benefits of pomegranate

Pomegranates, the glorious red fruits are a powerhouse for nutrients and has amazing medicinal benefits. Research studies show that pomegranates have incredible benefits, contain good sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and prevents all sort of diseases. Here is a concise list of the benefits of pomegranate.

Pomegranate fruits are considered one of the most popular nutritionally rich fruits containing a unique taste and health promoting characteristics.

Nutrition information

Pomegranate fruit carries about 83 calories per 100g, 4g dietary fibre, 1.67g protein, 38mg folate, 10.2mg vitamin C, 0.60mg vitamin E, 16.4mg vitamin K, 3mg sodium, 236mg potassium, 10mg calcium, 12mg magnesium, 36mg phosphorous,  0.5mg selenium, 0.35mg zinc. Pomegranate also contains few micrograms of niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, thiamin, riboflavin.

Health benefits of pomegranate

Pomegranates have been consumed throughout history for their amazing health benefits. The rind of a pomegranate, the arils (the juicy seeds) and even its inner skin have therapeutic properties. Due to these reasons, pomegranates are widely sued in the treatment of diseases like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, male infertility and Alzheimer’s disease. The juice of pomegranate can also help to delay aging.

Boosts heart health

Heart diseases are becoming increasingly common due to the current lifestyle, pollution and choices of food consumption. Another common disease, hypertension is one of the most important drivers of heart attacks and stroke. Pomegranate juice contains antioxidants and bioactive polyphenols that promote cardiovascular health. This antioxidant keeps bad cholesterol from accumulating and hence keeps the heart clear of any clots. Pomegranate juice has the ability to make the blood thinner which reduces the probability of blood clots. Regular consumption of pomegranate juice increases the amount of good cholesterol or HDL.

Maintains blood sugar level

Pomegranate has been traditionally used as a herbal remedy to treat diabetes in India and Middle East. Small doses of pomegranate juice does not elevate the blood sugar levels as many other fruit juices do. This is due to its anti-diabetic property. The compounds ellagic, ursolic acid, and gallic acid have anti-diabetic properties, which prevents type 2 diabetes.

Boosts immunity

Pomegranate seed contains high amounts of antioxidants which activates the white blood cells in the body. This in turn neutralizes toxins present in the body. Thus promotes healthy and strong immune system. It also helps to treat several diseases associated with a weakened immune system. Methanol  extracts of pomegranate fruit, especially the peel shows the broadest antibacterial activity. The extracts are high in ellagic acid, hydrolyzable tannins, gallic acid and component of gallotannins. This shows an increased antioxidant activity of pomegranate. In Ayurveda pomegranate has been used as a traditional herbal remedy for different infections and diseases(1).

Boosts digestive health

Pomegranate seeds are rich in B-complex vitamins and fibre. B-complex vitamin help the  body to convert fat, protein, and carbohydrates into energy. Pomegranate plays a vital role in the secretion of enzymes, thus aids proper digestion. Pomegranate seeds have anti-inflammatory properties that can treat other gastrointestinal issues like ulcerative colitis. Fibre is another essential nutrient which prevents and treats constipation and other digestives problems.

Regulates blood pressure

Pomegranate seeds contain antioxidants and bioactive polyphenols that promotes cardiovascular health, reduces lesions and inflammation of blood vessels. It is a natural aspirin which keeps the blood in liquid form and prevents blood clots. Pomegranate also has punicic acid which is the main constituent that help lower blood pressure.

Study published in phytotherapy Research found that regular intake of pomegranate juice for two weeks acts as a cardio protective supplement for hypertensive subjects and lowers blood pressure naturally.

Fights cancer

Many research study proved that pomegranate seeds are a potent cancer-fighting food. Pomegranate has been exhibit to exert anti-tumour effects on various types of cancer cells. Pomegranate seed oil has Omega-5 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid and punicic acid that inhibit the breast cancer proliferation. Men whose prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels double in a short period of time are at greater risk of the consequences of prostate cancer. Pomegranate extract can slow down cancer cell production, and result in apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. You can consume fresh pomegranate juice regularly to prevent various types of cancer.

Treats diarrhea and dysentery

The arils present in each pomegranate fruit can cure stomach disorders such as diarrhea, dysentery and cholera. Pomegranate juice promotes the secretion of enzymes which aids in proper digestion. When you have indigestion or a bloated feeling, drink a glass of pomegranate juice with honey.

Prevents anemia

Pomegranate contains sufficient amounts of iron which helps to improve hemoglobin levels in the blood and cure red blood cell deficiency in the body. Regular intake of pomegranate juice supplies iron to the blood, reduces the symptoms of anemia like dizziness, exhaustion, weakness, and hearing loss.

Treats arthritis pain

Pomegranate juice contains flavonols, which are phytochemical compounds found in a variety of plant based foods. These flavonols reduces inflammation which contributes to cartilage damage and osteoarthritis.

