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Pomegranate is a subtropical fruit belonging to the family Lythraceae. Commonly called as Anaar in Hindi, pomegranate is loved for its delicious and juicy taste. But that is not all that this fruit has to offer. Pomegranate is rich in potassium and vitamin C, low in calories and an amazing source of fibre. Fresh juice of the pomegranate contains high amounts of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in most fruits - anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and tannins. All of these bioactive ingredients make pomegranate a "superfood" which could be an excellent supplement for boosting overall health. It aids in dealing with conditions like upset stomach, conjunctivitis, menopausal hot flashes, osteoarthritis, and hemorrhoids. Additionally, it's a very effective anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating agent. In fact, it is known as the " apple with many seeds" due to the many benefits it provides for the health.

The pomegranate is a ruby red coloured fruit with a crown on its head. It can easily acclimate humid tropical climates and the Mediterranean and needs a long and hot growing season to mature properly. It grows in deep loamy soil but may tolerate a variety of soils. Pomegranates are in season from September to February in the Northern Hemisphere and March to May in the Southern Hemisphere. The pomegranate fruit encloses numerous small jewel-like edible seeds which have a distinct crunch and sweetness to it. They are variedly used in both sweet and savoury dishes including smoothies, wines, cocktails, meal garnishes, salads, baking and in juices.

It might interest you to know that in ancient cultures the peel of pomegranate was used to dye leather and pomegranate blossom was crushed to create a red dye. It is considered a sacred fruit in some beliefs and an apt offering to certain Greek deities. In Hinduism, pomegranate seeds are considered a symbol of fertility abundance. Was it just faith? Maybe or Maybe they too knew the miracles these tiny seeds are.

Some basic facts about Pomegranate:

  • Botanical Name: Punica granatum
  • Family Name: Lythraceae
  • Common Name: Anaar, pomegranate
  • Sanskrit name: दाडिमं Dāḍimaṁ
  • Parts used: The bark, the trunk, the fruits, the flowers and the leaves all parts of the pomegranate tree are useful
  • Native and geographical distribution: The pomegranate originated from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and was cultivated over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times. It is widely cultivated across India and the drier parts of southeast Asia, the East Indies, Malaya, and tropical Africa. In 1769, the Spanish settlers introduced this tree into California. In the US, it is grown for its fruits mainly in the drier parts of California and Arizona. The most important growing regions are China, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Japan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Burma and Saudi Arabia.
  • Interesting facts: You can store pomegranates for up to two months in the refrigerator.
    The pomegranate trees live for over 200 years.
  1. Pomegranate nutrition facts
  2. Pomegranate health benefits
  3. Pomegranate Side effects
  4. Takeaway

Pomegranate is loaded with fibres, minerals, vitamins and bioactive plant compounds. It contains neither cholesterol nor any saturated fats. It has a high concentration of antioxidants and bioactive polyphenols. A cup of pomegranate seeds contains 24 grams of sugar and 144 calories.

As per the USDA Nutrition Database, 100 grams of pomegranate contains the following values:

Nutrients Value per 100g
Water 77.93 g
Energy 83 kcal
Protein 1.67 g
Fats 1.17 g
Carbohydrate 18.70 g
Fibre 4.0 g
Sugars 13.67 g

   

Minerals Value per 100 g
Calcium 10 mg
Iron 0.30 mg
Magnesium 12 mg
Phosphorus 36 mg
Potassium 236 mg
Sodium 3 mg
Zinc 0.35 mg

 

Vitamin Value per 100 g
Vitamin B1 0.067 mg
Vitamin B2 0.053 mg
Vitamin B3 0.293 mg
Vitamin B6 0.075 mg
Vitamin B9 38 µg
Vitamin C 10.2 mg
Vitamin E 0.6 µg
Vitamin K 16.4 mg

 

Fats/ Fatty acids Value per 100 g
Unsaturated 0.120 g
Monounsaturated 0.093 g
Polyunsaturated 0.079 g

Pomegranates prevent cancer

One of the common types of cancer in men is prostate cancer. A laboratory study showed that the extract of pomegranate may prove to be useful in curbing cancer cells reproduction and even cause cell death in cancer cells. One of the blood markers for prostate cancer is prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Doubling of the levels of PSA in men over a short period of time indicates an increased risk of death due to prostate cancer.  According to a study, consuming 8 ounces of pomegranate juice can increase the doubling time for PSA from 15 months to 54 months, which is remarkable. Another study found a similar result using a kind of pomegranate extract.

In other studies, pomegranate extracts have been reported to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. However, the evidence stands limited only to laboratory studies. Further research is required before making any claims.

(Read more: Cancer types)

Pomegranate as a vitamin C source

Vitamin C is important for initiating the formation and maintenance of blood vessels, skin and bones. Pomegranate is a natural source of this vitamin. The juice of pomegranate can fulfill more than 40% of the daily requirement of vitamin C in the human body. But it breaks down during pasteurization, so it is advisable to consume homemade or fresh pomegranate juice to get the best benefits of the nutrient.

Pomegranate as an anti-inflammatory agent

Chronic inflammation is one of the driving forces of many severe diseases including cancer, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's. 

Studies show that pomegranate is effective in coping with the inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. It was additionally reported that ellagic acid present in pomegranate is responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit.

A 12-week study was conducted on 50 people suffering from type 2 diabetes. The study suggested that the consumption of a given amount of pomegranate juice every day can lower the interleukin 6 and inflammatory markers CRP. Pomegranate can be an amazing addition to the diet for reducing inflammation in diabetic patients.

