A Little Red Treasure
Throughout history, many have touted pomegranate benefits. It’s been known as a medicinal fruit around the world, but its superfood status and delicious flavor have recently made it more and more popular in the United States. Many health industry experts have dubbed it a “miracle fruit” since it is packed with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Pomegranate Benefits: Key Ingredients
Categorized as berries, pomegranates contain an incredible number of antioxidants in their juice, peels, and hundreds of arils (seeds). Research shows that pomegranates have a greater antioxidant capacity than red wine, cranberry juice, green tea, grape juice, or acai juice. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Folic Acid
- Ellagic Acid
Beyond containing these vitamins and minerals, research suggests eating pomegranates or drinking their juice can help fight diseases, certain cancers, aging, and more. “Pomegranate juice contains polyphenols that act as antioxidants, protecting the body against oxidative stress that plays a role in the development of cancers, inflammation, and heart disease,” lifestyle pharmacist Jamie Hardy, Ph.D., notes. Studies have also shown that pomegranate juice can help protect against Alzheimer’s and dental plaque, and it may even help drive weight loss.
Because this bitter fruit is so versatile, researchers are still extensively studying all that pomegranates can offer. Here’s one thing they do know: A pomegranate is a powerhouse of benefits. Read on to discover 10 of them:
Pomegranate Benefits #1. It Gets Your Blood Pressure In Check
A study found that people with high blood pressure who drank 5 ounces of pomegranate juice every day for two weeks saw a significant reduction in their blood pressure. Hardy claims that the polyphenols in the juice are responsible for reducing systolic blood pressure through various mechanisms. “For this reason, it may be beneficial to add it as a part of a comprehensive blood pressure reduction strategy that combines pharmacotherapy and dietary therapy,” she says.
Pomegranate Benefits #2. It Lowers Your Cholesterol And Risk For Heart Disease
Evidence suggests that pomegranates may have a positive effect on your cholesterol levels by lowering “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in your bloodstream. The fruit also works to prevent plaque buildup in your arteries using its phytochemicals, which reduce LDL oxidation (a big contributor to plaque formation), thus reducing your risk for heart disease.
Pomegranate Benefits #3. It Fights Anemia Symptoms
Research shows that pomegranates (in any form) supply your body with iron — a mineral that helps reduce anemia symptoms such as weakness, exhaustion, dizziness, and hearing loss, and improves your body’s ability to absorb iron. If you are anemic, try eating a medium-sized pomegranate in the morning on an empty stomach or drinking a glass of pomegranate juice with your breakfast.
Pomegranate Benefits #4. It Offers Plaque Protection
Pomegranate juice drinkers can expect cleaner teeth. Why? Along with its antibacterial and antiviral properties, the juice protects against dental plaque microorganisms. A study in the Ancient Science of Life found that drinking pomegranate juice (without sugar) reduced plaque-forming units by 32 percent through its polyphenols, ellagic acids, and tannins.
Pomegranate Benefits #5. You’ll Have Clearer Skin
Pomegranates are rich in punicic acid, an omega-5 fatty acid that keeps your skin moisturized. They contain compounds that stop collagen breakdown, keeping your skin soft, smooth, and firm. Pomegranates even prevent acne by regulating the production of sebum, the oily substance your skin secretes that causes pimples, and by reducing skin inflammation.
Pomegranate Benefits #6. It’ll Keep You Looking Young
Pomegranates have several anti-aging properties that will leave your skin feeling young. It helps strengthen the outer layer of your skin, repairs skin damage, extends the life of the cells that produce elastin and collagen, and reduces inflammation, leaving you with less wrinkles and more youthful looking skin. You’ll see the oil produced from pomegranate seeds listed as a common ingredient in serums, facial creams, and massage oils because of these qualities and its non-greasy texture. Pomegranate juice can also help protect your skin from sun damage by fighting off free radicals, leaving you with less age spots.
Pomegranate Benefits #7. It May Help You Lose Weight
Due to high levels of fiber and vitamin C in its seeds and leaf extract, pomegranates can help curb your hunger. Holistic health coach Connie Rogers says that “pomegranate leaf extract can be used as an appetite suppressor for obesity.” Studies show that, along with suppressing appetite, the leaf extract slows down energy intake and decreases lipase activity in the pancreas.
However, Dr. Brian Griffin, owner of Blue Tree Health Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas, says to be careful when considering pomegranates for weight loss:
Pomegranates and pomegranate juice do contain some high concentrates of helpful dietary supplements like lycopene (found in tomatoes) and vitamin C. However, one glass of pomegranate juice can contain up to three times the calories as a cup of orange juice — sometimes four times as much sugar. Overall, adding fruits and vegetables to a diet can rarely hurt a weight loss regimen. But, everything in moderation.
Pomegranate Benefits #8. It Can Protect Against Breast Cancer
Pomegranates are one of few foods that contain natural aromatase inhibitors. This means that they can prevent the reproduction of breast cancer cells and even kill some of them. Research shows that polyphenols in pomegranate juice are effective in cancer cells in the breast duct lining and that pomegranate oil can help prevent the spread of cancer cells by up to 90 percent.
Pomegranate Benefits #9. It Protects Against Other Cancers
Pomegranates can combat certain cancers because of their high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A, and iron. These vitamins and minerals stop free radicals from damaging cells. The fruit also, along with its juice, oil, and extract, exerts anti-inflammatory properties that fight cancers. In addition to breast cancer, pomegranates are commonly associated with preventing prostate, skin, colon, and lung cancer. Let’s be clear: pomegranates aren’t a magical healer for cancer. However, they can be helpful in preventing tumors.
Pomegranate Benefits #10. It Can Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers at the University of Huddersfield found that a natural compound in pomegranates (punicalagin) uses its anti-inflammatory properties to help treat neuroinflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It can also help slow down its progression.
Start Reaping the Pomegranate Benefits
You don’t have to go pomegranate crazy. Just try throwing some into your daily or weekly diet. “If you love pomegranates, as I do, you can eat them daily in salads or for a healthy snack,” Rogers says. They can also be taken in the form of juice, seeds, supplements, syrup, paste, nectar or concentrate. Take your pick!
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