The pomegranate is a round, red fruit in the berry category. The skin is thick and inedible, but inside are hundreds of edible seeds. Each seed is surrounded by a red, juicy and sweet seed covering known as an aril. Pomegranates are loaded with nutrients. Just one cup of arils contains seven grams of fiber and three grams of protein. They are full of vitamins C, K, Folate and Potassium.
Pomegranates contain two plant compounds known to have medicinal properties. Punicalagins are extremely potent antioxidants found in the pomegranate juice and peel. They’re so powerful that pomegranate juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea. Pomegranate extract and powder is typically made from the peel due to its high antioxidant and punicalagin content. The second compound, punicic acid, found in the pomegranate seed oil is the main fatty acid in the arils. It is a type of conjugated linoleic acid with potent biological effects.
There are many known health benefits of pomegranates including:
- Lower Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is on the leading causes of heart attacks and stroke. In one study, people with high blood pressure (hypertension) had a significant reduction in blood pressure after consuming 5 ounces of pomegranate juice daily for two weeks. Other studies have found similar effects, especially for systolic blood pressure, the higher number in a blood pressure reading.
- Reduced Joint Pain – Most forms of arthritis involve some form of inflammation in the joints. Given that the plant compounds in pomegranates have anti-inflammatory properties, it makes sense that they could help reduce inflammation and pain in the joints. In fact, one study suggests that pomegranate extract can block enzymes that are known to damage the joints of people who suffer from osteoarthritis.
- Improved Immune Response – Being rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, pomegranates are extremely healthy for those suffering from immune-related disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. They are also rich in vitamin C, which boosts antibody production and helps in the development of immunity. Pomegranates can thus help you maintain a healthy immune system and keep common illnesses and infections at bay.
- Cardiovascular Health – Heart disease is a leading cause of premature death. The punicic acid in pomegranates may help protect against several risk factors leading to heart disease. A double-blind study of people with high triglyceride levels showed that 800mg of pomegranate seed oil per day significantly lowered triglycerides. Another study examined the effects of pomegranate juice in people with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Researchers noted significant reductions in LDL cholesterol levels. This could be due in part because the pomegranate juice protects LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation.