Health

15 Health Benefits of Pomegranate, According to Science (+8 Delicious Recipes)

Pomegranates are probably most widely known for how difficult they are to open.

Pomegranates are easily recognizable because of their round, red exterior, about the size of a baseball.

They grow on trees approximately 15 feet high.

And as we mentioned, they are difficult to get open. (1)

Pomegranates are a relatively new superfood in western diets, but have been around and used in the middle east and Asia for thousands of years. (2)

But opening them is very important as that is where the edible seeds are located. There can be upward of 1400 seeds, or arils, per fruit.

You can also drink the juice, sugar free, and get the same powerful benefits of the arils.

Pomegranates are an excellent source of antioxidants, are anti inflammatory, and high in vitamin C and fiber, to name a few. (1)

After reading these health facts about pomegranates, you’ll agree that they are worth the fuss.

1. Pomegranates Are a Great Natural Anti Inflammatory

If you are experiencing inflammation, it is your body’s way of protecting itself from any number of harmful things including illness or infection.

Long term inflammation can lead to diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer's. (3)

Pomegranate juice can lower C-reactive proteins. (4)

C-reactive proteins, or CRP, are created in the liver and increase in the presence of inflammation. (5)

Specifically, the polyphenols in the pomegranate are what keep your cells healthy and safe and therefore keeps the body from needed to protect itself in the form of inflammation. (6)

Take away: Pomegranates protect your body on a cellular level so it doesn’t have to go into “protection mode”

2. Pomegranates Have Strong Antioxidants

Thanks to large molecules called punicalagins, pomegranates are great antioxidants.

The antioxidant value of pomegranates are about three times as strong as green tea or red wine.

While the only way to get pomegranate juice into your body is orally, punicalagins are not as fully absorbed in this manner; less than 10% absorption.

In order for it to begin impacting your bloodstream, you would need to ingest 800mg of pomegranate. (7)

The antioxidants help manage free radicals.

We are exposed to free radicals in our everyday lives in the form of pollution and the sun. And our bodies make their own free radicals.

Antioxidants keep cells healthy and damage free. (8)

One cup of pomegranate seeds has over 30% of the DV (daily recommended value) of vitamin C. (9)

Vitamin C, among its other health benefits is a very powerful antioxidant. However, when more than 2000 mg are taken, it can cause issues with some people. (8)

Take away: Vitamin C is the key to being free radical free

3. Pomegranates Can Help With Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction can be brought on in a number of ways. But if there is an underlying health issue it should be addressed.

There are few pharmaceuticals that one can take to help this condition, but if you are looking for natural remedies, there are also options for that.

Supplements that can help are ginkgo biloba and ginseng.

But for overall health, increased circulation and stress reduction, you need look no further than pomegranates. (10)

Pomegranates increase the production of testosterone which is responsible for men’s health, inside and out. (11)

In one test, pomegranates were credited with raising testosterone levels 24% and also lowering blood pressure. (12)

Pomegranates also increase nitric oxide, a key ingredient for getting an erection. While other fruit juices boost nitric oxide, pomegranate tends to increase it the most. (11)

Take away: Before you try a prescription with potentially hard side effects, try a pomegranate

4. Pomegranate Can Reduce the Chance of Breast Cancer

In addition to boosting testosterone, pomegranates can also block or manage the production of estrogen in both males and females. (11)

Estrogen is important in both genders. However too much estrogen is a bad thing and can lead to breast cancer.

Phytochemicals stop the growth of tumors and slow estrogen production so that breast cancer cells do not spread.

They also stop the enzyme aromatase which also creates estrogen and therefore cancer growth. (13)

Ellagic acid, found in pomegranates, also slow the ability of tumors to create the blood vessels they need to survive in the body. (14)

Pomegranates are particularly helpful for postmenopausal women who need estrogen.

This fruit, either in the form of the oil extract, wine or just juice, replaces lost estrogen, while starving the estrogen dependant cancer cells. (15)

Take away: Estrogen; our friend and our enemy. Balanced by pomegranate

5. Pomegranates Reduce LDL Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is the bad kind of cholesterol. It clogs and hardens arteries and increases the chance for heart disease.

