Pomegranates are such beautiful fruits. That wonderful ruby color of their seeds/arils. I love using them in both savory and sweet dishes for that rich color and jewel-like appearance. But they are so much more than pleasant to look at. They are packed with nutrients and micronutrients, providing a wide range of health benefits.
Let’s take a look at the infographic below for more about the nutritional facts and health benefits of pomegranates:
Whole fruit or juice
Most the research on pomegranates is conducted using pomegranate juice or supplements as it is easy for people to consume and monitor their intake. But that doesn’t negate eating the arils/seeds of the fruit. They are a great source of fiber and many vitamins, as seen above. So choose either. If you do choose to drink juice, read the label to make sure you get unsweetened 100% pomegranate juice. Many are mixed with other fruit juices or have added sugar, so you want to avoid those. Go for just the pom juice.
And as you will see below, the amount of juice consumed in these studies to get health benefits is relatively low. It’s frequently just 2 or 4 oz a day, so don’t drink too much. It can be just a little splash in a smoothie or use the juice to wash down your supplements. Its strong flavor is a good masker for those less than tasty supplements!
Pomegranate Health benefits
Many of the health benefits of pomegranates are due to their large amounts of antioxidants and polyphenols. Let’s take a quick look at the evidence behind the key benefits:
- blood pressure lowering – a meta-analysis and systematic review showed that daily pomegranate juice consumption significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- prevents atherosclerosis – in a study on subjects with high cholesterol, taking 400mg pomegranate seed oil twice a day for four weeks resulted in a significant decrease in triglyceride and triglyceride:cholesterol ratio compared to those taking a placebo. Also, a study looking at people consuming 50ml (<2oz) pomegranate juice/day for 3 months saw a reduction in oxidative stress markers associated with atherosclerosis and an increase in glutathione levels.
- reduces oxidative stress – beyond its atherosclerotic effects, daily consumption of pomegranate juice (200ml) is seen to improve oxidative stress, which is linked to many chronic illnesses.
- controls blood glucose – a study showed that drinking about 3.5oz pomegranate juice decreased fasting serum glucose and insulin resistance and increased beta cell function. Taking a 1000mg pomegranate extract supplement for 30 days was also seen to improve markers of oxidative stress, serum lipids, glucose, and insulin levels in overweight and obese individuals.
- boosts fertility – in men, pomegranate extract is seen to improve sperm count and sperm motility. Pomegranate juice has also been seen to increase testosterone levels. During pregnancy, pomegranate’s antioxidant effect is seen to protect the placenta.
- enhances exercise – pomegranate juice before exercise is seen to delay fatigue and increase oxygen supply.
- stimulate probiotic bacteria – many studies have found evidence of bacteria balancing effects of pomegranate in the mouth in connection to gingivitis, periodontal disease, stomatitis, and dental plaque.
In the following weeks, we will look further into pomegranates. This will include different ways we can eat them, and the science behind using pomegranates for cardiovascular health.
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