Delicious, nutritious, disease preventing, anti-inflammatory, and full of phytochemicals, the pomegranate is a powerhouse food wrapped up in a gorgeous red package. Used for thousands of years in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions as a medicinal plant, scientists are just now discovering versatile health benefits of the tasty pomegranates.
What Is A Pomegranate?
Is that funny little red, roundish-hexagonal shaped fruit displayed in large bins at the local grocery store or late season farmers market a mystery to you. It is time for you to take one home and find out what the pomegranate fuss is all about.
When you crack it open, you are rewarded with hundreds glistening pomegranate arils; the delicious outer layer of the pomegranate seed.
The humble Pomegranate (Punica Granatum L) is a drought tolerant fruit tree that thrives in semiarid zones. For centuries, it has been grown in hot, dry Middle East and Mediterranean countries like India, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, and Morocco. Pomegranates are now grown stateside in the orchards of California. Categorized as a berry, the pomegranate grows on trees that can reach a height of 30 feet tall. The trees blossom with pretty bright red, orange, or pink flowers before growing into the sweet and zesty fruit packed with aril covered seeds.
Pomegranates are in season from September to November and have a long shelf life. They can last for several months, and you will seem them in the grocery stores well into January. Their sweet, tart flavor pairs well with sweet or savory dishes making them a versatile produce in the kitchen. They impart a beautiful color and a wealth of health benefits when added to dinners, desserts, and smoothies.
Health Benefits Of Pomegranate Products
Pomegranate juice and extracts house potent antioxidants that can improve your heart health, reduce inflammation, add nutrition to your diet, and aid in digestion. One extremely potent antioxidant found in pomegranates is Punicalagins. They are found in the juice and peel of the fruit. These Punicalagins are so powerful that when measured against red wine and green tea, they have three times more antioxidant power.
Pomegranates are a storehouse of polyphenols, including tannins and flavonoids, which have been linked to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health properties. The health benefits of pomegranates compose a list of disease fighting properties that are good for your heart health, disease prevention (including heart disease), and reducing inflammation. Studies on diseases such as Chronic Inflammatory Disease (CID), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and cardiovascular disease have found participants reap excellent health benefits from regular pomegranate consumption.
The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health study listed positive health effects of pomegranate juice, extracts, seeds, and oil. Pomegranates can be used in the prevention and treatment of several types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, reproductive health, blood pressure reduction, and other conditions and diseases. Their study is one of the leading sources of how food applications affect our health. By running study trials they have found some exciting benefits of eating pomegranates and beneficial pomegranate product development. We have listed some of their findings below.
Drinking pomegranate juice and using pomegranate seed oil may have cancer prevention and mitigation benefits. Scientists and researchers have seen a positive response that correlates the health benefits of pomegranate consumption to helping improve outcomes for Prostate, Breast, Lung, and Skin Cancers. Pomegranates can help inhibit unwanted cancer cell growth, fresh and fermented pomegranate juice, pomegranate seed oil, and pomegranate fruit extract can inhibit cell signaling pathways and may reduce tumor incidences.
The vasculoprotective effects of pomegranate juice has been the subject of several heart health studies. Pomegranate juice is a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids, which help prevent free radicals from damaging cells that cause heart disease. Individuals have seen a lower systolic blood pressure when consuming pomegranate juice. Drinking pomegranate juice may slow the growth of plaque buildup associated with cholesterol related heart disease. Isn’t that what we all need – lower blood pressure – the first key in staying healthy.
One note of caution, according to WebMD, you may experience unwanted side effects of eating pomegranates if you take certain medications. “You may want to avoid or limit your consumption of pomegranate, if you’re taking medication for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors or Antihypertensive drugs), or medication that is changed (Cytochrome P450 2D6) or broken down (Crestor) by your liver.”
Inflammatory diseases like RA and Osteoarthritis may benefit from pomegranate extract. The extract appears to inhibit inflammatory and cartilage damage to human tissue and reduce the severity of joint inflammation. Inflammation can lead to a host of issues including bone loss and heart disease.
There are many bone health studies underway that are researching the health benefits of pomegranates.
Other Health Benefits
Medical studies have shown positive effects of the health benefits of pomegranate products on a wide variety of health issues.
- Skin Damage – Pomegranate juice, fruit extracts, and pomegranate oil showed a reduction in the DNA damage caused by the sun exposure.
- Dental – Using a pomegranate mouth rinse has been found to be effective against dental plaque microorganisms.
- Alzheimer Disease – Studies are underway to see if there is a connection between a diet in high levels of antioxidant polyphenolic substances like those found in pomegranates and their effect on delaying the onset of Alzheimer Disease.
- Reproductive Systems – By reducing oxidative stress, pomegranate juice may be a potential fertility aid. It is helpful in increasing testosterone levels in both men and women. Additionally, drinking pomegranate juice has been cited to increase sperm motility and reduce erectile dysfunction.
- Antimicrobial/fungal Effect – Pomegranate extracts are a powerhouse against Candida, urinary tract infections, and E. coli.
While not a cure-all fruit, the benefits of consuming pomegranates and their juice has shown to be a good step on the road to living a healthy life. Additionally, the use of pomegranate extract and pomegranate seed powder which is made from the fruit’s peel is high in antioxidant and punicalagin content has promising applications.
