What Are Pomegranates?
Just in case you’re hearing about pomegranates for the first time: Pomegranates are the orange-sized fruits with a firm ruby-red outer skin and sweet arils – a red gelatinous flesh containing lots of seeds. Despite the many beliefs, the pomegranate seeds are edible and absolutely healthy. In fact, each part of pomegranate has health benefits – even the skin is used in dietary supplements as it’s an excellent source of the polyphenols, including prodelphinidins, catechins, and condensed tannins.
The History of Pomegranates
Originally grown as decorations, pomegranates are native to a region from modern Iran to the northern part of India and have been cultivated throughout the South Asia, Middle East, and Mediterranean region for thousands of years. Pomegranates are mentioned in the Book of Exodus, Babylonian texts, and the Homeric Hymns, and are believed to have been found in the Garden of Eden.
Pomegranates were known in early Bronze Age and a dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Thoth, one of the Ancient Egyptian deities, making us think that pomegranates were more popular during the ancient times than they are now.
The ancient Spanish city of Granada was renamed after pomegranate during the Moorish period but despite all the efforts to introduce the fruit to the different countries, including England, pomegranate kept staying a hidden gem that nobody noticed.
Nowadays, Greek and Turkish cultures see the pomegranate seeds as symbols of prosperity and good fortune, and other cultures are still trying to discover this miracle fruit.
Pomegranate Nutrition Facts
Pomegranates belong to a superfood category, which means they are plentiful in nutrients that can protect every aspect of your health.They’re fortified with protein, fiber, omega-6 fatty acids, copper, calcium, selenium, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins C, K, B6 and E. Pomegranates are also a small source of riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, folate, and choline. Flavonoids found in both pomegranate fruit and its outer skin contribute to a better whole body health. Pomegranates are low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol as well as have a relatively low glycemic index, which means they don’t cause a significant spike in blood sugar. 100 grams of fresh pomegranate contains:
• 83 calories
• 13.7g of sugar
• 4.0g of dietary fiber (16% of recommended daily intake)
• 18.7g of carbs (6% of RDI)
• 1.7g of protein (3% of RDI)
• 10.2mg of vitamin C (17% of RDI)
• 0.6mg of vitamin E (3% of RDI)
• 16.4mcg of vitamin K (21% of RDI)
• 0.1mg of vitamin B6 (4% of RDI)
• 0.1mg of thiamin (4% of RDI)
• 38.0mcg of folate (10% of RDI)
• 7.6mg of choline
• 0.1mg of riboflavin (3% of RDI)
• 236mg of potassium (7% of RDI)
• 10mg of calcium (1% of RDI)
• 12mg of magnesium (3% of RDI)
• 0.4mg of zinc (2% of RDI)
• 36mg of phosphorus (4% of RDI)
• 0.1mg of manganese (6% of RDI)
• 0.3mg of iron (2% of RDI)
• 0.2mg of copper (8% of RDI)
10 Best Health Benefits of Pomegranates
The science never stays still and it keeps exploring new superfoods day by day. Luckily, many researchers around the world have paid attention to pomegranates and what they have already found surprised even them. It turns out, pomegranates can promote not only better health, but also a longer life. Pomegranate juice, in particular, has been proven to control blood sugar, improve heart health and fight overall body inflammation. Have a look at the 10 best health benefits of pomegranates researchers have found:
1. Promote heart and artery health
A large number of studies and experiments have been conducted to explore the heart-healthy benefits of pomegranates. A study done by the Rambam Medical Center, in Israel showed that drinking a pomegranate juice regularly helps to reduce the amount of plaque, lower high blood pressure and prevent inflammation and oxidation. The study was conducted with 10 patients who had been drinking a pomegranate juice for 1 and 3 years.
Another study done by the National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute, in Iran, that involved 22 diabetic patients, found that a fresh pomegranate juice can help to reduce the cholesterol level. The patients had been drinking the juice for 8 weeks.
In another study 13 men aged 39-68 who suffered from high blood pressure drank 5 ounces of pomegranate juice and after 6 hours, their overall high blood pressure was decreased by 7%. Plus, the experiment showed that pomegranate juice consumption improves artery function.
