Health Benefits of Pomegranates

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on May 14, 2024
11 min read

A pomegranate is a sweet, tart fruit with thick, red skin. While the skin is not edible, it holds hundreds of juicy seeds that you can eat plain or sprinkle on salads, oatmeal, hummus, and other dishes.

People have enjoyed pomegranates since ancient times for their health benefits. Modern research has found that the antioxidants in pomegranates can help protect your heart. The anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties of pomegranates may have promising use in cancer treatment and prevention, but more research is needed to prove this.

The most common way to enjoy a pomegranate is to cut it open and pull apart the skin to reveal the edible seeds and juice sacs, which are called arils.

Pomegranates grow on tall shrubs. These shrubs need ample heat to grow and ripen these delicious fruits. Pomegranates are native to Iran and northern India, but they also grow in the U.S. Most pomegranates are grown in California.

Pomegranate pronunciation

Pomegranate is pronounced as “paa·muh·gra·nuht.”

Pomegranate season

In the Northern Hemisphere, pomegranates are in season from September to November, but their long shelf life means you can usually find them in grocery stores until January. You can find pomegranate juice year-round, though.

health benefits of pomegranates infogranate

Inside the leathery skin, pomegranates are divided into several chambers. Each chamber is filled with hundreds of red seeds, which is the part of the pomegranate you eat. In fact, the word pomegranate comes from the Latin phrase pomum grantum, which translates loosely as “apple of many seeds.” 

Scientists call the seeds arils. An aril is a type of seed with a covering that's usually a fleshy and brightly colored tissue. When you break the tissue open, the pomegranate arils release their red, juicy pulp.

Can you eat pomegranate seeds?

You can't eat the peel, but you can juice or eat pomegranate seeds. For instance, you can toss whole seeds in with a salad, on cereal, and in yogurt.

Pomegranates have several health benefits. Many of the benefits are due to their high level of antioxidants. For instance, pomegranates can have up to three times more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. Antioxidants are chemicals in foods that can help protect your cells from other, damaging chemicals and reduce inflammation. 

Other health benefits of pomegranates include the following:

Better heart health

One kind of antioxidant is called a polyphenol. Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols. There is some evidence that polyphenols help protect against diseases in your heart and blood vessels, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis, a buildup of cholesterol and fats in your arteries that is a common cause of heart disease
  • High blood pressure, which can cause a stroke if it's left untreated

Pomegranates have polyphenol compounds called punicalagins or ellagitannins. These antioxidants help prevent your artery walls from thickening and reduce the buildup of cholesterol and plaque. Pomegranate juice also has high amounts of plant pigments called anthocyanins and anthoxanthins, which support heart health. Pomegranate juice may also help reduce LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, which clogs your arteries. It can also increase HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, which lowers your risk of strokes and heart attacks. 

In a clinical trial, people with overweight or obesity who took pomegranate extract supplements for 30 days lowered their body weight, serum glucose, insulin, triglyceride, total cholesterol, LDL-to-HDL ratio, and blood markers that show inflammation. 

Studies also show that pomegranate seed extract can lower blood pressure, possibly by reducing stress from reactive oxygen species (or free radicals), decreasing inflammation, and improving function in your hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain that controls body processes like your appetite, body temperature, and blood pressure.

Reduced risk of some cancers

Because pomegranates are rich in antioxidantsand flavonoids, they help prevent free radicals from damaging your cells. In some early studies, pomegranates show potential to prevent prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancers. And studies in animals have shown that eating pomegranates may help prevent lung, skin, colon, and prostate tumors from growing. But more research is needed to better understand these effects on humans.

Improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes

One study showed that drinking about 200 milliliters (about 7 ounces, or a little less than a cup) per day of pomegranate juice for 6 weeks lowered blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. Another study showed that pomegranate seed oil also reduced fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, although it did not seem to change insulin levels. Early studies have suggested that people with type 2 diabetes who began to drink pomegranate juice showed an improvement in insulin resistance, but more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Support your urinary health

An early study in people who are prone to kidney stones showed that pomegranate extract may help prevent the stones from forming. Researchers think this may be because the polyphenols in pomegranates can lower your blood concentration of some common chemicals found in kidney stones: oxalates, calcium, and phosphates. 