Pure pomegranate juice slows this process down. (16)

Typically, people are given statins to lower bad cholesterol.

The phytosterols in pomegranates both lowers the existing LDL cholesterol and stops the production of more bad cholesterol.

The extra benefit? No nasty side effects from taking a pharmaceutical. (17)

Pomegranates have a higher content of the LDL cholesterol fighting phytosterols than most other fruit juices.

In its pure form (no added sugars and real fruit juice) it is most beneficial and is recommended to be your go-to fruit juice. (18)

Take away: Builds and keeps a strong, healthy heart and cardiovascular system

6. Pomegranates Reduce Joint Pain and Other Issues Associated with Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. As we learned in our first point, inflammation is the body’s response to unfavorable conditions. (3)

Specifically when talking about rheumatoid arthritis, pomegranates can slow the progression of the disease and even be an effective pain management option.

In RA, there is a specific enzyme that wrecks havoc on joints.

In 2011, there was a study done that showed pomegranate reduced the production of this enzyme. (19)

From a proactive perspective, pomegranates have been proven to prevent chondrocyte damage, reducing cell inflammation in joints. They also protect cartilage from damage. (20)

It is advised that when using pomegranates as an arthritis treatment, you ingest only local, organic pomegranates. (21)

Take away: Help your body help you, the natural way

7. Pomegranates Are Naturally Antibacterial and Antifungal

Pomegranates have been used since time immemorial for its antibacterial prowess.

The rinds and the bark of the trees are used for treating digestive issues like diarrhea.

It is the oligomeric ellagitannin (tannins) in the rind that give pomegranates antibacterial traits. (22) ; (23)

Pomegranates are often used in holistic or natural treatments of tapeworms or other intestinal worms.(24)

The antifungal properties are also found in the rind.

In the case of dermatophytosis, or fungal infections of skin, hair or nails, the extract of the rind combined with punicalagin was most effective. (25)

Pomegranate is also effective against Candida. It can even be effective against drug resistant Candida. (26)

Take away: Tummy or fungi troubles? Reach for a pomegranate

8. Pomegranates Are Packed With Nutrients

As we have alluded, pomegranates are a heavyweight when it comes to nutritional value.

Considering that the actual edible part of a pomegranate is small seeds, in just one cup of those seeds you can find (9) :

Vitamin K: 58% daily value (DV)

Vitamin C: 48% DV

Fiber: 45% DV

Folate: 27% DV

Copper: 22% DV

Potassium: 19% DV

Manganes: 17% DV

Omega 6 Fatty Acids: 223mg

But the true value of a pomegranate comes in the form of plant compounds. (27)

Take away: Lots of health packed into a bunch of tiny arils

9. Pomegranates Have Powerful Plant Compounds

Pomegranate seed oil is over 75% punicic acid, the first of the plant compounds.

Punicic acid is specialized to the pomegranate and the pomegranate oil and also snake gourd. It is found in the rind and the seeds. (28) ; (29)

It is a fatty acid similar to omega 5 fatty acid, but they are not the same.

Punicic acid is the characteristic of pomegranates that impacts prostate cancer. (29)

Punicalagin is responsible for most of the benefits that pomegranates provide us.

They are the cancer stopping, fungi fighting, heart healthy, free radical destroying polyphenol that make the pomegranate our friend. (30)

Punicalagin is found in the rind as well as the shell, or peel, of the pomegranate and can be extracted and consumed in a number of different ways. (31)

Take away: Plant benefits from a plant; it’s good for you anyway you put it in your body

10. Pomegranates Are Great for Skin Health

Pomegranates are just as good for your outside as it is for your insides.

Specifically, because of their antioxidant traits, pomegranates keep skin healthy and nourished, encourage regeneration and keep free radicals at bay.

The high amount of vitamin C promotes anti aging by promoting collagen production. Collagen is made up of fibers and proteins which make the skin stronger.

The juice and oil can be applied directly to the skin where the nutrients are absorbed, providing health benefits and moisture.

While the seeds can be ground up and used as an exfoliant. (32)

Pomegranates can also treat acne. Acne is not always caused by hormones. It can also be caused by poor health or health issues.

Since pomegranates are beneficial for total body health, they can reduce at least one biologica factor of acne.