The researchers from the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in California conducted a big study that involved the patients with ischemic coronary heart disease. The patients were given 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for 3 months. As a result, the blood flow was improved and the blood pressure was decreased. The conclusion is, regular pomegranate juice consumption may better stress-induced myocardial ischemia in people who suffer from heart disease.
2. Fight chronic inflammation
Pomegranates have been shown to decrease inflammatory activity in colon cancer and breast cancer cells – that’s all thanks to the punicalagins found in the fruit. Pomegranate juice can also help to prevent and treat chronic inflammation, which mostly leads to serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
3. Protect the skin against killer sun-induced damage
Pomegranates boast the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that promote the skin health as well. A study done by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, found that pomegranate fruit can help to protect your skin against harmful sun-induced damage and keep it younger longer due to its anti-aging properties.
4. Lower the arthritis risk
There are many various types of arthritis, but most of them have one thing in common – they cause a serious inflammation in the joints that lead to unbearable pain and a number of other dangerous health issues. As I mentioned above, pomegranates have excellent anti-inflammatory properties thus eating them regularly may help treat arthritis and relieve joint pain.
The two researches also showed that pomegranates’ anti-inflammatory properties can also be beneficial to people with osteoarthritis.
5. Reduce the prostate and breast cancer risks
The two most common cancer types that are highly dangerous to men and women. Pomegranates have been proven to contain the compounds that slow down the cancer cell reproduction and even stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells. A 2013 study conducted by the Duke University Medical Center, in Durham,found that giving men who suffered from prostate pomegranate extract tablets before surgery that involved a removal of cancerous tissue from the prostate can reduce the amount of tissue that must be removed. While these are not the end results and more studies are going to be conducted, men can certainly benefit from consuming pomegranates.
A number of other studies, and found that pomegranate extract restrains the breast cancer cell reproduction and may kill some of them. Although more experiments are needed in this field, we can confidently say that incorporating pomegranates is worth the candle.
6. Boost brain health
Pomegranates are high in the polyphenols, which have potent brain-boosting properties. A team of international researchers from the University of Huddersfield found that pomegranate contains a natural polyphenol compound that can prevent inflammation in certain brain cells, thus help to slow down or prevent Alzheimer’s development.
Another research involved elderly people with memory complaints, including age-associated ones. They were asked to drink pomegranate juice for 4 weeks. After those 4 weeks, they showed the significantly improved markers of visual and verbal memory.
7. Combat fungal and bacterial infectious
Pomegranates have anti-microbial activities that have been reported to kill fungal and bacterial infectious and antifungal properties. making it one of the most effective fruits to consume when trying to fight the harmful body bacteria. Regular pomegranate consumption can also prevent conditions such as denture stomatitis, periodontitis, and gingivitis.
8. Help women giving birth
A study conducted by the researchers from the Heidelberg University in Germany revealed that pomegranates contain special substances that strengthen the muscles in the reproductive system,helping pregnant women in labor.
Another research from the University of Liverpool found the same benefit of pomegranates, which make them one of the healthiest foods pregnant women should be consuming more.
9. Promote the liver health and fight Hepatitis C Chinese researchers revealed that flavonoids and polyphenols, the powerful antioxidant components found in pomegranates, help to protect the liver from damage.
Another study shows that regular pomegranate consumption can significantly reduce the risk of developing Hepatitis C, which leads to a serious damage to the liver, brain, kidneys, bones, joints, blood vessels, and pancreas.
10. Boost sexual health
Pomegranates have been considered as a natural aphrodisiac and often associated with abundance and fertility for many centuries. Of course, the researchers couldn’t miss this fact and have already conducted a host of experiments that show that pomegranate consumption promotes sexual health.
The research done by the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh that involved 58 individuals aged 21 to 64 showed that pomegranate juice has “Viagra” effect, raising the testosterone levels in both women and men.
Another study found that pomegranate juice have positive effects on erectile dysfunction, making it a must-eat fruit for men.
