Natural Health and Fitness

What Pomegranate Seeds Do to Your Body

pomegranate seeds benefits memeThe pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a slightly peculiar fruit that has been thought to hold certain legendary powers. Ancient Greek believed the fruit sprung from Adonis, mortal lover of goddess of love, Aphrodite. Ancient Egyptians regarded it as a symbol of prosperity and ambition.[1] In this post we shall look at the health benefits of pomegranate seeds.

In a previous article, we looked at top 10 health benefits of pomegranate fruit. Researchers are now discovering the powers of this exotic fruit. But the real power, it appears, is in the seeds. What are pomegranate seeds?

To state be obvious, pomegranate seeds come from the pomegranate fruit. However, the seeds are not the red jewel-like things you see when you cut open a pomegranate. Those are arils (membranes). The seeds, hard and white in color, are inside the arils. Both arils and seed are edible and incredibly beneficial.

Health Benefits of Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate seeds provide tremendous benefits to your body. The beneficial effects are attributed to the presence of certain biologically active compounds. Here are some of these benefits:

1. Aid with Weight Loss

Dietary supplementation with pomegranate seeds may reduce weight gain and aid fat burning, resulting in weight loss. They may stimulate fat loss and prevent insulin resistance. The compound in associated with this effect is called punicic acid.

In one study, researchers found that pomegranate seed oil may stimulate fat loss in obese mice without change in diet, while also reducing insulin resistance.[2] Reduced insulin resistance can stimulate help speed up weight loss.

Pomegranate seed oil is a main ingredient in this weight loss supplement designed for fighting belly fat.

2 Improve Heart Health

Pomegranate seeds provide tremendous benefits for the heart and cardiovascular health in general. Polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) in pomegranate seed may help block or slow buildup of arterial plaque thus lowering risk of heart disease.

Pomegranate seeds also supply potassium, which you need to keep your heart and muscles healthy. Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, present in the seeds may also help cut risk of heart disease.

3. Support Joint Health

Pomegranates are among natural treatments for arthritis and joint pain. Studies have shown pomegranate seed oil to have anti-arthritic properties, due to being rich in punicic acid. Punicic acid has been shown to have anti-arthritic activity.[3]

4. Natural Aphrodisiac

In ancient times, pomegranate seeds were known as the seeds fertility. Even to this day, pomegranates are part of wedding ceremonies in some cultures due to their association with fecundity. As it turns out, this belief is not without some merit. Pomegranate seeds are considered a natural Viagra. Pomegranates in any of various forms including juice, extracts, and seeds have been shown to promote blood and flow and erectile response.

5. Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It also one of the most common conditions among patients in primary care. Pomegranate seeds, or juice from the seeds, contain polyphenols and antioxidants shown to promote cardiovascular health, including lowering blood pressure. One study showed pomegranate juice to be a beneficial cardioprotective supplement in people with hypertension.[4]

6. Boost Brain Health and Memory

A number of studies have shown pomegranate to have significant benefits for brain and memory. In one study, middle-aged and older adults showed significant improvement in memory after four weeks of taking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day.[5]

7. Fight Cancer

Pomegranates have been shown to be an anti-cancer food, or superfood. Cold-pressed pomegranate seed oil is one of the few plant sources of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA has been shown in many studies to help certain forms of cancer.[6] Research shows that CLA in pomegranate possesses more anti-cancer activity than other versions.[7]

8. Lower Cholesterol

Pomegranate may help lower cholesterol, among other cardiovascular health benefits. Clinical trials show that drinking as little as 2 ounces a day of pomegranate juice may help improve cholesterol and reduce plaque in your arteries.[8]

Pomegranate juice may also protect LDL (bad) cholesterol from damage. Why would you need bad cholesterol to be protected from damage?

Some scientists believe that damage to LDL cholesterol causes plaque to build up in the arteries. Therefore, protecting the bad cholesterol from damage might help clear the arteries.[9] Moreover, this may also help reduce risk of stroke.

9. Antioxidant

Pomegranate seeds are a powerful antioxidant and therefore may protect against free radicals that are linked to cancer (#7 above) and conditions linked to inflammation such as arthritis (#9 above). This is due to phytochemicals present in the seeds, as well as vitamin E and C. Free radicals are also linked to aging.

Pomegranate Seed Side Effects

Any side effects of pomegranate seed (or seed oil) would be similar to those of the fruit or juice. The fruit, juice, seed, seed oil, or extracts are safe for most people. Even pregnant or lactating women may use it safely, although consulting a physician is still recommended.

Avoid pomegranate seeds if you know your blood pressure gets low. Consult your doctor if on prescription medications.

Getting Pomegranate Seeds

Some literature will tell you to separate pomegranate seeds from pith and membrane in a bowl of water. That is needless while also wasteful of nutrients. You eat the seeds when you eat the arils, thus getting nutrients from both.

Still, some people find eating the fruit (which is highly recommended by the way) to be a little challenging and time-consuming. Plus, the flavor is a little intense. Drinking pomegranate juice is one way around this. Just be sure to get 100% juice with no added sugar.

Pomegranate seeds (arils) can also be added to salads, salsa, and smoothies. Throw in another superfood or two such as quinoa and/or walnuts for a true power mill.

Pomegranate seed supplements made from extracts are also available. If you’re seeking a certain benefit associated with pomegranate, you may also be able to find supplements made for what you seek, with the seed as one of the ingredients.

These supplements are sometimes referred to as “synergies” as they contain several ingredients that may work well together. An example is this belly fat burning supplement that contains pomegranate seed extracts.


References:

[1] Wikipedia: Pomegranate

[2] PubMed: Pomegranate seed oil, a rich source of punicic acid, prevents diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance

[3] IJHS: Intake of Pomegranate Prevents the Onset of Osteoarthritis

[4] PubMed: Clinical evaluation of blood pressure lowering, endothelial function improving, hypolipidemic and anti-inflammatory effects of pomegranate juice in hypertensive subjects

[5] PubMed: Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults

[6] PubMed: Role of the conjugated linoleic acid in the prevention of cancer

[7] World Without Cancer and Candida by Jack Mavian

[8] UHN: Pomegranate Juice Benefits: Lower Blood Pressure and Improve Your Heart Health

[9] UMD: Pomegranate

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