Food Facts Friday: The Power of PomegranateArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Packed with antioxidants, the pomegranate is a wonderful superfood with a red, round shape and a treasure trove of sweet, jewel-like seeds inside, known as arils. You can even eat the entire aril to enjoy a myriad of benefits, ranging from cancer prevention to wrinkle reduction.
These tart seeds found in the pockets of a pomegranate take some effort to come by—with the slicing, carving and scooping—but they are well worth it for their delicious taste and various health benefits! Pomegranate seeds, oil, extract and juice can be enjoyed with different meals or alone and can benefit your entire body and mind.
Pomegranate has been around since ancient times and was once renowned as a food of the gods (among many other things). Today we regard it as a part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Lucky for you, pomegranate is on the list of acceptable foods on South Beach Diet phases 2 and 3! So think about adding pomegranate to your grocery list to enjoy its potent mix of vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients to support your healthy lifestyle.
Here are seven reasons you need to add the powerful pomegranate to your menu:
1. Pomegranate is high in antioxidants and fights disease and inflammation in the body.
Pomegranate is well known for its high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols, which are what give this delicious fruit its numerous antiviral and antibacterial abilities to help your body fight off disease. A study published by the Institute of Food Technologists states that “pomegranate juice has been shown to exert significant antiatherogenic, antioxidant, antihypertensive and anti‐inflammatory effects,” all of which aid in the prevention of many pathologies in your body. Pomegranate can also help heal wounds and increase recovery time for injuries.
2. Pomegranate is part of a heart-healthy diet.
Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, which are both linked to a heart-healthy lifestyle. A study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that hypertensive participants who drank pomegranate juice for two weeks had significant reductions in blood pressure. Due to the high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols it contains, the pomegranate is well suited to lower blood pressure and benefit hypertension, which are the leading causes of cardiovascular disease in the world. In another study, participants who drank concentrated pomegranate juice showed significant decreases in total cholesterol and lipid levels, according to the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, both of which can also be responsible for heart disease.
3. Eating pomegranate can reduce your risk of cancer.
In findings published by Advanced Biomedical Research, pomegranate has been shown to effectively reduce the cells that lead to prostate cancer, one of the top cancers responsible for male deaths worldwide. Studies have also indicated that fermented pomegranate juice and pomegranate seed oil can slow the spread of breast cancer cells. There is also evidence that pomegranate can aid in preventing and possibly treating lung, colon and skin cancers. The high levels of antioxidants in pomegranate seeds are also helpful in preventing and fighting the cancer-causing damage done by harmful free radicals in the body.
4. Pomegranate can aid your weight loss and exercise.
The stellar nutritional profile of the pomegranate makes it great to incorporate into your daily diet if you’re trying to maintain or lose weight. A nice serving is around a 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds, which has just 72 calories and a solid one and a half grams of protein, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This serving’s three and a half grams of fiber will also work to fill you up and aid your digestion. Studies published in Food and Chemical Toxicology have shown that pomegranate leaf extract and pomegranate seed oil both have positive effects in inhibiting the development of and reducing obesity. In terms of your physical fitness, research conducted by The University of North Carolina has shown that drinking pomegranate juice before a workout can increase blood flow during exercise to enhance the effects of your performance and increase your stamina.
5. Pomegranate has positive effects on aging, memory and arthritis.
The great amount of vitamin K found in a pomegranate can prevent bone loss and improve your body’s healing rate. You’ll also get about 40 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C, which offers anti-aging effects to your skin and can give you a glowing, healthy complexion! Research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that people who drank eight ounces of pomegranate juice per day for four weeks had a boost in memory function. The study also found that out of five other juices, pomegranate juice had the highest amount of antioxidants. The antioxidants called flavonols—which are found in pomegranate—are responsible for reducing inflammation in the body and joints, a condition that commonly leads to arthritis. Downing a glass of pomegranate daily—or even just a few times a week—may help you age more gracefully inside and out!
6. Drinking pomegranate juice is good for your dental and overall health.
A study published in Ancient Science of Life found that healthy participants who rinsed their mouths with sugar-free pomegranate juice had significant reductions in plaque and bacteria. These results also indicate “the ruby red seeds may be a possible alternative for the treatment of dental plaque bacteria,” meaning you should eat them to maintain your overall oral health. It is also well known today that your dental health is closely connected to your overall health. Less harmful bacteria in your mouth and saliva means a better chance of avoiding sickness in your entire body, according to the Mayo Clinic!
7. From seeds to juice, pomegranate is delicious and versatile.
You can find pomegranates at your grocery store and buy them whole, or look for them in seed form. Harvesting these rich and mesmerizing seeds can be a bit of work but well worth the reward. Buy a red, smooth and weighty pomegranate (to ensure it’s juicy) and bring it home to slice in half. Scoop out the seeds and store them in the fridge to top off your salads, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal—and the list goes on! You can also juice the seeds in a blender and make your own fresh pomegranate juice to enjoy whenever you please.
Since pomegranate seeds boast a mildly sweet and tart taste profile, they can be beautifully paired with different chicken dishes as well! Don’t forget—pomegranate seeds are also perfectly delicious enough to snack on all on their own. So no matter how you want to eat them, go enjoy this sweet and nutritious fruit to harness the health-promoting and disease-fighting powers it has to offer your body!