9 Interesting Facts about Pomegranates
Pomegranates boast a rich history and many hidden secrets that humans have no idea of, but thanks to researchers, today we can learn more about these fruits of the Bible. I’ve collected some of the most interesting facts about pomegranates that you probably didn’t know about:
• The word “pomegranate” derives from the Latin words “pomum” (apple) and “granatus” (seeded), translated like an apple with many seeds.
• Pomegranates are in season from September to December (and February in the Northern Hemisphere), with November being the National Pomegranate Month.
• Pomegranate trees grow for more than 200 years.
• Despite being a fruit, pomegranate belongs to the berry family.
• The Pomegranate Festival is annually held in Azerbaijan in October, with tons of pomegranate meals and desserts, and festive music.
• Breaking pomegranates on the ground on New Year’s Eve and at weddings is a big tradition in Greece.
• Although the number of seeds in pomegranates varies, an average pomegranate contains from 203 to 613 seeds, depending on the type of the fruit.
• Lots of scholars consider pomegranate a fruit that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,rather than an apple like most of us believe.
• In Greece, a pomegranate placed near or under the ikonostasi of the house is considered a housewarming gift, as it symbolizes luck, abundance, and fertility.
The Possible Side Effects of Pomegranates
Unless you take pomegranate supplements, fresh pomegranate seeds are rather safe to eat and there are few cases when a person experiences certain side effects. The evidences of the possible side effects of pomegranates are:
• Some people experience sensitivity to pomegranate juice and seeds, including swelling,itching, difficulty breathing, or/and runny nose.
• The root of pomegranate contains a large amount of poison and must never be eaten, otherwise, it can lead to death.
• Pregnant and breastfeeding women must be extra careful while including pomegranate in their meal plans.
• Since pomegranate juice has the ability to reduce the blood pressure level, people suffering from low blood pressure should limit their pomegranate consumption.
• People suffering from plant allergies are more likely to develop an allergic reaction to pomegranates.
• Pomegranates shouldn’t be eaten at least 2 weeks before and after surgery due to their abilities to reduce blood pressure.
When incorporating pomegranate into your diet plan, remember about moderation and consult your doctor before taking any pomegranate supplements in order to avoid any possible side effects.
Are Pomegranate Supplements Recommended?
When you have no opportunity to buy fresh pomegranates, the pomegranate supplements may come in handy. Like any other type of supplements, pomegranate supplements do have the side effects, which is why it’s critical to consult your doctor first. Pomegranate supplements are available in most health food stores as loose powder, capsules, and pills.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t take the supplements that contain pomegranate extract. If you take any blood-thinning medicines, blood pressure medications, and medications that reduce cholesterol, you shouldn’t take the pomegranate supplements, no matter how “organic” they are.
When taken correctly, pomegranate supplements can help to improve your heart health, reduce your cancer risk, fight inflammation, and increase your energy levels.
2 Super Healthy and Simple Pomegranate Recipes
There are many ways to consume pomegranates, but if you’re looking for something quick, easy and healthy, give these 2 recipes a try. You won’t regret you did.
Festive Pomegranate Quinoa Salad
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup sprouted quinoa
2 cups water
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 avocado, chopped
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
light herbed feta, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Add the quinoa and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Let it cool.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, cucumber, avocado, onion, red bell pepper and pomegranate seeds. Add the quinoa and feta and fold to mix. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and serve.
Super Tasty Pomegranate-Packed Parfait
1 cup plain plant or Greek yogurt
4 cinnamon graham cracker, crumbled
½ cup sweetened almond milk
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Place the half graham cracker crumbs in a glass jar.
In a small bowl, whisk the milk and yogurt and add to the jar. Layer another half graham cracker crumbs and top with the pomegranate seeds. You can also add nuts and oats, if you’re making the parfait for breakfast.
Pomegranates are unfairly underappreciated these days, yet more and more studies have already been conducted to let people know about this amazing super fruit. Although pomegranates are available all year round, I recommend consuming them during the winter season when they’re a lot tastier, therefore, healthier. Feel free to share your favorite pomegranate recipes with us in the comments section.