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Categorically, pomegranates are known as a “true berry,” a fleshy fruit packed with edible seeds. Although the dry skin or husk that houses the seeds is technically edible, it’s not palatable. Resultantly, the skin of the pomegranate is used in powders and extracts while the seeds are eaten whole. Pomegranate seeds, or arils as they’re more commonly known, are similar in taste to cranberries: tart and subtly sweet. Known by the scientific moniker Punica granatum, pomegranates have been cultivated for hundreds of years throughout the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, pomegranates provide many great health benefits. Take a look!
Important Note: Each of the health benefits noted below is supported by the most up-to-date scientific research at the time of this publication.
One of the pomegranate’s greatest brags is that it’s loaded with an incredible nutrient profile. Pomegranate arils, though labor intensive to remove from the husk, contain a wealth of nutrients that make the arduous task of removing them well worth the effort. For starters, a half-cup serving of pomegranate arils contains just 72 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 16 grams of carbohydrates. What’s more, pomegranate is rife with both fiber and protein, at 3.5 grams and 1.5 grams per serving respectively. Additionally, pomegranate is fraught with potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Significantly, pomegranate contains 32% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C as well as 27% of the daily recommended value of folate. It’s worth noting, however, that the high concentrations of vitamin C and folate are negligible when drinking pomegranate in its juiced form.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. In its whole form, pomegranate can provide you with many beneficial nutrients.
Packed With Antioxidants
Pomegranates are packed with antioxidative plant compounds that fight harmful free radicals that could ultimately lead to chronic illnesses. Specifically, pomegranates contain polyphenolic compounds that prevent the oxidation of free radicals. The most prolific plant compounds found in pomegranates include punicalagin, anthocyanins, and hydrolyzable tannins; each plays a role in protecting you from diseases such as some cancer types, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory disorders. Speaking of inflammation, chronic inflammation is linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. In both laboratory and animal studies, the punicalagin in pomegranates has proven useful in reducing inflammation; a handful of human studies have yielded similar results.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Although the research concerning the antioxidative powers of pomegranates is promising, more human studies are needed.
Reduces Risk of Cancer
Research indicates a positive correlation between pomegranate consumption and slowing the growth and spread of cancerous cells. Both laboratory and human studies have concluded that pomegranate compounds combat the inflammation associated with the proliferation of cancer. Furthermore, the same studies have shown that pomegranate provides anti-tumor effects in cancers of the lung, breast, colon, skin, and prostate. Incredibly, in a study of men with prostate cancer, pomegranate was shown to reduce its spread as well as the likelihood of death from this cancer type. Beyond that, some animal studies have shown similar effects in cancer of the liver.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Although there’s more research to be done, the current research on the effects of pomegranates on cancer is promising.
Good For Heart Health
Research concludes that fruits rich in polyphenolic compounds such as pomegranates have heart-healthy benefits. What’s more, laboratory studies have shown that the compounds alive in pomegranates reduce oxidative stress to the arteries, lower blood pressure, and combat plaque buildup in the arteries; each of these benefits provides positive indicators for overall heart health. Moreover, human studies showed that just one cup of pomegranate juice per day reduced chest pains as well as markers for heart disease in individuals with preexisting heart conditions.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Although there are relatively few studies on the effects of pomegranates on heart health, the research that does exist is promising.
Enhances Exercise Performance
One surprising benefit of including pomegranate in your diet is that it may enhance your exercise performance and endurance. For instance, one study concluded that consuming a small serving of pomegranate just before a workout improved endurance, or the duration subjects were able to partake in physical activity, by 12%. Similarly, other studies have determined that pomegranate intake improves both endurance and recovery time following workouts. Scientists believe that it’s the antioxidative, polyphenolic plant compounds that provide anti-inflammatory effects thereby aiding in exercise recovery and performance.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. While a few studies note a correlation between pomegranate extract and exercise recovery, some studies contradict these findings; more research is needed.
Good For Brain Health
Pomegranates are rife in powerful compounds known as ellagitannins which inhibit inflammation, especially around the brain. Resultantly, these same plant compounds protect the brain from other conditions caused by inflammation and oxidative stress. For example, some studies have shown that ellagitannins protect against both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as aid in recovery from brain injuries. Moreover, ellagitannins play an integral role in the production of a compound called urolithin-A which prohibits the onset of cognitive diseases.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. While the study of ellagitannins is pretty conclusive concerning brain health, more research is needed about pomegranates in this role.
Improves Digestive Health
Gut health which is integral to digestive health is supported by the regular consumption of pomegranates. Notably, studies have concluded that pomegranate properties can improve the good gut bacteria in your body. Specifically, pomegranate increases the bifidobacterium and lactobacillus activity in your gut, suggesting that the fruit has a prebiotic effect. Another digestive benefit of pomegranates is that the arils are rich in fiber, a nutrient essential to digestive health. Particularly, fiber remediates the symptoms of digestive conditions such as acid reflux, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, and constipation.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Pomegranates not only promote good gut bacteria, but they are also rich in fiber, both of which are good for digestive health.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
Has Antimicrobial Properties
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although some of the plant compounds found in pomegranates have been linked to the remediation of bacteria, fungi, and yeasts, there’s simply not enough research on this topic.