If you are anything like me, you strongly associate pomegranate season with the winter holidays. During my childhood, when the pomegranates appeared in our fruit bowl I knew the holidays were right around the corner. Even Santa Claus got in on the action; he always left one of the juicy tropical fruits at the bottom of my stocking, underneath all the chocolate and candy. Maybe he was secretly telling me something about my holiday diet?
Even if you don’t have such a strong holiday association with the bright red fruit, you’ll surely notice that around this time of year it makes more than one appearance in a festive recipe. Its deep burgundy jewel tones lend itself well to making any dish festive.
Do the benefits of pomegranate go deeper than what its festive tones suggest? Of course! There are many health benefits attributed to pomegranates that make it a tremendous nutritious addition any time of the year.
Pomegranate Nutrition Facts
Here is the play-by-play on precisely what vitamins, minerals, and nutrients a pomegranate contain, based on a fruit with a standard four-inch diameter (about 282 grams):
- 234 calories
- 52.7 grams carbohydrates
- 3.3 grams of fat, including 223 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids
- 28.8 grams, or 48 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement
- 46.2 mcg, 58 percent of your daily vitamin K requirement
- 107 mcg, 27 percent of your daily folate requirement
- 102 mg, 10 percent of your daily phosphorus requirement
- 66 mg, 19 percent of your daily potassium requirement
Pomegranate Health Benefits
The pomegranate is notably packed full of essential vitamins and minerals, many of which are difficult to obtain elsewhere. Incorporating more pomegranate juice, fruit or extract into your daily diet has many proven health benefits:
Proven to contain higher antioxidant levels than green tea or red wine, perhaps as much as three times the amount. In particular, the rind contains high levels, either extracted or dried into a fine powder for ease of use as a dietary supplement.
According to a 2014 study, pomegranate juice has the potential for lowering some critical inflammatory markers in the body, specifically in patients with Type 2 diabetes. There are also studies exploring different pomegranate preparations, including seeds, juice, leaves and flower extracts, all of which seem to have an anti-inflammatory benefit for the digestive system.
3. Soothes Upset Stomachs
One of the more traditional uses of pomegranate is a digestive aid. Seeds, leaves, and bark boiled into a medicinal concoction reduces intestinal cramping and diarrhea and more generally is used for upset stomachs.
Did you know that this red, juicy fruit also may be a natural antibacterial? According to some studies, the rind in particular targets many different types of bacteria. One study found that it killed candida strains.
Perhaps the reason I’ve gravitated to pomegranates in the winter is their potent antiviral properties. A study at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville demonstrated that pomegranate juice and extract targeted some common pathogens such as HIV-1, influenza, herpes, and poxviruses. All seem to rear their ugly heads during the cold winter months.
6. Treats Erectile Dysfunction
A study was conducted only on rabbits, but it could pave the way for using pomegranate extract to treat erectile dysfunction. The study focused in particular on the effects of the pomegranate’s powerful antioxidants.
7. Targets Cancer Cells
Surprisingly, the preliminary research into pomegranates as a cancer fighter is compelling. The extract not only slowed the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory, it promoted cancer cell suicide. In lab studies, it has been linked to the reduction in the risk of prostate cancer and promotion of cell death in breast cancer. Interested in other foods shown in studies to fight cancer? Check out our article on Cancer Prevention: Diet Tips from an Expert
8. Promotes Heart Health
After only two weeks of consuming 150 ml of pomegranate juice daily, participants in a small study had reduced blood pressure levels. On top of that, other studies found a specific benefit for lowering systolic blood pressure.
9. Boosts the Regeneration of Cartilage
Especially for people suffering from osteoarthritis, boosting cartilage health is a significant health concern. Researchers have found that pomegranate inhibits the function of particular enzymes that deteriorate cartilage.
10. Reduce the Size of Pores
Because pomegranate extract has a small molecular structure, it can penetrate deeply through the skin. This trait makes it a powerful nourishing addition to face creams and moisturizers. It’s also thought to reduce signs of acne, such as redness and inflammation.
11. Reduces High Cholesterol Levels
Pomegranates contain a fatty acid known as punicic acid, also referred to as pomegranate seed oil. Research has linked punicic acid to better heart health, specifically in terms of high cholesterol levels. At least two studies linked punicic acid to a reduction of triglycerides (body fat) and HDL cholesterol levels. Pomegranate seed oil is usually taken as an oral supplement.
Protein Packed Pomegranate Quinoa Recipe
Adapted from Pomegranate.com
- 1 cup small green lentils
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, minced
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and cubed
- 1½ cups red quinoa
- 3 separate cups water
- 1 large pomegranate, seeded
- 1 tbsp thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Clean and rinse lentils with water. Combine the lentils and the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until tender, usually 20 to 30 minutes. Prepare the quinoa by bringing it to boil with the three other cups of water. It takes about five minutes to open up. Drain off extra water.
- Fry the onion in olive oil until it begins to brown, roughly five minutes. Add the apple and cook until it begins to soften about three minutes. Combine with the cooked quinoa and lentils, and remove from heat immediately.
- While the mixture is still warm, mix in the pomegranate seeds and thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. This salad works well served warm or cold.
The health benefits of pomegranate are widely studied. It’s not hard to benefit from it, especially when you consider the number of ways you can. If you are looking for a quick, easy boost, look no further than extracts and pomegranate seed oil supplements. The juice is delicious just on its own or added to a breakfast smoothie. Plus, it’s completely safe to eat the fruit seeds and all, by themselves or in an entree.