.
The high antioxidant property is found beneficial as they protect the damage of arteries and LDL cholesterol.
Oxidative stress is responsible for damage to arteries which leads to hardening of arteries also known as atherosclerosis. While oxidation of LDL cholesterol is responsible for the buildup of plaque in arteries thus limiting the blood flow. (8)
With high antioxidant property, lower LDL cholesterol damage pomegranate juice cuts the major risk of heart disease.
Wrap up: With high antioxidants, and cholesterol-lowering property pomegranate protects from atherosclerosis and also lowers blood pressure. All these benefits credits promote pomegranates as a heart-friendly food.
4. It Can Reduce Arthritis & Joint Pain
Arthritis is a progressive degenerative joint disease, and the common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are the common symptoms. It affects the joint and degrades the quality of life in patients.
Arthritis is a common health problem in the Western countries due to a sedentary lifestyle and lack of protecting nutrient intake.
Consumption of pomegranate provides antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compound that protect from inflammation, and can possibly treat arthritis.
A study on mice found that the pomegranate extracts can reduce the start and progress of collagen-induced arthritis. (11)
Wrap up: With high anti-inflammatory compound, the risk of arthritis lower while the addition of pomegranate. It can also be beneficial to lower arthritis and joint pain.
5. Pomegranate Can Improve Memory
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are always credited for improved memory function and lower risk of cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
The antioxidants activity in pomegranate is responsible for the added benefits like improved cognitive function and protection from cognitive disorders.
Pomegranates have neuroprotective property due to its polyphenols. It is found to protect the brain (the memory) from the effect of open-heart surgery. (12)
General anesthesia can give rise to amyloid buildup in the brain and can induce brain ischemia (occurs when there isn’t enough blood flow to the brain to meet metabolic demand) – both leading to free radicals damage.
Thus it can lead to neuronal cell death (apoptosis), suppression of the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis), vascular damage, and inflammation in the brain.
Pomegranates have antiapoptotic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and provascular (via nitric oxide synthase) properties which are responsible to prevent brain damage after open-heart surgery and improvement in memory.
A study was conducted on middle age adults for 4 weeks to find its effect on verbal and visual memory tasks. A group was given pomegranate juice and other with flavor-matched placebo drink. The group with pomegranate juice found improvement in the verbal and visual memory task. (13)
Pomegranate decreases amyloid deposition in the hippocampus, which can be a reason for protection from Alzheimer’s disease. (14)
It contains very high levels of antioxidant polyphenolic substances which is responsible for the neuroprotective effect.
Wrap up: With high polyphenolic compounds it prevent amyloid build (protects from Alzheimer’s disease), and also improve memory (by preventing neurons death and the birth of new neurons)
6. It Can Fight Infections
Pomegranate has strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiobesity, and antitumoral properties which makes it functional food and nutraceutical source form ancient time.
It has been approved for its antimicrobial properties. The powder of peel is found to combat infections from some type of bacteria as well as the yeast Candida albicans.
It has antibacterial property due to its nutrients richness.
Punicalin and punicalagin increase the production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by stimulating the growth and metabolism of commensal bacteria. These commensal bacteria provide resistance to pathogens, stimulate the immune system, prevent food allergies and tumor, produce vitamins, and fight bacterial infections. (1)
Wrap up: Pomegranate peel powder can fight bacterial and yeast infection. While nutrients in fruit are fed by microbiome which is are responsible to improve protection from bacterial infections.
7. Treat Erectile Dysfunction
Pomegranate can be preferred as a natural aphrodisiac.
A study by Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh found drinking pomegranate juice can increase testosterone level, responsible for elevated mood. (15)
It is also found beneficial in increasing blood flow and erectile response. The antioxidants can prevent arteriogenic erectile dysfunction due to oxidative stress. Antioxidants can be helpful in preventing smooth muscle dysfunction and fibrosis during erectile dysfunction thus improving the condition. (16)
Wrap up: Drinking pomegranate juice can increase testosterone level and can prevent erectile dysfunction.