These lovely little gems are full of fructose, sucrose, and glucose making them a sweet treat. But they also pack additional simple organic acids including ascorbic acid, fumaric acid, citric acid, and malic acid which add to their super fruit status.
How To Choose A Pomegranate
It’s time to try a fresh pomegranate, and we have a few tips to help you select one, two, or more that are perfectly ripe and ready to eat or juice.
- Choose a pomegranate that has a shinny outer layer and a good dark red and brown color.
- A ripe pomegranate is plump and firm.
- When you pick it up, it should feel heavier than it looks.
- The fruit should be smooth without any surface cracks or wrinkly skin.
- The shape should be more hexagonal, if it is round like an apple it is not ripe.
- For a final test, if it is hard to scratch the surface of the skin with your fingernail, you have a winner.
How To Extract Pomegranate Seed Pods
Extracting all the arils from your pomegranate takes a little work. Our advice, be sure to wear an apron, these fruits are juicy and are messy to dismantle. Sweet and tart, the juicy seed pods, called arils, are packed with fruity flavor.
Cut the pomegranate in half from top to bottom. It can be helpful to cut out the stem section first.
Over a large bowl, with the seed side down, spank the fruit’s skin side with a wooden spoon. This dislodges the arils and will send they flying into the bowl along with some of the white pith.
Extract any remaining stuck arils by squeezing the fruit in your hand or plucking them out with a spoon. Extraction preferences will be determined by how hands-on you like to be with your food.
Fill the bowl with cool water. Break apart the arils and pith under the water. The arils will sink and the white pith will float, allowing you to easily remove and discard it.
Strain your beautiful little ruby flavor bombs and pick out any last remnants of pith.
Your pomegranate seeds are ready for enjoy!
If the vibrant red color of juiced pomegranate seeds isn’t enough to get you drinking it all up, consider all the vitamins and antioxidants the juice contains. It has been noted that a glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. Red wine and green tea have long be touted as a great source of anti inflammatory properties, time to add pomegranate juice up at the top of the list. The many benefits of pomegranate juice consumption continues to grow as scientific studies reveal additional health benefits. We know one thing for sure, pomegranate juice is good for you!
Drinking freshly made pomegranate juice tastes amazing. It is easy to make and full of vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants.
Once you have extracted the arils from the fruit, you can blend up your nutritious juice. A high speed blender is the best tool for crushing the arils. Pop them in the blender and process for a quick 30 – 60 seconds to crush the arils and extricate the pomegranate seeds. Finally, pass the juice through a strainer to remove the seeds. The juice will be thick, you can help it through with the back of a spoon or a spatula. You juice is now ready to drink straight up or add to your favorite smoothie recipe. We have added a few smoothie ideas below to get you off to a great start.
Six large pomegranates will make about four cups of juice, which will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Just long enough for you to make a healthy smoothie every day.
You can easily add a few ounces of pomegranate juice to your favorite smoothie. It will add sweetness and a little zing. You don’t need to have a specific recipe, chop up your favorite fruit to add to your home made pomegranate juice and add some yogurt, nut milk, and or some protein powder. But, if you are looking for inspiration, below are a few great smoothies for you to try out.
- A Pear, Banana, Strawberry, Ginger, and Pomegranate Smoothie from Jessica Gavin
- A Pomegranate, Raspberry, Orange Juice, Banana, and Greek Yogurt Smoothie from Feel Good Foodie
- A Blueberry, Pomegranate, Spinach, Collagen, and Chia Seed Smoothie from One Lovely Life
Add Pomegranates To Your Personal Profile Menu
Pomegranates are a tasty and nutrient-dense way to add flavor and interest to your menu. Upping your pomegranate consumption is a boon to your heathy lifestyle. Since they are low in calories, they make the perfect addition to any number of dishes. We’ve added a few ideas below to get your creative juices flowing.
- Add them to a garden salad for a sweet pop of flavor
- Sprinkle them on yogurt along with your favorite granola
- Add them to a fruit salad for a super food salad
- Make a tangy dressing with Pomegranate juice, oil, and vinegar
You will find many ways to incorporate these little jewels to your daily menu and boost your immune system.
Pomegranates are a healthy addition to any weight loss and weight control eating plan. They not only provide a good source of vitamins and fiber, they are a naturally sweet food and help satisfy a sugar craving.
The nutritional facts speak for themselves. Vitamins found in pomegranates include: Folate, Potassium, and Vitamins K, E, B6. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C. The nutrition facts for half of a pomegranate contains 64 calories, 1 gram of Protein, less than one gram of Fat, 14 grams of Carbohydrates, 3 grams of Fiber, and 11 grams of Sugar.
Pomegranates For Better Health
The healthy benefits of pomegranates is obvious. Your body will thank you for taking good care to eat a diet rich in fiber and anti inflammatory properties.
Sweet and juicy, tart and crunchy, the fruits of the pomegranate tree are a perfect blend of deliciousness and nutritional health.
If you are looking for a way to add more healthy fruit to your diet, read 10 Benefits of Eating Plums For Your Body.
How Do You Eat Pomegranates?
We would love to know how you add pomegranates to your diet to stay healthy. Add your ideas and recipes below to share with all our readers.