The pomegranate (or Punica granatum) is a small tree or shrub that produces fruit, growing in the Northern and Southern hemispheres (depending on the time of year). The juice from the Pomegranate or the arils (pips/seed) are used in cooking, baking, juices and smoothies, cocktails and to top salads or other meals. Pomegranates are often branded as one of the superfood and one of the healthiest fruits available due to its numerous health benefits and nutritional make-up. It has grown in popularity in recent years. In this article, we will take a look at Pomegranate and Pomegranate Juice Health Benefits, the nutritional information and any side effects to be aware of to find out why this sweet fruit is a favorite among natural health lovers.
Pomegranate & Pomegranate Juice : Health Benefits
First things first, when we talk about Pomegranate, we mean the fruit or natural juice and not the added sugars and preservatives that come in shop-bought Pomegranate drinks etc. Pomegranate has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years in traditional cultures and has been branded a ‘cure’ for many health complaints. In its natural form, here are some of the claims made about Pomegranate and why it is often called a superfood…
- Rich source of nutrients:
Pomegranate is packed full of vitamins and minerals. These include being a rich source of Vitamin B (good for energy) and Vitamin C (good for our immune system), calcium (good for strong bones and teeth), magnesium (aids restful sleep) and iron (prevents anemia). It may be small, but it contributes in a big way to your daily recommended intake of these things. The edible arils provide lots of nutritious benefits to a healthy, balanced diet. Vitamins and minerals have various benefits including strengthening our immune system, increasing energy levels, improving eyesight and helping us get a clear skin or well-conditioned hair. They contribute to our general health, organ health, fighting disease and general wellbeing. Just adding a splash of Pomegranate juice to a smoothie or sprinkling some arils over your salad, will up your nutritional intake.
Chronic inflammation is not only incredibly painful, draining and can affect your moods, it can also be associated with serious diseases such as heart conditions and diabetes. Pomegranate has anti-inflammatory properties, called punicalagin. These antioxidants help reduce inflammation, swelling and pain all over the body – even helping fight against cancerous cells and digestive problems. Antioxidants occur naturally in fruits. They help prevent cell damage caused by oxidants (free radicals in the environment such as pollution or produced naturally in the body). Early tests on mice have shown that Pomegranate is effective in easing the onset and symptoms of joint conditions such as Arthritis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and slowing the rate at which cartilage protecting the bones deteriorates. More tests are needed, especially trials and tests on humans.
Pomegranate is said to help fight bacterial and fungal infections. The compounds in Pomegranate that act as an anti—bacterial and anti-fungal agent can fight harmful microorganisms and protect against disease, including gum disease which is the main cause of gingivitis (also known as bad breath).
- Lowers Cholesterol:
Those magic antioxidants again! This time the antioxidant properties found in Pomegranate can help lower cholesterol levels in the blood, helping towards a healthier heart. Pomegranate juice can help oxidize LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) which helps improve the function of the heart and circulation. Cholesterol that creeps too high can be bad for your health.
- Lowers Blood Pressure:
High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, is one of the main causes of strokes and heart attacks. Early research has shown that regularly consuming Pomegranate juice can lower blood pressure readings if yours is too high.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease:
As we’ve mentioned, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels help towards a healthy heart and Pomegranate is a fruit that is beneficial in this process. Heart disease is the number one cause of premature death in the Western world. A fatty acid found in Pomegranate called Punic Acid helps protect the heart and improve its functioning.
- Fight Against Diabetes:
Despite Pomegranate being high in sugar, it actually helps lower blood sugar levels in our body and thanks to the antioxidant properties, it helps flush out toxins too. Both of these things help reduce symptoms for people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.
- Helps prevent Cancer:
A big claim to make, Pomegranate is said to help prevent breast cancer and prostate cancer (the number one cancers in women and men). Lab tests have shown that some enzymes in Pomegranate can stop the formation of breast cancer cells and even kill cells that are already present, although more research is necessary. Similarly, Pomegranate has been found to slow down the reproduction of prostate cancer cells (a serious threat to men’s lives). There is also some evidence that it can destroy existing cancerous cells. Research is still in its infancy, but tests done so far have been positive for Pomegranate.
- Boost Immunity:
Pomegranate strengthens our immune system due to it being packed full of helpful nutrients, as we’ve mentioned. A strong immune system helps us to fight off disease and illness, such as colds, flu, and bugs and strengthen our body and overall health. The stronger our immune system, the less likely we are to get sick.
- Improve Energy:
Pomegranate can act as a great energy booster and pick-me-up if your mood is low or you feel lethargic. What’s more, it is said to improve your performance in the gym! Rich in nutrients, Pomegranate can help improve exercise ability, meaning you can train harder and for longer with better results. This is partly due to the fact that pomegranate boosts energy and reduces fatigue, meaning that your muscles can endure more from a training system and you feel mentally stronger to exercise.
