Pomegranate: A delight for the senses delivers outstanding health benefits

health benefits of pomegranate fruitVisually, pomegranate impresses with its red and glossy seeds that look like rubies. A tasting of this fruit will deepen the visual pleasure, uncovering an abundance of juiciness, sweetness, tartness and chewiness.

A tasty and good looking fruit is enough to captivate the senses, but, as it turns out, this delicious, playful and visually stunning winter treat is rich in healthy goodies that we can benefit from even if we consume pomegranate just for the sake of deep sensual delight.

Which part of pomegranate has health benefits—seeds, skin or arils?

Check, check and check. The beautiful fruit arils (colored and fleshy seed covering) are, in fact, mighty reservoirs of bioactive compounds, vitamins and minerals. They are especially high in Vitamin C. In addition, aril tissue contains high contents of vitamin B, especially pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), tocopherol (vitamin E) and phylloquinone (vitamin K). Importantly, pomegranate aril contains high concentrations of phenolic compounds, particularly anthocyanins that exhibit very beneficial effects on human health. Pomegranate seed oil contains tocopherols that contribute in major part to its notable antioxidant activity. The pomegranate skin is an important source of tannins and other valuable phenols. Some scientists say that the greatest bioactive potential of pomegranate is found in its skin[1].

Beneficial Compounds in Pomegranate Juice

The valuable compounds found in a commercial pomegranate juice that is prepared from aril, peel and seed contains gallotannin (tannic acid), quercetin (a powerful all-natural antioxidant), kaempferol (a polyphenol antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables), luteolin glycoside (flavonoid with anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties), catechin (natural phenol and antioxidant) and epicatechin (natural phenol and antioxidant).

Punicalagin (ellagitannin, a member of tannin family) and ellagic acid (a polyphenol found in pomegranate and berries) are the most abundant phenols found in pomegranate juice.

Folk Knowledge About Pomegranate

Folk experiences show that pomegranate reduces heart disease and cancer. Pomegranate is also known for its antimicrobial, antidiarrhoeal and antiulcer activities, increasing epididymal sperm concentration and reducing abnormal sperm rate. Pomegranate is beneficial against colic, colitis, dysentery, leucorrhea (vaginal disharge), menorrhagia (prolonged menstrual period), oxyuriasis (infestation with pinworms), paralysis and rectal prolapse[2].

health benefits of pomegranate

What are the Scientifically Proven Benefits of Pomegranate?

Science has established many important uses of pomegranate. Here, I will list how pomegranate benefits in the treatment of diabetes and the promotion of healthy heart, arteries and cholesterol.

Diabetes

A polyphenol-rich blend containing pomegranate, green tea and vitamin C  was found to reverse the factors that lead to cardiovascular problems in people with diabetes mellitus[3]. Pomegranate seed oil, which is a source of conjugate linolenic acid (CLA), improves insulin sensitivity, indicating that risk of developing type 2 diabetes may have been reduced. Pomegranate juice also reduces diabetes and obesity-associated fatty liver syndrome[4]. In addition to the healing benefits of seeds and juice, hypoglycemic activity was also noted from the flowers of pomegranate. The recent research confirms that both pomegranate flowers as well as juice helps in the treatment of diabetes. The main compounds that show anti-diabetic properties are oleanolic, ursolic, and gallic acid [5].

Arteries

Pomegranate juice, rich in tannins, has anti-atherosclerotic properties which could be related to its potent anti-oxidative characteristics [6]. Dietary supplementation with polyphenols to animals was shown to be associated with decrease of atherosclerosis development through the inhibition of LDL oxidation and macrophage foam cell formation [7].

Cholesterol

The consumption of concentrated pomegranate juice was shown to significantly reduce total cholesterol in type 2 diabetic patients [8]. Studies conducted in Israel have shown that pomegranate slowed down the oxidation of cholesterol by almost half [9].

Heart Health

Daily consumption of pomegranate juice improved stress-induced myocardial ischemia in patients who had coronary heart disease. A study of 45 participants with ischemic heart disease found that a group which received 8 1/2 oz. of pomegranate juice daily for three months improved blood flow to the heart by about 17%[10].

Other Health benefits

Pomegranate may exhibit the chemo-protective and chemo-therapeutic properties against various cancers, including skin cancers. In particular, ellagitannin from pomegranate juice was reported to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth in humans. Pomegranate extract was also found to exhibit therapeutic properties for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, by suppressing human mast cells.

Two Ideas for the Use of Pomegranate

Evidently, pomegranate is beneficial through and through. And it’s easy to enjoy it.

Here’s a recipe for colorful salad with pomegranate that’s very kid friendly (and parent approved) and rich in healthy phenols. I found this combination to be very pleasing to my little daughter—it’s playful, colorful, and so inviting for the kids.

Cucumber, Pear and Pomegranate Salad

cucumber pear and pomegranate saladIngredients:

  • 4 small cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced (apples and melon can work well too)
  • ¾ cup pomegranate seeds

Procedure:

Mix everything gently and add a healthy dressing of your choice. I serve this as a mid-day snack.

Festive Pomegranate Martini

For moms, dads, and other grownups, here is a festive cocktail that certainly benefits from the addition of fresh pomegranate.

Festive Pomegranate Martini

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces triple sec
  • 2 ounces freshly extracted pomegranate juice

Ingredients:

Combine vodka, triple sec and pomegranate juice in a shaker. Shake vigorously and serve in a chilled martini glass. Great for festive moments (including the New Year’s or Valentines’) or just to add a splash of color to dark winter evenings.

Cheers!


[1] Elfalleh, W., Tlili, N., Nasri, N., Yahia, Y., Hannachi, H., Chaira, N. & Ferchichi, A. (2011). Antioxidant capacities of phenolic compounds and tocopherols from Tunisian pomegranate (Punica granatum) fruits. Journal of food science, 76(5), C707-C713.

[2] Schubert, S. Y., Lansky, E. P., & Neeman, I. (1999). Antioxidant and eicosanoid enzyme inhibition properties of pomegranate seed oil and fermented juice flavonoids. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 66(1), 11-17.

[3] Fenercioglu, A. K., Saler, T., Genc, E., Sabuncu, H., & Altuntas, Y. (2010). The effects of polyphenol-containing antioxidants on oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in Type 2 diabetes mellitus without complications. J Endocrinol Invest, 33(2), 118-124.

[4] Xu, K. Z. Y., Zhu, C., Kim, M. S., Yamahara, J., & Li, Y. (2009). Pomegranate flower ameliorates fatty liver in an animal model of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 123(2), 280-287.

[5] Katz, S. R., Newman, R. A., & Lansky, E. P. (2007). Punica granatum: heuristic treatment for diabetes mellitus. Journal of medicinal food, 10(2), 213-217.)

[6] Aviram, M., & Dornfeld, L. (2001). Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis, 158(1), 195-198.

[7] Aviram, M., Rosenblat, M., Gaitini, D., Nitecki, S., Hoffman, A., Dornfeld, L. & Hayek, T. (2004). Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clinical Nutrition, 23(3), 423-433.

[8] Esmaillzadeh, A., Tahbaz, F., Gaieni, I., Alavi-Majd, H., & Azadbakht, L. (2006). Cholesterol-lowering effect of concentrated pomegranate juice consumption in type II diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research, 76(3), 147-151.

[9] Bowden, J. (2011). The most effective natural cures on earth: what treatments work and why.

[10] Bowden, J. (2011). The most effective natural cures on earth: what treatments work and why.

Credits: Flickr

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