Pomegranates are one of the popular fruits that are loved by many and these red and round shaped fruits with white inner flesh filled with juicy, crunchy edible seeds have many health benefits. Pomegranates are beneficial in various aspects of health, including brain health and immunity and are a must staple to include in your daily eating routine.
10 Lesser Known Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranates Are High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are responsible for protecting the cells of the body from damage that free radicals cause. Human body always has free radicals in it; however, excess of them causes harm and can contribute to various chronic illnesses.(1) Pomegranates are loaded with polyphenolic compounds and antioxidants, which provide protection from all this damage. Some of the main bioactive compounds linked with the antioxidant activity present in pomegranates are known as hydrolysable tannins, anthocyanins and punicalagins.(2, 3, 4)
Eating antioxidants rich vegetables and fruits including pomegranates is beneficial in prevent diseases and supporting overall health.(2)
Pomegranate Is Loaded With Nutrients
Arils are the edible pink seeds within the pomegranate, and while these can be a tedious task to extract them, when you consider the flavor and the nutritional profile they bring to the table, it is well worth to remove and consume them. Pomegranates are also low in fat and calories, but high in minerals, vitamins and fiber with a little bit of protein also.
The following is the nutrition profile for the pomegranate seeds or arils in a pomegranate fruit:(5) Calories: 234; Fat: 3.3 g; Carbohydrates: 52 g; Protein: 4.7 g; Fiber: 11.3 g; Sugar: 38.6 g; Calcium: 28.2 mg; Magnesium: 33.8 mg; Iron: 0.85 mg; Potassium: 666 mg; Phosphorus: 102 mg; Folate (vitamin B9): 107 mcg and Vitamin C: 28.8 mg
It should be borne in mind that the same nutrition cannot be found in pomegranate juice, as it contains less of vitamin C and fiber. Consumption of a whole pomegranate will provide additional fiber.(6)
Pomegranate Helps in Fighting Inflammation
When there is any injury or infection in the body, then having a temporary inflammatory response is normal. However, having chronic inflammation is not a good sign especially if it is not treated. When the inflammation is left untreated then it can be conducive to various chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Consumption of pomegranates helps in preventing chronic inflammation linked with the risk of chronic disease.(7) This nature of pomegranate of fighting the inflammation is due to punicalagins, which are the compounds present in them and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as seen in animal and test-tube studies.(8, 9, 10)
According to some human studies, drinking pomegranate juice also helps in decreasing the inflammation markers in the body.(11, 12, 13) However, more research is needed on this.
The Lesser Known Heart Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Studies have shown that fruits which have lot of polyphenolic compounds, including pomegranate are beneficial for heart health.(13, 4)
Test-tube studies have also shown that extract of the pomegranate can decrease the inflammation and oxidative stress in the arteries, reduce the blood pressure, and helps in fighting atherosclerosis, which can cause strokes and heart attacks.(4)
A study where individuals suffering from heart disease were given 1 cup pomegranate juice everyday for 5 days showed that the juice markedly reduced the severity and frequency of chest pain along with reducing certain biomarkers in the blood; all of which are indicative of a protective effect on the health of the heart.(14)
Pomegranates Can Contain Anticancer Properties
According to some test-tube studies, a few compounds present in the pomegranate juice, oil and the fruit itself helps in destroying the cancer cells or halt the cancer spread in the body.(3, 15, 16)
Human and test-tube studies have shown that pomegranate fights inflammation and delays the growth of the cancer cells. Not only this, the pomegranate fruit has shown anti-tumor effects in cancers of the colon, skin, prostate, breast and lungs.(3)
Further animal research has also revealed that pomegranate consumption helps in decreasing the growth of the tumor in the initial stages of cancer of the liver along with subduing the oxidative stress and inflammatory responses.(17)
An older test-tube study has shown that pomegranate extract can also be beneficial in not only delaying the growth, but even destroying the cancer cells of prostate.(18) A couple of older trials have revealed that men who consumed extract of pomegranate or drank pomegranate juice had significantly extended the PSA doubling time thus cutting down the risk of death from cancer of the prostate.(19, 20)
Urinary Health Also Can Benefit From Pomegranate
Human and test-tube studies have also shown that pomegranate extract can help in decreasing the kidney stones formation, which is a huge benefit thanks to the antioxidant properties of pomegranate.
In a study, adults who were aged 18 to 70 and who were having recurrent kidney stones, consumed 1,000 mg of pomegranate extract for three months. This was found to help suppresses the mechanism of kidneys stone formation.(21)
Animal studies have also shown that pomegranate extract helps in maintaining and regulating the concentration of phosphates, calcium and oxalates in the blood, all of which are components of kidney stones.(22)
Let’s Talk About the Antimicrobial Properties of Pomegranate
The compounds present in pomegranate helps in destroying microorganisms, such as some forms of yeast, fungi and bacteria.(23, 24)
Studies have shown that the properties present in the pomegranate help in protecting the oral health by killing the oral germs that cause problems, such as tooth decay and bad breath when they are present in excessive amounts.(25, 26)
A test-tube study has shown that the compounds present in pomegranate have antibacterial action against a bacterium known as Listeria monocytogenes present in moist surroundings, which can result in severe illness if swallowed.(27)
Pomegranate Boosts Exercise Endurance
Pomegranates have polyphenols in them, which helps in enhancing the exercise endurance and the duration of the time one can indulge in any physical activity before feeling tired.
A human study has showed that by consuming only a gram of pomegranate extract about half an hour before running had raised the time to tiredness by about 12%.(28)
Other research has discovered that pomegranate supplements can potentially improve muscle recovery as well as exercise endurance.(29) However, more studies are needed on this subject.
Pomegranate Supports Digestive Health
Research has shown that the gut bacteria determines the digestive health, and is also associated with the overall health of a person. For this pomegranate can be beneficial for your digestive health.(30, 31, 32)
Some animal studies have shown that pomegranate has anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects, which need gut activity and consists of ellagic acid content.(33, 34, 35)
According to test-tube studies pomegranate can also increase the amount of beneficial gut bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium suggestive of having prebiotic effects.(36)
As mentioned before the seeds of the pomegranate, which are aril, are rich in fiber which is vital for good digestive health and also offers protection against certain digestive problems, such as diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disease and colon cancer.(37)
Pomegranate Improves Your Brain Health
Ellagitannins are the compounds present in pomegranates, which behave as antioxidants and helps in decreasing the inflammation in the body along with giving protective benefits to your brain against conditions, which are triggered by oxidative stress and inflammation. There are some studies which have shown that ellagitannins can also benefit in protecting the brain from developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease by increasing the brain cells survival and cutting down the oxidative damage. (38, 39) They can also help a person to recover from hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.(38, 39)
It is also thought that ellagitannins present in pomegranate help in producing a compound in the gut known as urolithin A, which has been observed for helping to reduce inflammation in the brain and thus slow the onset of cognitive conditions.(38, 39, 40)
However, more studies are required for better understanding of the connection between brain health and pomegranate.
Pomegranates are the bright, red colored sweet and juicy fruits packed with edible and nutritious seeds inside. Pomegranates are beneficial for health, as they are full of minerals, vitamins, fiber and some protein. Not only this, this fruit is also rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds known as punicalagins, which are studied and known for their protective health benefits for brain, heart, digestive, prostate and urinary health. Not only this, this fruit is also shown to have anticancer benefits, along with supporting muscle recovery, exercise endurance and combating any harmful germs.
Although there are more studies needed for some of these potential benefits of pomegranate, but without a doubt pomegranate is not only a tasty fruit, but a nutritious fruit, which should be added to your daily diet.