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13 Proven Health Benefits Of Pomegranate: All Hail The Ruby Red Seeds

Pomegranate Health Benefits You Should Know About

Pomegranates pack a punch into their refreshing seeds, juice, and peel. Pomegranates reduce blood pressure, prevent inflammation whether inside arteries or in arthritic joints, ai in digestion, detoxify the liver, prevent memory loss and Alzheimer's, and can even help with erectile dysfunction. And though a sweet fruit, it has benefits for diabetics too. It has also shown promise in prostate and colon cancer.

A fruit a day can do you a world of good, and it doesn’t always have to be an apple. Pomegranate has a lot going for it as well. It can offer you benefits for almost every body part, from the heart and the liver to the joints and the brain. In fact, research finds that a pomegranate improves antioxidant functions in the elderly more than an apple does.1

Pomegranate juice has 3 times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. In fact, commercial pomegranate juice is even richer in antioxidants than the fresh-pressed juice from the arils or seeds, though they might be higher in sugar too.2

A single pomegranate (282 gm) meets:

  • Energy: 233 Calories
  • Dietary fiber: 44% of DV
  • Protein: 9%
  • Vitamin B-6: 10%
  • Vitamin C: 48%
  • Folate: 27%
  • Vitamin E: 11%
  • Vitamin K: 51% for women and 38.5% for men
  • Phosphorus: 14%
  • Magnesium: 8%
  • Iron: 4%3

Pomegranates have a high amount of antioxidants in the form of vitamins like C and E and polyphenols like ellagitannins (among which punicalagin is important). The seeds also contain a polyunsaturated fatty acid called punicic acid which has many health benefits.4 With so much nutrition and antioxidant and polyphenolic content, it’s no wonder that this fruit, its seeds, peel extract, and even oil can do so much for you! Here’s a look at the benefits of pomegranate.

1. Improves Heart Health

Pomegranate is often recommended in alternative and natural remedies as a means to improve overall cardiovascular health. Pomegranate offers these heart-related benefits and more:

  • Lowers blood pressure: In one study, researchers found that consuming it for a fortnight caused reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension, probably by improving the function of the endothelial cells in the arteries. The endothelial cells help maintain blood flow and regulate inflammation.5 6
  • Lowers triglycerides: In one study, those who took pomegranate seed oil daily over a 4-week period saw their triglyceride levels drop, which also improved their ratio of HDL “good cholesterol” to triglycerides.7
  • Prevents LDL oxidation and atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a condition where LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) gets deposited within arteries, gets oxidized, hardens up, and then blocks the flow of blood and leads to heart attacks at a later stage. Pomegranate antioxidants prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and consequently atherosclerosis in healthy volunteers as well as in patients with carotid artery stenosis (CAS), a condition where a major artery becomes atherosclerotic. It was found that 1 year of pomegranate juice consumption by CAS patients reduced the thickening of the artery by 30%, lowered LDL oxidation by 90%, and increased the total amount of antioxidants in the blood by 130%.8 9

2. Helps With Diabetes

Don’t overdose if you are diabetic. Stick to 1 cup of juice or 1 fruit a day. Look for 100% pomegranate juice if you are buying packaged juice.

Though a sweet fruit, pomegranate can help type 2 diabetics on multiple fronts.

  • Lowers fasting blood glucose10
  • Increases insulin sensitivity11
  • Reduces total and LDL cholesterol, a complication often seen in diabetics12
  • Reduces inflammation caused by diabetes – in a study on diabetics, 12 weeks of drinking 250 ml pomegranate juice was seen to lower inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and interlukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively13

3. Helps In Liver Detox

Historically, the pomegranate has been considered a good diuretic, keeping your body cleansed and helping rid it of toxins and waste, easing the load on the liver which along with the kidneys handles this detoxification job. While the liver helps detox your body, the detoxification process itself gives rise to harmful reactive molecules called free radicals. These free radicals, such as hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anions, damage the lipid (fat) layers of cells in a process called lipid peroxidation and cause inflammation. At this stage the liver requires strong antioxidant enzymes like catalase and peroxidase.

Expert recipe by Danielle Stewert for liver health:
 
Blend together 6 oz pomegranate juice, 1½ cup yogurt, ½ red grapefruit, juiced, ¼ cup kale, chopped, and 2 sage leaves. Drink up!

Pomegranate has been used as a therapy for liver revival since the extract from pomegranates not only lowers levels of these two free radicals but also restores the enzyme activity of the antioxidant enzymes, enabling liver detoxification to happen normally again. The peel extract can also help protect against carbon tetrachloride or CCl4, a chemical you may be exposed to through products in the cleaning industry, firefighting, or refrigerants, which also increases free radical damage in the liver.14 15

4. Helps Digestion And Relieves Constipation

The seeds of a pomegranate are considered to have a laxative effect. The sweeter varieties of pomegranate in particular are believed to be effective. The sweet and sour varieties are more useful for treating stomach inflammation. They are used to make digestive candies in Unani and ayurvedic medical tradition. The fiber in pomegranates also make them useful for digestion and to treat diarrhea.16 On top of that, pomegranate has been found to have an anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer effect on the gut, thanks to the ellagic acid and other polyphenols present in it.17 Worldwide, traditional medicine has also used pomegranate juice to kill intestinal worms.18

5. Can Aid Weight Loss

Replace your cola with a glass of pomegranate juice. Or snack on a whole fruit without discarding the seeds. The fiber can keep you full and off frequent snacking.

