Pomegranates are unique-looking spherical fruits with thick red skin, white spongy inner walls, and white seeds individually encased in thick red juice sacs. The juice sacs have a pleasing sweet-sour taste and the edible seeds have a crunchy texture.
Pomegranate, or Punica granatum, is native to Western and Central Asia, from Iran to northern India. It also has a lengthy history of cultivation all throughout the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, and Mediterranean regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe. It was brought to North America in the 1700s, and it is now widely cultivated in California.
Pomegranate can be enjoyed in many ways, with the most common being handheld eating. The pomegranate is cut open and pulled apart to reveal the seeds and juice sacs. Alternately, you can remove the seeds and press them to release the juice. Pomegranate juice is especially common in Iran, but other countries enjoy it as well.
People throughout history have eaten this fruit for its unique taste and its assumed health benefits. Today, research is supporting some of the claims for health benefits of pomegranates and pomegranate juice.
An 8-oz serving of pomegranate juice contains:
- Calories: 135
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 34 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugar: 30 grams
- Sodium: 10 grams
For comparison, one fresh pomegranate contains:
- Calories: 234
- Protein: 5 grams
- Fat: 3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 53 grams
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Sugar: 39 grams
- Sodium: 8 grams
Pomegranates are a good source of:
Pomegranates are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, as well as several other key nutrients. In fact, eating one pomegranate gives you about 28 mg of vitamin C, which is almost 50 percent of your daily recommended intake (DRI). This fruit also provides about 666 mg of potassium, or 19 percent of your DRI.
While pomegranates lose much of their vitamin C content when juiced, they retain nearly all of their potassium, about 536 mg or 15 percent of your DRI. Potassium is an important mineral that helps your nerves and heart stay strong. Enjoying fresh pomegranates or their juice gives you plenty of this key mineral.
Potential Health Benefits of Pomegranate Juice
Research indicates that pomegranate juice has several key properties that may help improve your overall health.
Reduced Risk for Cardiovascular Diseases
Pomegranates have a good amount of polyphenol compounds called punicalagins or ellagitannins. These antioxidants benefit your cardiovascular system, helping it to keep artery walls from thickening and reducing the buildup of cholesterol and plaque. Pomegranate juice has also been shown to contain significant amounts of anthocyanins and anthoxanthins that support good heart health.
Supports Joint Health
Pomegranates contain antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties as well. These antioxidants may have a role in reducing osteoarthritis since they are shown to have a moderating effect on the formation of inflammatory cytokines. Initial research also shows that the juice may help you if you're experiencing conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or other inflammatory diseases.
Potential Risks of Pomegranate Juice
While pomegranate juice can provide several key health benefits, it can interfere with certain medicines and should be avoided by people with pomegranate allergies.
Some people can become allergic to pomegranates and pomegranate juice, with symptoms ranging from hives to throat constriction. If you are concerned about potential allergic reactions, speak to your doctor.
Pomegranate juice may interact with certain medications, especially those that help with high blood pressure or blood thinning. Some of these prescription medications may include Coumadin, Vasotec, Altace, Zestril, and other ACE inhibitors.