The vibrant red coloured sweet, and tangy Pomegranate known as ‘Punica granatum’ in botanical terms, belong to the family, punicacea. Dating back to somewhere between 4000 and 3000 B. C Pomegranates with their origin from Persia have been appreciated from Biblical times to the 18th century, when Spanish sailors introduced them to the southern United States.
According to ancient folklore, for centuries, Pomegranates have held legendary powers. They have been an emblem of fertility, rebirth, and health. According to the Persians belief, the first woman, Eve, in the Garden of Eden, plucked and ate the pomegranate from the Tree of Knowledge and not the apple, as commonly believed. Ancient Egyptians believed that pomegranates offered eternal life, hence buried the dead along with Pomegranates. The Greeks opened the fruit as part of their wedding celebrations while the Chinese ate candied Pomegranate seeds ushering in Good luck and fortune. According to ancient Mythology Pomegranates were symbolic of good tidings. The flower, a vivid red hue symbolised love and the fruits denoted fertility.
The size and colour of the fruit depends largely on its variety. Beautifully sheathed and wrapped in a thick reddish colour rind, the 700-800 tightly packed multitude of crimson kernels known as arils, popularly known as seeds though, derive their name from the term ‘pomum granatum’, which means ‘seeded apples’.
Pomegranate Nutrition Facts
The nutritional values present in 100 grams of pomegranate are listed below:
- Fat –0.3 gm
- Dietary Fiber –0.6 gm
- Sugars –16.57 gm
- Carbohydrates –17.17 gm
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – 0.3 mg
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – 0.063 mg
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – 0.03mg
- Protein –0.95 gm
- Iron – 0.3 mg
- Calcium – 3 mg
- Vitamin C – 6.1 mg
- Vitamin B9 (Folate) – 6 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 0.105 mg
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – 0.596 mg
- Energy – 70 kcal or 290 kJ
- Zinc – 0.12 mg
- Potassium – 259 mg
- Phosphorus – 8 mg
- Magnesium – 3 mg
Pomegranate Health Benefits
A nutrient-dense rich food source containing phytochemical compounds, high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, the pomegranate has earned the popularity of being a ‘Miracle Fruit’ because of the potent antioxidant properties offering protection against numerous ailments. Apart from antioxidant properties, they also contain anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties that offer potential therapeutic benefits.
Antioxidant Properties of Pomegranates
A rich source of antioxidants, the crunchy Pomegranates are one of the few fruits whose juice is just as beneficial as its fruit or seeds. The juice contains more antioxidants than red wine or green tea. The inedible peel contains the maximum quantities of antioxidants, which are released when the fruit is squeezed out for juicing.
Pomegranate Helps Fight Free Radicals
Packed with antioxidants, Pomegranates buffer the free radicals produced in the body. The free radicals that cause oxidation are because of both internal and external sources such as exposure to harmful environmental toxins, chemical pollutants and the harsh UV rays of the sun
Pomegranate Benefits to Reduce Bad Cholesterol
Packed with antioxidant vitamins and enzymes, Pomegranates prevent oxidation of cholesterol thereby reducing the bad cholesterol namely the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increasing the good HDL (High-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.
Pomegranates play the role of an aspirin, preventing blood platelets from clumping together to form dangerous blood clots that normally lead to atherosclerosis. Various studies indicate that the anti-thrombotic property of the fruit apart from preventing formation of blood clots also help reverse atherosclerotic plaque.
Since Pomegranate acts as a blood thinner, they ensure proper blood circulation to the heart and to the entire body.
Pomegranate Benefits for Blood Pressure
A study also found that pomegranates help lower blood pressure among people with hypertension as they contain potassium. Therefore, it is very beneficial for the people who have high blood pressure or hypertension.
Coronary Heart Disease
According to studies, Pomegranate could improve blood flow to the heart by more than a third, which keeps the arteries clear reducing the likelihood of developing heart conditions including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease.
Pomegranates contain high levels of antioxidant known as flavonoids, which are extremely effective at neutralising cancer-causing free radicals. Ellagic acids in pomegranates are cancer cell destroying agents that may induce apoptosis, a process, which causes self-destruction of cancerous cells. Drinking the juice or just eating the fruit regularly help fight cancer and slows down the growth of cancerous cells.
