Pomegranates are round, red fruits that have an inner white flesh packed with crunchy, juicy edible seeds, known as arils. They are quite unique in flavor and their juice is very popular in grocery stores. Fresh pomegranates are some of the best sources of beneficial antioxidants and polyphenols. According to many studies, these antioxidant compounds may slow cancer cell growth, reduce inflammation, fight infections, and boost brain function. This article aims to highlight some of the most impressive health benefits of pomegranates.
Pomegranate arils, what people commonly refer to as the seeds, are either eaten raw or processed into pomegranate juice. Believe it or not, pomegranate juice is the source of grenadine syrup, which is famous in the non-alcoholic drink known as the Shirley Temple. You also see grenadine in various cocktails for flavor enhancement and color.
Pomegranate seeds exhibit a diverse nutritional profile with several important nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. They are also rich in heart-healthy fiber, and a half-cup of pomegranate provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 72.2
- Carbohydrates: 16.3 grams (g)
- Protein: 1.5 g
- Fat: 1 g
- Vitamin K: 14.2 micrograms (mcg)
- Folate: 33.1 mcg
- Fiber: 3.5 g
- Potassium: 205 milligrams (mg)
- Vitamin C: 8.9 mg
- Manganese: 0.1 mg
- Copper: 0.1 mg
They Reduce Joint Pain
Arthritis is a condition that is characterized by the inflammation of one or more joints. It can cause pain, stiffness, and typically worsens with age. Because of the flavonoid content, pomegranates provide necessary antioxidants that work as anti-inflammatory agents in the body. This process may work to relieve symptoms of joint pain and arthritis. In fact, eating pomegranates may prevent chronic inflammation, which increases the risk of inflammatory conditions like arthritis. The reason for this is because they contain punicalagins, which exhibit powerful anti-inflammatory properties in test-tube and animal studies.
They Help Lower Blood Pressure
The juice of pomegranate arils contains several different polyphenols and antioxidants that may boost heart health and lower blood pressure. A 2013 study found that people with high blood pressure who consumed pomegranate juice successfully decreased systolic and diastolic pressure by 7% and 6%, respectively. A separate study concluded that pomegranate juice was beneficial for people with high blood pressure, as it helped lower levels after two weeks of daily consumption.
They Help Enhance Memory
Several studies found that the polyphenols in pomegranates may significantly enhance cognitive function. One study found that these polyphenols provided long-lasting protection from memory dysfunction caused by heart surgery. Another study monitored elderly participants with memory problems. They drank eight ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for four weeks. At the end of the study, the participants who drank the pomegranate juice experienced improved markers of visual and verbal memory. Additionally, researchers noted that incorporating pomegranates into your diet may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
They May Support Urinary Health
Both test-tube and human studies found that pomegranate extract may reduce the formation of kidney stones. Researchers attribute this benefit to the antioxidant activity in pomegranates. One study involved adults between the ages of 18-70 who experienced recurrent kidney stones. They received 1,000 mg of pomegranate extract for 90 days. The extract helped inhibit the mechanism by which kidney stones are formed in the body. Additional animal studies found that pomegranate extract was able to regulate oxalates, calcium, and phosphates in the blood, all three of which are components of kidney stones.
They Are Natural Aphrodisiacs
Many cultures associate the pomegranate with abundance and fertility because of their many seeds. Within recent years, researchers have studied pomegranates for their potential libido-boosting effects. One study, for example, found that consuming 100% pure pomegranate juice increased salivary testosterone levels in participants by 24%. This, in turn, increased sexual desire and mood. Other research in animal models notes that pomegranate juice may help increase blood flow and erectile response. More research is necessary in humans, but pomegranates may offer similar benefits for humans affected by sexual dysfunction.