Pomegranate seeds come from a pomegranate, which is a fruit about the size of a large orange, obscurely six-sided, with a smooth, thick skin that ranges in color from brownish yellow to deep red. The inside of a pomegranate is a sight to behold — separated by cream-colored membranes are chambers of hundreds of arils, which are the seed pods inside a pomegranate. These arils consist of juicy, brilliant-red fruit surrounding tiny, crisp, edible seeds.
These arils or seed pods are what we commonly refer to as “pomegranate seeds,” and they are eaten either raw or are processed into pomegranate juice. When I mention “pomegranate juice,” I mean 100 percent pure pomegranate juice because you must beware of pomegranate juices that are actually made from pomegranates plus other filler fruits — or worse, added sugar!
Pomegranates have an impressive nutrient profile:
One cup of arils (174 grams) contains:
- Fiber:7 grams.
- Protein:3 grams.
- Vitamin C:30% of the RDA.
- Vitamin K:36% of the RDA.
- Folate:16% of the RDA.
- Potassium:12% of the RDA.
The pomegranate arils (seeds) are also very sweet, with one cup containing 24 grams of sugar, and 144 calories.
Do you still need another reason to try pomegranate seeds? Pomegranate juice (made from pomegranate seeds) has been shown to have antioxidant activity three times higher than red wine and green tea!
10 Health Benefits & Uses of Pomegranate Seeds
- Natural Aphrodisiac
In many cultures, pomegranates have been associated with fertility and abundance for centuries because of their many, many seeds, but in recent years, headlines are even raving about pomegranate’s viagra effect. A study by Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh found that consumption of pure pomegranate juice significantly increased salivary testosterone levels (average of 24 percent) in addition to positive effects on blood pressure and mood. Elevated testosterone can lead to heightened moods and increased sexual desire.
- Ease Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) symptoms
Urinary tract infection (UTIs) is a bacterial infection that usually affect the tube that brings urine from the bladder, this can then worsen and the infection soon reaches the bladder. Known to causes pain, a burning sensation, fever and in some cases even blood in the urine, UTIs often requires clinical attention to prevent complications. UTIs must be given proper medical attention in order to avert chances of complications. You may often be advised by your doctor to consume more fluids to flush out the bacteria from your body. But often, the advice you will get from doctors is to drink a lot of fluids to help flush out the bacteria.
One such fluid can be pomegranate juice which is loaded with antioxidants. When it comes to relieving the symptoms of UTI, pomegranate juice can be the best remedy. Pomegranate is a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants that play a vital role in preventing bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary bladder. While vitamin C boosts the immune system to fight against the bacterial infections, antioxidants help flushing out the toxins from the body. Besides this, the strengthening of immune system provides a quick recovery from UTI.
- Reduce Arthritis & Joint Pain
Arthritis is an inflammation of one or more joints, causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age. There are more than 3 million cases of arthritis in the U.S. each year. Pomegranates make the list for natural arthritis treatments since they’re a source of antioxidants called flavonols, which act as anti-inflammatory agents in the body.
Animal testing demonstrates that pomegranate seed extract may reduce the onset and incidence of collagen-induced arthritis. Studies conducted with animal subjects also show that the severity of arthritis and joint inflammation were significantly reduced with consumption of pomegranate extract.
If you’re already on medication for arthritis, check with your doctor before adding pomegranate products to your daily routine.
- Fight Cancer
When it comes to cancer, more and more research shows that pomegranate seeds are a potent cancer-fighting food. Pomegranate has been shown to exert antitumor effects on various types of cancer cells.
Multiple studies show that pomegranate extracts inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells and even stimulate the programmed cell death of breast cancer cells. Pomegranate seed oil contains punicic acid, an omega-5 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid that has been shown to inhibit breast cancer proliferation. Further research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may also slow the growth of prostate cancer, the leading cancer for men in the U.S. In a study of male subjects with recurrent prostate cancer and rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, researchers found that taking pomegranate juice extract significantly slowed the rate at which PSA was rising. Other studies have found that certain compounds in pomegranate juice show potent antitumorigenic effects and inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells in the laboratory.
