The juicy and scarlet red seeds of the pomegranate fruit have long been consumed for their taste and numerous health benefits. Pomegranate has been a part of folk medicine to date. The fruit has now become incredibly popular for its nutritional value and is a crucial part of several healthy diets.
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Nutritional Benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranates are one of the most nutrition-dense fruits on Earth. A single cup (174 grams) of pomegranate seeds provides the following:
- Fiber – 7 grams
- Protein – 3 grams
- Vitamin K – 36% of your RDI
- Vitamin C – 30% of your RDI
- Potassium – 12% of your RDI
- Folate – 16% of your RDI
Apart from having a plethora of nutrients, pomegranates contain several formidable plant compounds; some of them have medicinal properties. Pomegranate juice contains diverse groups of polyphenols, including ellagitannins, gallotannins, and ellagic acid, as well as flavonoids, such as anthocyanins. However, its antioxidant activity is mainly due to punicalagin, anthocyanins, Punicic acid, and ellagic acid.
Punicalagins – This is a very strong plant antioxidant. It is found in the peel and juice of the pomegranate. Pomegranate juice has thrice the number of antioxidants compared to green tea and red wine. To harness this high antioxidant content, pomegranate powder and extract are sourced from the peel.
Punicic Acid – This compound is a fatty acid present in the pomegranate seeds or arils. It is an oil that is extracted from the seeds. It’s filled with conjugated linoleic acid; a potent oil with numerous biologic effects.
8 Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranates have numerous health benefits, such as:
1. Lowers risk of heart disease
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of premature death. A four-week study examined 51 patients with high triglyceride levels. They received 800 mg of pomegranate seed oil (punicic acid) per day for four weeks. When their triglyceride levels were measured after these four weeks, they had significantly reduced numbers.
2. Anti-inflammatory effects
Many diseases such as Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are driven by chronic inflammation. Pomegranates have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that are mediated by plant compounds called punicalagin. These antioxidants reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.
A 12-weeks study examined people with type 2 diabetes and inflammation. When these patients had 250ml of pomegranate juice every day, it lowered several inflammatory markers such as interleukin-6 and CRP by up to 32%.
3. Lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure is a key factor in strokes and heart attacks. In one study, patients received 150 ml of pomegranate juice every day for 14 days. These patients had a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure.
4. Helps combat cancer
A review of Pomegranate in prostate cancer has found pomegranate extract capable of slowing cancer cell reproduction and even inducing death in cancerous cells.
PSA or prostate-specific antigen is a blood marker that is used to identify the presence of prostate cancer. Men who have to develop twice the amount PSA in a short duration are at high risk for death from prostate cancer. However, a study found that by drinking 237ml of pomegranate juice each day, it doubled PSA time from 15 to 54 months.
5. Combats bacterial and fungal infections
Punicic acid and punicalagin in pomegranate help fight microorganisms. For instance, these two compounds combat fungal infections caused by Candida albicans. Their antifungal and antibacterial effects may act as barriers against dental infections such as periodontitis, denture stomatitis, tooth plaque, and gingivitis.
6. Pomegranate keeps premature aging at bay
Premature aging occurs when free radicals begin to form in our body due to exposure to the Sun and other harmful environmental toxins. Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, which help tackle free radicals and prevent their formation. This helps your skin appear younger and plumper by keeping fine lines and wrinkles at bay.
7. Helps fight arthritis and other joint pains
Since pomegranates have anti-inflammatory properties, they are strong contenders for fighting arthritis and other joint pains. They help relieve the discomfort and pain caused due to joint problems and enable you to live more comfortably. Consumption of pomegranate extract at least two times a day blocks the enzymes that are responsible for causing immense joint pains in people suffering from arthritis. It is recommended that you consume pomegranate extract for at least 12 weeks before this benefit starts reflecting in your body.
8. It boosts exercise performance
Your muscles can feel incredibly sore after a workout session. This makes you feel exhausted for several days and can even be quite uncomfortable for many people. Regular consumption of pomegranate juice has shown to be highly effective in delaying the onset of fatigue letting you work out for longer and also reducing muscle soreness post-workout.
Best ways to incorporate Pomegranate (healthy Indian recipes)
1. Pomegranate and Mint Raita
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Serves: 2 people
This raita can be enjoyed as a side dish with pulao or paratha.
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup of chopped mint leaves
- 1 cup of fresh yogurt
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon of water
- Put the yogurt in a bowl and beat it well.
- Add the water, salt, and red chili powder.
- Mix in the mint leaves and pomegranate seeds.
- Add a little cumin powder and mix well.
- Pour the raita into a serving bowl and top it with the rest of the cumin powder.
2. Pomegranate Detox Tea
- Prep time: 5 minutes
- Serves: 2 people
- 1 cup Pomegranate seeds
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Organic Honey (optional)
- 1/2 cup green tea (brewed)
- In a saucepan, add water, pomegranate seeds, and bring it to a boil on a medium flame for 4-5 minutes.
- Cool it slightly and blend it till smooth consistency. Strain mixture to avoid big lumps.
- Mix brewed green tea, lemon juice, Organic Honey, and serve immediately.
*Can be served warm and can be served chilled too.
3. Summer Pomegranate Slush
- Prep time: 6 hours
- Serves: 2 people
- 2 cups Pomegranate seeds
- 0.25 tsp – Pink salt
- 0.25 tsp – Roasted cumin seeds powder
- 1 tbsp – Organic Honey / Maple syrup
- Keep 1-2 tbsp seeds aside and blend rest in a mixer till smooth.
- Strain mixture if you don’t like pulpy slush.
- In a mixing bowl add pomegranate mixture, pink salt, cumin powder, and Organic Honey or Maple syrup.
- Mix well and transfer mixture to a shallow container. Freeze it for 6 hours.
- Remove it from the freezer and keep aside for 5-7 minutes.
- Scrape it with a spoon and serve in glasses garnished with Pomegranate seeds.
Pomegranates are nature’s bounty. This delightful fruit is filled with nutrition-packed benefits. From relieving inflammation to combating cancer, this superfood offers a lot of health benefits. Try to incorporate one pomegranate a day into your daily diet regimen to reap their many benefits.