Pomegranate fruits are widely consumed and used as preventive and therapeutic agents since ancient times, Dr. Magdy Badran says.
Pomegranate gained widespread popularity as a functional food due to the high content of bioactive components of the whole fruit, as well as its juice and extracts.
Pomegranate is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. In addition to antioxidants, pomegranates are a source of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium.
One pomegranate supplies one-quarter of a day’s worth of folate and one-third of your daily vitamin C.
Pomegranate juice contains several B vitamins, the highest of which is folate. Folate is needed to synthesize and repair DNA and it plays a role in growth and development — it’s especially important for pregnant women because it helps prevent birth defects.
Other B vitamins in the juice are pantothenic acid, B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.
All B vitamins play a role in the development of red blood cells and energy metabolism. Vitamin K is known for its role in blood clotting and bone metabolism.
Benefits of Pomegranate
Fruits rich in polyphenols, such as pomegranates, have been shown to have health benefits relating to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The beneficial effects of pomegranate components have also been observed in animal models for respiratory diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative disease, and hyperlipidemia.
It may help with cancer prevention, immune support, and fertility.
All parts of the fruit were reported to have therapeutic activity including anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, anti-diabetes, hepatoprotective, and antioxidant activity.
Pomegranate is a Rich Source of Phytochemicals
Pomegranate contains more than 100 phytochemicals. These chemicals are powerful antioxidants. Pomegranate seeds owe their superfood status to the polyphenols, powerful antioxidants thought to offer heart health and anti-cancer benefits.
Pomegranate juice contains higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices. It also has three times more antioxidants than green tea.
Pomegranate juice is a powerful anti-inflammatory because of its high concentration of antioxidants. It can help reduce inflammation throughout the body and prevent oxidative stress and damage.
Pomegranate peel is generally non-edible but rich in polyphenols which exhibit various biological activities, such as eliminating free radicals, inhibiting oxidation and microbial growth and decreasing the risk of cardio and cerebrovascular diseases and some cancers.
The antioxidants in the juice and their high concentration are believed to stall the progress of Alzheimer disease and protect memory.
The pomegranate peel extract antioxidant activity is 10 times higher than the pulp extract.
The juice of a single pomegranate has more than 40 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C can be broken down when pasteurized, so opt for homemade or fresh pomegranate juice to get the most of the nutrient.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that aids in the synthesis of collagen and neurotransmitters, and it also assists in protein metabolism.
Vitamin C is a potent reducing and antioxidant agent that functions in fighting bacterial infections, detoxifying reactions, preventing or delaying certain cancers and promoting healthy aging. It appears to regenerate other antioxidants in the body, too.
The juice can reduce inflammation in the gut and improve digestion. It may be beneficial for people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
Pomegranate benefits the digestive system by providing B-complex vitamins that help your body efficiently convert fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy.
One fruit provides 25% of the folate and about 1/6 of the thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B- 6 you need daily. Pomegranate also plays a vital role in the secretion of enzymes to improve the function of digestion.
One pomegranate provides 11 grams of fiber, more than twice the amount of fiber in a bowl of bran flakes. Fiber helps food move through your body effectively, assisting with digestion.
Fiber fights off constipation and prevents other conditions that affect your digestive tract, like diverticulitis and hemorrhoids.
Pomegranate Supports Cardiovascular Health
Pomegranate juice is in the running as the most heart-healthy juice. It appears to protect the heart and arteries.
It may also slow the growth of plaque and buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. But pomegranate may react negatively with blood pressure and cholesterol medications like statins.
It works through several mechanisms to fight cardiovascular disease by reducing oxidative stress, supporting the synthesis and activity of nitric oxide (a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax and also improves circulation) and inhibiting the oxidation of potentially harmful LDL (low-density lipoprotein).
Nitric oxide exerts many essential antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects in the body, including scavenging certain reactive oxygen species, preventing LDL oxidation, deterring the adhesion and aggregation of blood cells and platelets along the endothelial cell lining, and inhibiting the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells.
LDL oxidation also reduces the activity of enzymes that produce nitric oxide in those blood vessels, thus preventing them from responding normally to changing demands for blood flow. Drinking pomegranate juice daily may also help lower systolic blood pressure.
Pomegranate Counters Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
In addition to its diverse cardioprotective effects, pomegranate may have a profound benefit for people with diabetes and the pre-diabetic condition known as metabolic syndrome.
Pomegranate components appear to lower blood sugar levels immediately following a meal. Diabetes is associated with increased oxidative stress and the development of atherosclerosis.
Pomegranate offers an array of protective benefits for people with diabetes, by preventing aberrantly high blood sugar levels, protecting the heart against the potentially devastating cardiovascular consequences of diabetes, its antioxidant power and ability to fight atherosclerosis.
The immune system can be strengthened by eating pomegranates. The anti-inflammatory characteristics of the fruit make it boost the immune system. It also has vitamin C, that creates antibodies in the human body, thus making it stronger to fight against illnesses.
Between the vitamin C and other immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin E, pomegranate juice can prevent illness and fight off infection. Pomegranates have also been shown to be antibacterial and antiviral in lab tests.
Pomegranates not only relax the internal tensions of the body but also reduce stress levels. Stress weakens the immune system.
Pomegranate extracts contain large amounts of a wide range of polyphenols known to have cancer-preventive properties.
Studies now show that it has tremendous potential to act as a powerful chemopreventive agent against prostate, breast, colorectal, and lung cancers through a series of overlapping, complementary mechanisms.
These mechanisms include protecting DNA from damage, inhibiting excessive cell growth, promoting natural cancer-cell death by apoptosis (programmed cell death), and preventing cancer from spreading.
Extracts from the pomegranate fruit, seed and peel have been shown to selectively inhibit the growth of prostate and lung cancer cells with no visible toxicity to normal cells.