- Lower Blood Pressure
The juice of pomegranate seeds contains different types of antioxidants and bioactive polyphenols that have been reported to promote cardiovascular health, including healthy blood pressure levels, through several mechanisms.
A 2013 study concluded that consumption of pomegranate juice should be considered in the context of both dietary and pharmacological interventions for hypertension (high blood pressure). Another study published in Phytotherapy Research also found that pomegranate juice is a beneficial cardio protective supplement for hypertensive subjects and lowered blood pressure naturally after just two weeks of daily intake.
- Fight Bacterial Infections
Pomegranates contain hundreds of different bioactive compounds, including ellagic acid, ellagitannins, punicic acid, flavonoids, anthocyanidins, anthocyanins, estrogenic flavonols and flavones, which appear to be the most therapeutically beneficial pomegranate components. Pomegranate extracts have been used since ancient times to treat several conditions, including parasitic and microbial infections, diarrhea, ulcers, aphthae, hemorrhage and respiratory complications.
Not surprisingly, pomegranates have been suggested to stimulate probiotic bacteria, thus enhancing their beneficial effects at fighting bacterial infections, according to research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
- Improve Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and also associated with cognitive decline. The juice made from pomegranate seeds contains antioxidants at higher levels than many other fruit juices, and pomegranate juice may block or slow the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries of people who are at higher risk of heart disease.
Research published in Clinical Nutrition studied pomegranate juice consumption by patients with carotid artery stenosis, which is a narrowing of either of the two key arteries located in the front of the neck, through which blood from the heart goes to the brain. Participants who consumed pomegranate juice lowered their blood pressure by over 12 percent and had a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque.
Participants who did not take the pomegranate juice actually saw their atherosclerotic plaque increase by 9 percent. Overall, the study found that pomegranate juice consumption reduced plaque in the carotid artery as well as lowered blood pressure and LDL oxidation.
- Improve Memory
Studies have reported memory and other cognitive benefits of polyphenols, which are found abundantly in pomegranate seeds and their juice. One study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine generated intriguing data suggesting that pomegranate polyphenols may provide long-lasting protection from heart surgery-induced memory retention deficits.
There was a clear pattern of postsurgical memory improvement in the pomegranate group across all of the memory domains tested, with an especially strong and long-lasting protective effect in the memory retention domain.
Another study had elderly individuals with memory complaints drink eight ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for four weeks. The subjects who drank pomegranate juice had significantly improved markers of verbal and visual memory.
In addition, animal studies conducted by the Department of Psychology at Loma Linda University have shown the neuroprotective benefits of pomegranates and that incorporating pomegranates into your diet might help delay the onset or slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease, showcasing pomegranate’s ability as an Alzheimer’s natural treatment. Another animal study also showed that pomegranate seed extract exhibited therapeutic potential for memory and muscular coordination, which was most likely related to the extract’s antioxidative and free radical-scavenging actions.
- Improve Exercise Performance
Pomegranate is rich in dietary nitrates, which have been shown to improve exercise performance.
In a study of 19 athletes running on a treadmill, 1 gram of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before exercise significantly enhanced blood flow.
This led to a delay in the onset of fatigue, and an increase in exercise efficiency.
More studies are needed, but it seems like pomegranate may be beneficial for physical performance, similar to beetroot juice.
- Pomegranates Contain Two Plant Compounds with Powerful Medicinal Properties
There are two unique substances in pomegranates that are responsible for most of their health benefits.
Punicalagins are extremely powerful antioxidants found in the juice and peel of a pomegranate. They are so powerful that pomegranate juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea.
Pomegranate extract and powder is typically made from the peel, due to its high antioxidant and punicalagin content.
Punicic acid, also known as pomegranate seed oil, is the main fatty acid in the arils. It is a type of conjugated linoleic acid with potent biological effects.