Pomegranates have been used for years for their health benefits. Modern science has found that pomegranates can help protect your heart and may even prevent cancer.
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. Bottled pomegranate juice is also an easy way to enjoy some of the health benefits of this delicious fruit.
Pomegranates are grown on trees. These trees need ample heat to grow and ripen these hard, delicious fruits. Pomegranates are native to the Middle East and some Asian countries, but they can also be produced in the United States. The majority of pomegranates are grown in California. They’re in season from September to November, but their long shelf life means you can usually find them in grocery stores until January.
Pomegranates can have up to three times more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. Antioxidants protect cells from damage, prevent diseases — such as cancer — and reduce inflammation and the effects of aging.
Additionally, other health benefits of pomegranates include the following:
Atherosclerosis — the build-up of cholesterol and fats in the arteries — is a common cause of heart disease. Pomegranate juice may help reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol — “bad” cholesterol” — that clogs arteries. It can also increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol — “good” cholesterol” — which lowers the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
Initial studies have revealed that people with type 2 diabetes who began to drink pomegranate juice showed an improvement in insulin resistance. Pomegranates can also help people without diabetes maintain a healthy weight.
Lowering Risk of Cancer
Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, both of which are known to prevent free radicals from damaging your cells. In some studies, pomegranates show potential to be effective in preventing prostate, breast, lung, and colon cancers. Additionally, preclinical studies on animals have shown that eating pomegranate can inhibit the growth of lung, skin, colon, and prostate tumors. More research is needed to understand the effects on humans.
In addition, pomegranates provide:
Nutrients per Serving
Half of a pomegranate is one serving and contains:
Although pomegranates are typically safe to eat, some people may experience unwanted side effects. An allergic reaction to pomegranate is rare, but can happen. If you have a preexisting allergy to plants, check yourself for symptoms of an allergic reaction when consuming pomegranate. Additionally, pomegranate can interact with some drugs and medications. You may want to avoid or limit your consumption of pomegranate, if you're taking medication for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors or Antihypertensive drugs), or medication that is changed (Cytochrome P450 2D6) or broken down (Crestor) by your liver.
Some pomegranate-flavored drinks have many calories and little nutrition because they contain more sugar than pomegranate juice. To get the health benefits of pomegranates without empty calories, look for bottles that say “100% juice.”
How to Prepare Fresh Pomegranate
To prepare fresh pomegranate you need to 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.
You can easily incorporate pomegranate into your diet by:
- Adding them to a quinoa salad with other fresh fruits and vegetables
- Sprinkle pomegranate seeds onto of yogurt with granola to make a parfait
- Give your salad a pop by adding pomegranate seeds
- Use pomegranate seeds or juice to add a kick to your favorite cocktail
- Mix pomegranate juice, rice vinegar, oil, garlic, and white sugar to make a salad dressing