According to studies done by California’s Londa Lima University, Alzheimer’s is a build-up of plaque from dead brain cells. However, Pomegranate high in Vitamin B riboflavin, thiamine and niacin content may reduce the accumulation of harmful proteins and help slowing down brain degeneration associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Pomegranates for Immune System
The antioxidants and vitamin C content in Pomegranates support the immune system to develop resistance against infections and boost immunity.
Benefits of Pomegranates for Digestive Health
The pomegranate plays a vital role in secretion of enzymes. Therefore, this fruit improves the function of digestion. They contain good amounts of fibre, which regulates bowel movements. Therefore, for ages, they have been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. They also act as a laxative and help increase peristaltic movements of the intestines thereby relieving constipation.
Since Pomegranates enhance digestive health, they boost appetite
Cold and Flu
Loaded with vitamin C Pomegranates may help prevent symptoms of flu and cold.
Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, Pomegranates alleviate the soreness and redness in the throat.
Another benefit of pomegranate is that its juice, along with its antibacterial and antiviral properties, helps reduce the effects of dental plaque.
Pomegranate Benefits for Men
The Greeks credited pomegranate with aphrodisiac qualities, which has been proved by Modern science. Researchers at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh have found that men and women who drank daily a glass of the fruit juice for a fortnight experienced a surge in the hormone testosterone, which boost sexual desire in both genders.
Due to enhanced blood circulation, Pomegranates make an excellent remedy for erectile dysfunction in men. Therefore, regular consumption of the fruit may prove beneficial. New studies indicate that a glass of pomegranate juice every day apart from easing erectile dysfunction may even increase sperm quality.
The antioxidant properties in pomegranate may also help in fighting prostate cancer in men. According to a study done by University of California drinking pomegranate juice helped to stabilize the PSA, which is a compound released in the incidence of prostate cancer levels in men suffering from this disease. This finding indicates that pomegranate juice may help in fighting the development of prostate cancer for those with a family history.
Pomegranate Benefits for Women
Pomegranate juice is a great source for folic acid, which is needed for the healthy development of babies. Folic acid is a necessary component in the formation of red blood cells and DNA. Hence, women with higher folic acid levels during early pregnancy were more likely to have healthier babies.
Pomegranate juice is also helpful to avoid morning sickness.
Studies show that expectant mothers at a risk of premature birth may protect the neonatal brain by consumption of pomegranate juice, which helps prevent any brain damage to the baby due to insufficient blood flow. The juice contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that make the blood vessels stay open and allow proper blood supply to all the body parts of the baby.
PMS and Menopausal Problems
Pomegranate helps balance the estrogen levels in women. Therefore, daily intake of a glass of pomegranate juice or Pomegranate kernels can help combat PMS and provide relief from hot flashes and other menopausal problems.
The most recent discovery about pomegranate’s health benefits recommends that extracts of the fruit could prevent the onset of osteoarthritis. Samples of human cartilage damaged by osteoarthritis were treated with the extract by Scientists in America and observed that it inhibited the production of the enzyme responsible for causing the damage. Therefore, drinking a glass of Pomegranate juice or eating one whole Pomegranate daily can inhibit the onset of Osteoarthritis. However, further research is needed to establish the effectiveness concerning consumption of extract for cartilage protection.
Pomegranate contains iron content. Therefore, they support healthy blood flow and help relieve symptoms of anaemia such as exhaustion, dizziness and weakness. The vitamin C content in Pomegranates also helps to improve absorption of iron in the body.
Benefits of Pomegranates for Healthy Skin
The Pomegranate a good source of powerful antioxidants with vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E are known to protect the skin from damaging free radicals and help combat skin wrinkles. Besides this an oily secretion of the sebaceous glands of the skin, is one of the root causes of acne. Vitamin C in pomegranates helps regulate the production of sebum, thereby preventing acne. Due to their iron content, which is a constituent part of haemoglobin; pomegranates help absorb oxygen and carry them to the skin rejuvenating and imparting a fresh and smooth texture making them noticeably soft.
Whatever may be the benefits this fruit has to offer it is wise to take pomegranate herbal or dietary supplement in consultation with a doctor for in certain cases, Pomegranate juice may interact with some prescription medications, such as high blood pressure and heart medications.