Because of their antioxidant and anti inflammatory traits, pomegranate are also helpful as an after sun product.

Pomegranate is a popular skin care product because it not as greasy as other products. (33)

Take away: Inside and out; pomegranates are great

11. Pomegranate Juice is Key to Oral Health

The important part to using pomegranate juice for oral health is making sure that the juice is sugar free.

The naturally occurring plant compounds make it very difficult for plaque to build up on your teeth if you drink pomegranate juice. (33)

In addition to reducing plaque and tarter there are some studies that suggest pomegranate compounds can help with gum strength which can keep teeth stationary. (34)

While the benefits are hard to ignore, it is important to note that pomegranate juice is acidic. While it does have positive implications, it can also deteriorate the actual tooth if used too often. (35)

Another option is to use a powder made from pomegranate rinds to make a mouthwash. Find the directions here . (36)

Take away: When used appropriately, pomegranates are great for oral health

12. Pomegranates Can Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can be biologically inherited or it can be situational. Regardless, regular consumption of as little as 2-5 ounces of pomegranate juice can help lower blood pressure.

As with the other uses, it is important to make sure that your pomegranate juice is sugar free. Sugar increases blood pressure so that would negate your effort. (37)

The same antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties that are helpful for skin and joint issues are what keep arteries from hardening.

The less hardening of the arteries, the lower your blood pressure. (38)

Some studies suggest that pomegranate juice can not only stop the hardening of arteries, but it can also reverse preexisting damage. (37)

Take away: Lower your stress, eat pomegranates

13. Pomegranates Can Boost Brain Function

Pomegranates are beneficial for brains of all ages. Including those not born yet.

Since the brain is only part of the machine that is the human body, the antioxidants that keep the rest of the body healthy keep the brain healthy too.

Again, thanks to those powerful antioxidants, pomegranates have been shown to increase brain function in lab mice.

In Utero, pomegranate juice can help protect the brain if the infant is starved of oxygen. (39)

Pomegranate can not only make your brain function better, but it can also help your memory.

One study showed that after only a month of regular pomegranate juice consumption, participants felt their memory was better and they also performed better in verbal and memory tests. (40)

Finally, pomegranates contain a lot of glucose. Since the brain turns glucose into energy, it only makes sense that the brain would function better with more healthy energy. (39)

Take away: Be smart, remember to eat pomegranates

14. Pomegranate Can Help With Anemia

Anemia is an iron deficiency in the blood that can result in dizziness and lack of energy. (41)

While pomegranates only have 5% DV of iron per serving, that can help! (9)

It is advised to eat an entire serving of pomegranate or a glass of pomegranate juice on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. (42)

Take away: Pomegranates are a good source of iron so you have the energy to keep pumping iron

15. Pomegranates Have a Lot of Vitamin C

The amount of vitamin C in a pomegranate is impressive to say the least.

Because of the high content of vitamin C, pomegranate can help with asthma, cough, sore throat, cold and flu.

The flower of the pomegranate tree can be crushed, made into a tea and consumed for the cough and other flu like symptoms. Add a touch of honey to really feel better.

The anti inflammatory traits can reduce the swelling in the lungs, especially of younger children. Easing the impact of asthma. (43)

Take away: Pomegranates are good for all of your health needs. Even chronic issues

Now that you know all of the health benefits of pomegranate, here are 8 ways to get it into your diet!

8 Pomegranate Recipes

1. Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate benefits come from eating the fruit itself or in the form of juice. If you want to be 100% sure what is in your juice, you can make it yourself! You can use this recipe to start.

Equal number of grapefruit, oranges, tangerines and pomegranate (2 of each will yield 3 servings)

1/2 of a lime

  • Squeeze juice out of all citrus fruits except for pomegranate
  • Use a juicer to juice  the pomegranate in separate container
  • Pour fruit juice into glasses
  • Pour pomegranate juice into the glasses, which will separate and set on the bottom and serve

2. Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce

Pomegranates do not need to be the star of the show. They compliment most other foods nicely and can be added together with other berries for maximum enjoyment. Try this this recipe for your next Thanksgiving to add a little healthy to your holiday!