- Improve Brain Power:
In part linked to the last point, Pomegranate is said to improve our memory, as it helps fight fatigue and improve alertness. Those who drink Pomegranate juice daily have been found to have improved memory recall and reaction times. As such, there is growing evidence that suggests Pomegranate could be helpful in delaying or reducing symptoms of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Sexual Performance:
The antioxidant properties of Pomegranate may help treat Erectile Dysfunction and reduce oxidative damage that can impair blood flow and cause erectile problems.
- Lots of Sugar:
Sure, Pomegranate helps fight against Diabetes, but it is also very high in sugar. A small amount of Pomegranate consumption can increase your sugar intake dramatically so be aware of this and think about the amount of sugar (and calories) you are having in your diet and how much Pomegranate is contributing. Sugar is high in calories and too much can cause various health complaints. Lots of juices in the supermarket have added sugars as well, so be sure to read the label carefully and try to opt for 100% pure fruit juice.
- High-calorie count:
If you need to control your weight by calorie control, Pomegranate might be a no-no for you personally. This is because it contains a high number of calories (145 in one cup). The good news is that you only need to sprinkle some Pomegranate seeds over a salad and get the taste and health benefits from just a small number. A little goes a long way, so there is no need to eat too many and pile on the pounds. Everything in moderation, as they say!
- Allergic Reactions:
Some people will suffer from allergies to Pomegranate. These can include swellings, pain in the mouth or throat when swallowing, rashes, spots and/or difficulty breathing. While rare, allergies and side effects can occur in men and women of any age group, so be vigilant about any signs or symptoms and seek medical advice if you start to experience anything abnormal after eating or drinking Pomegranate. If you feel you may have an allergy, stop consuming Pomegranate immediately until you can rule it out as the cause.
As with many fruits, consuming too much can cause digestive disorders. Eating fruit to excess can cause vomiting or nausea, abdominal pains, cramping, and diarrhea. While not long lasting (a few hours of symptoms), these symptoms are a sign that you are eating fruit to excess and should reduce your intake. Continuing to consume high amounts of fruit over a long period of time can cause longer lasting digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS). Fruit is good for you, but too much can cause issues.
- Enzyme Effect:
Pomegranates contain lots of enzymes (which we have explained can have many health benefits). However, sometimes these can mix negatively with enzymes already present in the body, in particular, the liver. As such, they can cause or aggravate liver disorders. If you have any liver problems, it is important to seek advice from a healthcare professional before taking Pomegranate.
In general, it is Punicalagins and Punicic Acid in Pomegranates that provide most of its medicinal benefits. Many of the claims about Pomegranate need more research on humans, but evidence gathered so far show that this superfood, does have lots of super advantages for improved natural health.
Pomegranate & Pomegranate Juice Nutrition Facts & Calories
A cup, or around 175 grams, of Pomegranate arils, contain approximately 145 calories. One cup would provide 7 grams of Fiber, 3 grams of Protein and 24 grams of sugars (a high amount). In addition, it is high in vitamins and minerals, with a cup providing 30% of the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) of Vitamin C, 36% Vitamin K, and 12% Potassium. Other vitamins and minerals include Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium and Iron. Pomegranate gives us an all-around health boost, due to the range of nutrients found in it. Most people only take a small amount as a food dressing or in juice form but it works a treat when eating healthily. It is also a sweet and tasty fruit! Punicalagins, antioxidants found in the Pomegranate juice have three times as many antioxidant properties as green tea!
Pomegranate & Pomegranate Juice Side Effects
We’ve already covered the fact that Pomegranate gets the thumbs up in the world of health, medicines and natural remedies, but there are some potential side effects from over consuming it and it is important to research them further. Here’s a list …
As with any new food or medicine, do your research thoroughly. There is lots of information available from trusted websites online. If you have any existing health problems or take certain medications, consult your doctor before adding Pomegranate (or any other natural ingredient) to your diet.
How do you eat a Pomegranate
You can either eat Pomegranate like a cereal with a spoon or you can cut the pomegranate into pieces and pick and eat them up talking the pomegranate seeds also but this method will be messier. Fiddly to eat, Pomegranate is well worth the effort thanks to its various natural properties and benefits. A small glass of Pomegranate juice can count towards one of your five portions of fruit and vegetable recommended per day. It can be consumed as a pure juice and has a sweet, desirable flavor that children and adults seem to like. Its sweet taste also makes it a favorite as a salad topping, as it has a fresh and subtle flavor. It can be added to stir-fries and other dishes to add sweetness. It is often added to cocktails, smoothies, and desserts. A small amount can add lots of nutritional value to a snack, drink or meal.
Where to buy Pomegranate?
Pomegranate can be fairly expensive to buy compared to other fruits such as apples, pears or bananas but it is widely available at grocers, markets, and supermarkets. It can be bought pre=prepared (seed-only packs), as fruit for you to prepare at home or in juice form.
So there we have it, with so many potential benefits from this super fruit, it is a great, natural addition to your diet. Once you are aware of some of the potential side effect risks, research overwhelmingly suggests that you get much more good than harm from adding Pomegranate to your life!
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