If your weight gain is associated with metabolic syndromes like diabetes or high lipid levels, pomegranate can help. Animal studies have shown that it can help reduce abdominal fat accumulation. Pomegranate leaf extracts administered orally have also been found to help with weight loss and lower serum total cholesterol.19 The polyphenolic antioxidants may even help you fight off stress-related weight gain. However, don’t go overboard with drinking the juice. Stick to a cup or two and count those calories within your calorie-restricted diet.

6. Improves Athletic Performance

You may have heard about the benefits of beetroot juice for enhancing sports performance, but did you know that you could also use pomegranate juice for the same purpose? Taking 1000 mg pomegranate extract, which is equal to an 8 oz pomegranate juice, just 30 minutes before a sports event, especially intermittent running, could help you perform better.20 21

Pomegranate juice can not only help you do more repetitions of an exercise but also reduce muscle soreness and help you recover faster. Drink 1–2 cups every day for sustained benefits.

Like beetroot, pomegranate has nitrates which turn into nitric oxide inside the body and dilate blood vessels. This improves oxygen and nutrient supply to your muscles and improves your oxygen efficiency. Drinking 500 ml of the juice on a regular basis can delay exhaustion and muscle soreness on the one hand and speed up recovery and regain of strength on the other hand, even in cases of heavy-duty performances such as by weight lifters.22

7. May Reduce Arthritis/Joint Pain

You could also benefit from having pomegranates to cut inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory condition in the body resulting in painful aching joints.23 Researchers found that pomegranate fruit extract can help reduce cartilage breakdown associated with arthritis and also check the production of chemicals in the body that mediate the process of inflammation.24

Since pomegranate may also help against bone loss and osteoarthritis, have it regularly when nearing menopause.25

While most studies so far have been on animal subjects, one small study on about 6 patients with arthritis showed that pomegranate extract given daily over a 12-week window helped reduce clinical symptoms like inflammation and joint tenderness (by 62%). A recent study has confirmed similar findings.26 27

8. Treats Several Types Of Cancer

Antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and herbs typically help prevent and treat cancer in a number of mechanisms. Pomegranates have likewise shown promise in treating skin, lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancer by reducing inflammation, arresting cell growth, and inducing cell death (apoptosis). This not only slows down or even stops the growth of tumor cells but also arrests the spread of the cancer. Researchers attribute these benefits to the polyphenols, including ellagic acid, and punicic acid.28 29 30 31 32

9. Boosts Memory And May Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Antioxidants have been shown to help with prevention of memory loss and to keep up good neurological health. One group of researchers investigated the effect of consuming pomegranate juice on older test subjects who had complained of age-related memory problems. Those who consumed 8 oz of the juice every day for a 4-week period showed improvements in verbal memory compared to those who had a placebo. In addition, they also had increased functional brain activation than those in the control group, leading the researchers to conclude that the fruit juice has potential to help augment memory function.33

When it comes to preventing age-related memory loss, a glass of pomegranate juice a day is a good enough remedy.

Thanks to the antioxidant chemicals in pomegranate, successful animal studies also open up the possibility of using pomegranate juice to help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease in those afflicted and delay onset in others.34

10. Treats Erectile Dysfunction

It’s not just Greek mythology that links pomegranates to fertility. Science does too. Research has found that the antioxidants in pomegranate can help in erectile dysfunction caused due to the accumulation of oxidative products in the erectile tissue. Consuming the juice over a long period of time also helped to increase the blood flow to the penis and improved smooth muscle relaxation and erectile response.35

According to ayurveda, pomegranate can help increase sperm count. Which is why it is considered to be spermatogenic, a property called shukrala, derived from the ayurvedic name for semen, “shukra dhatu.”36

11. Has Antimicrobial Properties

Pomegranate is also being explored for its use as an antimicrobial treatment to cure fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. In fact, ayurveda considers it a “pharmacy,” since it can act against a range of microbes as an anti-parasitic agent, and a blood tonic. Its broad-spectrum antibacterial activity makes it especially important now, as antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are making it difficult to treat infections through mainstream medicine.37 Pomegranate has been found to be effective against several common strains of pathogenic bacteria like Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, and Staphylococcus aureus and yeast like Candida albicans, which may make it effective against stomach, urinary tract, vaginal, and skin infections.38

12. Improves Skin Health

You may apply a pomegranate face mask by grinding the arils or the sundried peel into a paste. Apply it an hour before you step in the sun and wash off once dry.

Pomegranate has multiple benefits for your skin, from fighting UV damage to preventing acne with its rich antioxidant store.39While its ellagic acid reduces the appearance of wrinkles, the catechins in it firm up the skin by boosting collagen synthesis.40 41 It is because of this collagen-boosting property that pomegranate can even heal wounds faster.42

13. Improves Dental Health

Pomegranate-based treatments have been used effectively as a topical application to control oral inflammation. They have also been helpful in reducing fungal and bacterial counts in those with periodontal disease – that is infections of the gum and tissues surrounding the teeth.43 Research suggests that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice can even cut dental plaque buildup. The antioxidant polyphenols, ellagic acids and tannins, in the juice can avoid bacterial colony formation, thereby preventing plaque. Pomegranate also helps improve gum strength.44

No Known Side Effects

How much pomegranate you consume for therapeutic purposes will depend on the type of condition you are trying to treat. Pomegranate consumption and the use of its extracts do not appear to have any significant side effects in healthy adults. In one case as much as 1420 mg/day of the fruit extract was taken in tablet form by overweight individuals but did not result in any adverse reactions or changes to their urine or blood profiles. It is believed to not interfere with drugs. However, if you take medicines for diabetes, lowering cholesterol, or for blood-thinning, it’s best to consult a doctor before you start consuming pomegranates regularly.45

References   [ + ]

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Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.