1 bag of cranberries

1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)

1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

3 sprigs thyme

1 cup pomegranate seeds

  • Bring all ingredients, except pomegranate seeds, to a boil in a medium pot
  • After 5 minutes, remove thyme and remove from heat
  • Add pomegranate seeds and serve

This can be made ahead, just wait to add pomegranate seeds until just before serving.

3. Pomegranate Martini

Adding pomegranate to alcohol is sure to remove most if not all health benefits. But you can’t be good all the time, right? This recipe is sure to please everyone

6 oz Gin (your preferred brand)

Grenadine to taste (to tone down the gin)

1/4 cup pomegranate syrup (you can make your own by boiling sugar, water and pomegranate juice)

1 lemon (juice of)

1 orange (juice of)

1/4-1/2 cup pomegranate arils

  • Combine all ingredients (except pomegranate arils) in a large bowl
  • Ladle into 4 martini glasses
  • Add pomegranate arils for garnish (or just to snack on)

4. Pomegranate Cake

This recipe comes from the Pomegranate Council. Here is their pomegranate cake recipe. Proof that you can make any healthy thing unhealthy.

2 eggs

3/4 cups sugar

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup pomegranate juice

1 1/4 cup pomegranate arils

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Beat eggs in medium bowl and add sugar slowly until mixture is airy
  • Sift together baking powder and flour
  • Divide mixture into thirds
  • Add dry ingredients a third at a time to the egg mixture, alternating with 1/3 cup pomegranate juice until combined
  • Gently combine 3/4 cup arils into the mixture
  • Coat 8 inch pan with non-stick spray
  • Put batter into pan
  • Cook for 40 minutes, checking at 35 minutes for doneness
  • Let cake cool in pan
  • Remove from pan when cool and frost
  • Top with remaining arils

5. Pomegranate Jelly

Allrecipes.com suggests trying it on your pancakes!

4 cups pomegranate juice (or arils from 8 pomegranates, blended into juice)

7 1/2 cups sugar

2 lemons (juice of)

6 oz pectin

  • Combine all ingredients (except pectin) to large pot and boil
  • Once boiling, stir in pectin
  • Bring back to boil for 30 seconds
  • Remove from heat
  • Remove foam
  • If you used arils instead of juice, strain through a cheesecloth before jarring
  • Ladle into jars and seal

6. Pomegranate Rice

This can be served on its own as a side, or with chicken. Another savory option for the pomegranate!

1 green onion

1 tablespoon oil (canola is recommended)

1 cup jasmine (or white rice)

2 teaspoons grated ginger

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

14 oz chicken broth (to make this a vegan option, add vegetable broth instead)

1/4 cup water (for sweeter rice, add 1/4 cup pomegranate juice)

1/2 cup nuts (pistachios are recommended, but you can use any you prefer)

1 cup pomegranate arils

  • Chop green onion and cook in oil, medium heat
  • Check at 4 minutes for tenderness
  • Add ginger, cinnamon and rice and cook for another 5 minutes, stir occasionally
  • Rice should be brown, but not burned
  • Add chicken broth and bring to boil
  • Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, covered
  • Remove from heat
  • Covered, let stand for 10 minutes
  • Gently combine pomegranate seeds and nuts
  • Add lemon zest

7. Smoothies

This is super easy. You'll probably want to use sugar free pomegranate juice in the smoothie. Arils are just fine, but depending on your blender, you might have tiny seed slivers in your smoothie. Note: any of the fruits listed can be either fresh or frozen and you make any substitution you like. You can even prep ingredients in bags ahead of time so you just have to add liquid and blend. Easy!

1/2 cup strawberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 banana

1 mango

1 cup pomegranate seeds (optional if you use the juice)

3/4-1 cup pomegranate juice to preferred thickness (can be switched out with orange juice, water, almond milk etc... if you prefer to use the arils)

  • Blend
  • Enjoy!

8. Literally Anything

Pomegranate arils can be put on almost anything. Your morning cereal? Add some pomegranate. Hot oatmeal? Load it up! Salad? Yes, please! Fruit salad? You’d be silly not to add them. You could even pop one open and have an aril snack. Sweet or savory, pomegranates can compliment any meal.

Other than getting the darn things open, there is no excuse for not getting some pomegranate into your life.

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