Delicious, juicy and jewel-like, pomegranate seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Discover what else makes this ruby fruit so healthy...
Pomegranates are round fruits with hard, shiny red-yellow skins. Split one open to reveal the jewel-like inner seeds, known as arils, which can be eaten raw or juiced.
When choosing a pomegranate, look for those with unblemished, shiny skins and which feel heavy for their size, as these are often the juiciest.
Nutritional benefits of pomegranates
Pomegranates are a good source of fibre as well as vitamins A, C, some B vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium and iron.
Two compounds in pomegranates - punicalagins and punicic acid - are responsible for most of the health benefits of pomegranate. Pomegranates also have antioxidant activity three times higher than that of red wine and green tea.
Can pomegranates improve bone health?
Can pomegranates improve athletic performance?
The antioxidant content of pomegranates and pomegranate juice may improve endurance and aerobic performance in athletes according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, during which 500ml of pomegranate juice was consumed by athletes for 15 days. Another study also demonstrated that pomegranate extract improved performance within 30 minutes of ingestion for sports involving intermittent running.
Do pomegranates have anti-inflammatory effects?
There have been various studies into the potential anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranate. Initial research has indicated that the fruit may help fight inflammation in the gut, while other studies have looked into the potential anti-inflammatory effects of punicic acid from pomegranate seed oil on breast cancer cells. A paper in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences also reported a small trial in which patients with type 2 diabetes consumed pomegranate juice each day and showed fewer markers of inflammation in their blood after 12 weeks. Although all these studies are promising, more research is required before pomegranate can be claimed to have anti-inflammatory effects.
Can pomegranates reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure?
A 2013 study considered the effect of consuming 150ml of pomegranate juice every day for two weeks on patients with hypertension, and found that it may lower blood pressure. Another study from 2005 found that drinking pomegranate juice may improve blood flow to the heart in patients with coronary heart disease. However, as the NHS points out, studies with so few participants need to be replicated with larger sample sizes before they can confirm a direct link.
Can pomegranates improve memory?
Research into how pomegranates and pomegranate juice may affect cognitive function is still in the early stages. One small trial asked participants with mild age-associated memory complaints to drink 8oz of pomegranate juice daily, and found an improvement in verbal and visual tasks after four weeks. Other research has suggested that pomegranate juice may have cognitive benefits in mice. Again, more robust research is needed before a health claim can be made for pomegranates and memory.
Can pomegranates interact with any medication?
There are some reports of pomegranate and pomegranate juice interacting with certain medications, including those for high blood pressure and statins. Always check with your GP first before consuming pomegranates, or their juice, if you are taking prescribed medication.
Healthy pomegranate recipes
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This article was published on 19 June 2017.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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