Flushes kidney stone

Pomegranate fruit or its juice is considered effective home remedy to treat painful kidney stones. Drinking pomegranate juice is a great idea to make the toxins to move through the body rather than taking up residence in the body. Pomegranate juice reduces the acidity levels in the body – this means that it can naturally balance the pH levels. This in turn can prevent the formation of stones in the kidney. Antioxidants present in pomegranate protects our body from bacteria and infections.

Increases memory power

Research studies show that pomegranate juice can increase memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints. In this juice. the participants were randomly assigned to drink 8 ounces of pomegranate juice for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, they showed a significant improvement in learning and memory(2).

Improves athletic performance

Pomegranate juice contains powerful antioxidants and many nutrients. Regular exercise is good for health but it does place stress on our body. The muscle tissue, cells and nervous system may undergo varying degrees of stress depending on our workout intensity. Both exercise induced stress and oxidative stress can be reduced with the help of pomegranate juice. Polyphenols and bioflavonoids are antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation, clear toxins and decrease cellular damage in the body. Also pomegranate juice is a rich source of quercetin which helps with muscle recovery and improved exercise performance.

Infertility and sexual health

Oxidative stress is main cause for erectile dysfunction and decrease fertility in women. Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the free radical production and the ability of the body to detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants. Drinking pomegranate juice may help to reduce oxidative stress and can also increase testosterone levels in both men and women. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that stimulates sex drive.

Beneficial for prenatal care

As pomegranates are rich in vitamins and minerals including folic acid, it is a great food for pregnant women. Also, its anti-inflammatory property ensures healthy blood flow, which is highly essential for the overall development of the foetus. Substantial potassium content prevents leg cramps that is common with pregnancy. Daily intake of pomegranate fruit reduces the risk of premature child birth and birth of babies with low weight.

Excellent anti-aging agent

Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, and loaded with antioxidants like proanthocyanidins and flavonoids which work great for the skin. Vitamin C is a quite important nutrient needed for skin health. You can make homemade pomegranate face pack to delay signs of aging. Take pomegranate peel powder, honey and lemon juice. Mix them well and make paste. Apply this paste on face and neck and leave for fifteen minutes. This face pack can  treat pigmentation, removes dark spots, wrinkles, and even brighten the skin naturally.

One more anti-agent pomegranate face pack. Peel and cut 2 slices of beetroot, get the extract. Take one star anise, boil in water, strain and keep aside. Take two teaspoons of multani mitti in a bowl, add two teaspoons beetroot extract and one teaspoon star anise water. Mix them well and apply it on the face and neck. Leave the pack for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse off with lukewarm water. This will treat wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, pimples. Regular application of this face pack gives instant glow and radiant skin.

Treats all types of skin issues

Pomegranate juice is suitable for all types of skin issues. Just apply pomegranate juice on dry skin, its small molecular structure deeply get into the skin to provide sufficient amount of moisture and hydration to the skin.

Iron deficiency remedies

Improves skin structure and heals scars

Pomegranate are known to widen the life of fibroblasts. Fibroblast is a type of cell, which is responsible for the production of collagen and connective tissues. This prevents the formation of wrinkles and fine lines. Both collagen and connective tissues provide strength and support to the skin. A glass of pomegranate juice everyday provides fair and glowing skin tone. Pomegranate seed oil is loaded with nutrients and many of them are skin friendly nutrients. All those nutrients has the ability to hasten the process of healing of wounds and beneficial for strengthening and regeneration of cells.

Prevents skin cancer

Pomegranate seed contains hydrolysable tannins and anthocyanins. These compounds possess strong antioxidant and anti-tumor properties. So if we apply the pomegranate extract directly on the skin, the ellagic acid, a polyphenol found in the juice inhibits the growth of cancer cells on the skin.

Pomegranate for hair health

The powerful antioxidant and nutrients presents in pomegranate strengthens hair follicles and improves blood circulation to the scalp. Pomegranate seed oil is very effective in treating  kinky, frizzy and entangled hair. Especially, the punicic acid found in pomegranate seed oil makes hair strong and stimulates hair growth.

How to include pomegranate in your diet?

You can consume pomegranates as a fresh fruit or juice. If you make a juice using pomegranates, use a strainer to remove the seeds after blending to make it more palatable. Although, seeds definitely are nutrition rich. You can pair these arils with fresh yogurt and this will be a healthy snack option for kids.

Native pomegranates are sometimes very light red red or yellowish in colour on the outside. They still taste great. Do not just go by the colour and choose varieties that are native to your country.

Who should avoid pomegranates?

If you have a low blood pressure condition, it is best to avoid pomegranates as they can further reduce blood pressure levels. Too much pomegranate, especially in the form of a juice can lead to increase in sugar levels for those diagnosed with diabetes. In small doses, it can be beneficial. Consume in small doses and check to see if youa re allergic to the fruit before making it a part of your regular diet.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.