Support your digestive health

Early research shows that pomegranates may have prebiotic effects. Prebiotics are substances in your food that your helpful gut bacteria break down for nutrients. Feeding your good gut bacteria helps support the health of your digestive system. Your gut microbiome plays an important role in protecting you from chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), type 2 diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease, and colorectal cancer. Whole pomegranate seeds also have a lot of fiber, which is another way to help keep your digestive system healthy.

Support your brain health

Ellagitannins, which are polyphenols found in pomegranates, help reduce inflammation throughout your body. Early studies have shown that ellagitannins may help protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by fighting the destructive effects of free radicals and inflammation in your brain.

Support your joint health

A systematic review of studies in test tubes, animals, and humans showed that the antioxidants in pomegranates may help ease symptoms and prevent complications in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Another study showed that pomegranate may also prevent osteoarthritis, which is the most common, wear-and-tear type of arthritis.

Fresh pomegranates are the most nutritious way to eat them; they are low in calories and fat, and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Nutrients per serving

One serving is about half a fresh pomegranate. One serving has:

  • Calories: 72
  • Protein: 2.35 grams
  • Fat: 1.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 26 grams
  • Fiber: 5.5 grams
  • Sugar: 20 grams

An 8-ounce 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


To open a pomegranate, first cut off both ends. You may see the membranes that divide the inside of the fruit. Cut into the skin from top to bottom along these ridges. 

Next, slice deep enough to cut through the skin and the white membrane without cutting the pomegranate seeds. Hold the pomegranate over a bowl of water and pry it apart with your fingers. 

Pull the seeds away from the membrane and skin, allowing them to fall into the bowl of water. The membrane will float to the top of the water, and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Remove the membrane and throw it away. Drain the water from the seeds.

Pomegranate recipes

Here are some ideas for ways to add pomegranates to any meal of your day:

  • Sprinkle pomegranate seeds onto your yogurt and granola to make a breakfast parfait or light dessert.
  • Blend pomegranate juice with bananas and yogurt to make an antioxidant-rich smoothie for a snack.
  • Add the seeds to a quinoa salad with other fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy lunch.
  • Give your dinner salad a tangy pop by adding pomegranate seeds.
  • Toss some onto your pizza or pasta for a crunchy accent.
  • Mix pomegranate juice, rice vinegar, oil, garlic, and white sugar to make a salad dressing.

Pomegranate molasses

Pomegranate molasses is a syrup made by boiling down pomegranate juice, sometimes with added lemon juice and sugar. It can be used to marinate meat or to make salad dressings. Pomegranate molasses is a popular ingredient in West Asian cooking.



Pomegranate juice is especially common in Iran, but it's become more common in other countries as well. 

Pomegranate juice benefits

Pomegranate juice has almost all the same health benefits as seeds. But they lose almost all their fiber and a lot of their vitamin C content when juiced. The juice does keep nearly all of the potassium content. For instance, one serving of juice has about 536 milligrams of potassium. Potassium is an important mineral that helps keep your nerves and heart strong. Enjoying fresh pomegranates or their juice gives you plenty of this key mineral.

Some pomegranate-flavored drinks have more calories, though. These contain more sugar than plain pomegranate juice. To get the health benefits of pomegranates without the extra calories, look for bottles that say “100% juice.” Or, better yet, juice it yourself. 

How to make pomegranate juice

You can remove the pomegranate seeds and press them to release the juice. A large pomegranate will yield between quarter-cup and half-cup of juice.

To extract the juice, crush the seeds in a food mill or sieve. You can also blend the seeds, then pour the liquified mixture through a strainer to remove any leftover pulp from the juice.

You can freeze or can pomegranate juice to make it last longer. If you choose to can it, add a few tablespoons of lemon juice to it before sealing the can to maintain the juice's vibrant color.

Both pomegranate juice and tea are rich in nutrients. Two antioxidants in pomegranate seeds – punicalagins and punicic acid – are highly potent and concentrated in juice and tea. 