Lab studies suggest that the punicic acid present in pomegranate exhibit a strong anti-inflammatory effect against some breast cancer cell lines.

(Read more: Inflammatory disease)

Pomegranate for diabetes

Pomegranates have known to be very effective for lowering blood sugar levels in the body. The flowers and seeds of the pomegranate fruit are especially effective for patients suffering from diabetes and hyperglycemia. Doctors across the globe are studying pomegranate seeds, flowers, extracts, and juice to understand their potential benefits for lowering blood sugar levels and their hypoglycemic properties.

Research shows that compounds in pomegranate have antidiabetic actions. Further, the sugar juice fractions were found to have unique antioxidant polyphenols such as tannins and anthocyanins, which could aid to control conditions in type 2 diabetes. Hence, there is evidence of the anti-diabetic activity of pomegranate fruit, although not conclusive.

(Read more: Diabetes care)

Pomegranate for blood pressure

High blood pressure is a becoming common in every generation. It is generally linked to bad lifestyle habits and dietary patterns and is considered one of the driving forces behind strokes and heart attack. According to a study, consuming 5 ounces of pomegranate juice every day for a period of 2 weeks can help in significantly lowering the blood pressure. Another study found pomegranate juice significantly lowers the systolic blood pressure.

(Read more: High blood pressure)

Pomegranate for heart

Heart diseases have become the most common reason for premature death all over the world. Various factors like stress, lifestyle, high blood pressure and imbalanced cholesterol levels in the body are responsible for the prevalence of heart diseases.  Pomegranate has been found to be an excellent hypotensive agent (reduces blood pressure) this relieving the extra pressure on the heart.  Studies suggest that pomegranate contains a fatty acid called punicic acid which may help in protecting against heart disease.

in a clinical study, 51 people suffering from high cholesterol were given a certain amount of pomegranate seed oil for a period of 4 weeks. At the end of the designated period, a significant reduction in the triglyceride levels was noted in all the subjects along with an improved ratio of triglycerides and HDL. Another study observed a significant lowering in the bad cholesterol levels (LDL) in people suffering from type 2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) on ingestion of pomegranate juice. Pomegranate juice has been proven to inhibit the LDL cholesterol from oxidation which is responsible for causing atherosclerosis.

(Read more: Heart disease causes)

Pomegranate juice for erectile dysfunction

 Erectile dysfunction is associated with oxidative damage which can cause a reduction in blood flow towards the erectile tissue. Pomegranate juice is traditionally used for reducing the symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Animal studies suggest that pomegranate juice can increase the blood flow in the erectile tissue thereby helping achieve an erection.

In a clinical study, 53 men who were suffering from erectile dysfunction were given pomegranate juice daily. However, the study reported that pomegranate juice doesn't have any satisfactory effects in alleviating this problem.

Extensive research is still needed to understand the potency of pomegranate in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Pomegranate as an antimicrobial

Pomegranate contains plant compounds which are helpful in fighting with harmful microorganisms. Studies suggest that pomegranates are useful for fighting common infectious yeast Candida albicans.  Pomegranate extracts along with copper have been found to possess some antimicrobial action against the methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus. The antibacterial effects of pomegranate extracts have also been demonstrated to be very useful in preventing some oral bacteria thus protecting the gums and teeth from diseases like periodontitis and gingivitis.

Pomegranate for brain

Studies suggest that there is some evidence associating pomegranate with memory improvement. A study with surgical patients indicated that pomegranate extract was able to prevent the memory deficit after a surgery. Another study indicates that pomegranate juice can improve the visual and verbal memory markers. Additionally, it is also been found to help in fighting the symptoms of Alzheimer's.

(Read more: Dementia treatment)

Pomegranate for joint pain and arthritis

The anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranate can be very helpful in treating joint inflammation associated with arthritis. Laboratory studies suggest that the extract of pomegranate is helpful in blocking enzymes which may damage the joints in osteoarthritic people. In vivo studies also claim the anti-arthritic effects of pomegranate extracts. But very limited research has been conducted upon humans so far so it is best to talk to your doctor to know more about the anti-arthritic effects of pomegranate.

  • Low blood pressure
    Pomegranate juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels in the body. If you are suffering from low blood pressure, it is best not to consume pomegranate juice.
  • Allergy
    Pomegranate may cause allergy in some people. The symptoms of pomegranate allergy include painful swallowing, rashes, hives, facial swelling, and difficulty in breathing.
  • The Pomegranate enzyme may affect the liver
  • Pomegranate contains enzymes which may hinder the functioning of the liver. If a person is on a medication of any kind for a liver disorder, he/she must consult the doctor before consuming pomegranates.
  • Pomegranate contains high sugar content
     Although pomegranate is helpful in fighting diabetes, patients suffering from diabetes are suggested to consume it vigilantly as it contains a lot of sugar and may spike blood sugar levels.
  • High calories
    Pomegranate should be avoided by people who are trying to lose weight as it contains a lot of calories and may lead to weight gain if consumed in excess.

Pomegranate is a great and tasty fruit. It is loaded with health benefits and is able to relieve the symptoms of some of the most dangerous diseases like cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, and hypertension. Pomegranate is enriched with various antioxidants, nutrients, vitamins and minerals which are super beneficial for the human body. But along with the many advantages of pomegranate, it also has some side effects. Pomegranates may cause harm if consumed excessively and some people may be allergic to this fruit. No matter how beneficial or harmful a food supplement is, it is always best to understand its possible effects as per different body types and symptoms.

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References

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