Natural Health and Fitness

Top 10 Health Benefits of Pomegranate

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amazing benefits of pomegranateThe pomegranate (Punica granatum) is considered one of the most healthful fruits in the world. A superfood. It is a fruit with a light pink-red exterior and (edible) ruby-red colored seeds. Its flavor is intense but without an overbearing acidic taste. In this post we shall look at the top 10 health benefits of the pomegranate, as well as any side effects.

The name pomegranate means “seeded apple”. We’ll save you the details about how it’s grown and where, height of trees and all. (But if interested Wikipedia has an excellent article you can read.)

Health Benefits of Pomegranate

Packed with nutrients, including phytonutrients, pomegranates provide incredible benefits for your body. Following are top 10 benefits of pomegranate:

1. Loaded with Nutrients

As mentioned, pomegranates are packed with nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (compounds with medicinal properties). Vitamins and minerals in the fruit include vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, niacin, potassium, vitamin K. The fruit contains no cholesterol or saturated fats.

Vitamin C is one of the most important micronutrients your body needs. One pomegranate fruit supplies nearly 40 percent of you daily needs.

However, the power of pomegranate, and what puts it above virtually all other fruits, is its powerful plant compounds. The presence of anthocyanins, tannins, and very high levels of antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids has been shown to provide a number of powerful health benefits.

2. Support Weight Loss

More accurately, the pomegranate may support fat loss which is the desired goal for many, not just weight loss. (You can lose weight for a number of reasons, some of which are not healthy.)

Pomegranate may aid fat burning and help prevent obesity. In one study, fat-induced mice were fed with pomegranate leaf extract (PLE) for five weeks. The results showed significant reduction in body weight, as well as lower cholesterol levels. Fat absorption was inhibited as well.[1]

This belly fat fighting supplement is pomegranate extracts-based.

3. May Help Boost Brain Health and Memory

Pomegranate is one of the superfoods that may help boost brain health. While it is linked to brain health and memory boosting effects, studies show it may help reverse brain damage. One study showed that pomegranate juice may augment memory and brain activity in older adults.[2] Another study showed pomegranate seed, leaf, or juice may have neuroprotective potential.[3]

4. May Lower Cholesterol Levels

Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that may help lower cholesterol levels, and LDL (bad) cholesterol in particular. Punicic acid, a type of conjugated fatty acid and the main constituent of pomegranate seed oil (PSO), has been shown to have anti-atherogenic effects (meaning it helps prevent the hardening of arteries).

One 4-week randomized double-blind placebo clinical trial involving subjects with high cholesterol and triglycerides showed that the group that received 400mg of PSO had improved cholesterol levels.[4]

5. May Help Fight Cancer

There is strong evidence in support of the cancer-fighting effects of pomegranate. Studies have shown that it may help slow the progression of some cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer. Promising findings pomegranate extracts’ ability to inhibit growth of prostate cancer have been documented. Cancer-fighting compounds in the fruit include luteolin, ellagic acid, and punicic acid.

6. May Help Support Healthy Joints

Pomegranate, or pomegranate extracts, may help relieve joint pain associated with inflammation and offer relief for arthritis pain. It may also protect your cartilage. This is due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit (#9 below).

7. May Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure tends to creep up on you, only to be found too late thus requiring medication. Not only does high blood pressure put you at risk of heart disease and stroke, but also degenerative eye diseases, and may even affect your cognitive abilities.

Recent studies have shown that consumption of pomegranate juice may lower blood pressure, also called hypertension, in people with the condition.

Researchers at Queen Margaret University in Edinburg, Scotland found that people who drank 16 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for four weeks had “significant” fall in blood pressure.[5]

8. May Help Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Pomegranate is now considered one of the most heart-healthy natural foods or compounds known. As we have seen under cholesterol (#4 above), it may help lower cholesterol levels and prevent the hardening of arteries. This can help improve blood flow, thus lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Also, by reducing blood pressure (#7 above), the pomegranate may also help lower risk of heart attack.

And the good thing is, you don’t have to eat several fruits a day or guzzle glasses of juice to protect your heart. Clinical trials have found that drinking half a glass of pomegranate juice a day can lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Drinking a full glass or two a day is recommended, all the same.

9. May Help Reduce Inflammation

High concentrations of antioxidants (#10 below) make pomegranate juice is a powerful anti-inflammatory. This makes it potentially effective in treating conditions of inflammation such as arthritis. Pomegranate extracts may also block enzymes known to damage joints in people with arthritis.

10. Antioxidants

Pomegranates rank high in the USDA’s oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), a measure of how well free-radicals are absorbed.[6] Free radicals damage your cells and tissues in a process known as “oxidative stress”. Antioxidants prevent or slow oxidative damage throughout your body. Pomegranate contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruits. It has three times more antioxidants than red wine and green tea.

Side Effects

Pomegranate is a natural food, or superfood if you like. It is therefore safe for most people, and most people do not experience side effects. It may be safe for pregnant or lactating mothers, but it is wise to check with you doctor all the same.

Those with low blood pressure may want to avoid it (ask your doctor) as it may further lower blood pressure. People with plant allergies seem to be more likely to have an allergic reaction to pomegranate.[7] Consulting with your doctor is always recommended when starting on supplements, including pomegranate extracts.

Getting Pomegranate

Pomegranate fruits are available and can be eaten whole just like any other fruit. However, some people find it difficult to eat, and the taste a little too intense. As we have seen, pomegranate juice supplies the health benefits linked to the fruit, therefore this may be a good way to get it. Just ensure that the juice is good quality and does not have added sugar.

Pomegranate supplements made from extracts are also available in health stores. Many supplements for various uses contain pomegranate extracts, including this supplement for combating belly fat.

See also: African Mango: Benefits and Side Effects


References:

[1] PMC: Potent health effects of pomegranate

[2] Natural Society: Pomegranate Juice ‘Significantly Improves’ Memory in Recent Study

[3] PMC: Effect of pomegranate extracts on brain antioxidant markers

[4] PubMed: Effect of pomegranate seed oil on hyperlipidaemic subjects

[5] Express: Pomegranate a day keeps middle-age at bay

[6] Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds by Michelle Schoffro Cook

[7] WebMD: POMEGRANATE

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