Pomegranate tea is made by adding crushed pomegranate seeds, dried pomegranate flowers, or pomegranate juice concentrate to tea leaves or brewed tea.

You can buy or grow pomegranates and make this tea yourself or purchase it at most grocery stores in the tea section. If you buy it premade, you’ll often find it mixed with mint, black tea, or green tea.

Pomegranate tea benefits

Pomegranate tea is a refreshing and healthy drink if you don't add sugar. One cup of brewed pomegranate tea gives you antioxidants and some vitamins, such as vitamins A, C, E and B-complex, as well as some trace minerals such as copper, magnesium, phosphorous, and zinc. And it only has 6 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrate. 


Pomegranate juice can brighten any cocktail, including:

  • Pomegranate martini

    Add 1½ cup of pomegranate juice, 2 ounces of vodka or white tequila, 1 ounce of Cointreau liquor, a splash of sparkling water, and a squeeze of lemon to an ice-filled martini shaker. Shake to combine, and pour into two chilled martini glasses. Add some fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds as a garnish.

  • Pomegranate margarita

    Put 2 ounces of white tequila, 1 ounce of pomegranate juice, three-quarters of an ounce of lime juice, a half-ounce of agave nectar, and a pinch of salt into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake to combine and then strain it into a tumbler filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge or slice.

You can also substitute sparkling water for the alcohol to make a delicious mocktail version of either drink.

Pomegranates are typically safe to eat. But some people may get unwanted side effects. An allergic reaction to pomegranate is rare but can happen. If you have an allergy to plants, watch for possible symptoms, which can include hives or troubled breathing. If you have diabetes, keep in mind that, like most fruits, pomegranates have a lot of sugar. Pomegranates also have a lot of potassium, which you may need to watch out for if you have kidney disease.

Pomegranate can also interact with some drugs and medications. You may want to check with your doctor or limit your consumption of pomegranate if you're taking such medications as:

  • ACE inhibitors or other drugs for high blood pressure
  • Crestor and other drugs for high cholesterol that can break down in your liver
  • Blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin)

Pomegranates grow on dense, multi-trunked shrubs. Sometimes these shrubs can be pruned into single-trunked trees. The branches of these shrubs are thorny with dark green, oval-shaped leaves. They can grow up to 10-12 feet tall.

How to grow pomegranates

Pomegranates grow best in warm climates that have temperatures over 85 F (29 C) for at least 120 days a year. The shrub thrives in loamy, well-drained soil and should be planted in an area that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

If you want to grow your own pomegranate shrub, it's best to start with a hardwood cutting or a branch of a larger pomegranate shrub that has been trimmed after shedding its leaves for the winter. Make the cutting in late fall or early winter, and plant it in a pot. By the following spring, transplant the cutting into the ground.

In a few years, your pomegranate shrub will reach maturity, and it will flower and then bear fruit. Pomegranates are typically harvested between August and November. Let the fruit ripen for as long as possible on the tree, because pomegranates won't continue to ripen after they're picked. While harvesting pomegranates, cut as close to the fruit as you can, and handle the fruit gently to avoid puncturing the skin.

Pomegranates are round, red fruits packed with crunchy, juicy seeds called arils. People have enjoyed pomegranates since ancient times for their health benefits. They have powerful antioxidants that can help protect the health of your heart, kidneys, and gut microbiome. They may also help protect you from Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and some cancers. Add pomegranate to your diet by sprinkling its seeds onto your salads, oatmeal, hummus, or other dishes.


How many pomegranates should I eat a day?

One serving is about half a pomegranate, which has about 23 grams of carbohydrate and 20 grams of sugar. This is a fairly high sugar content, so though it's safe to eat pomegranate every day, you may want to limit yourself to one serving a day to keep from taking in too much sugar.

Is pomegranate a superfood?

Yes, pomegranates can be considered a superfood. A superfood is a natural food that has a lot of good nutrients while also being low in calories. So, based on their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, pomegranates meet the criteria for a superfood.