By Summer Banks on Nov 13, 2017

You have probably heard about it from your friends. You have probably seen commercials advertising it.

And, you most certainly have walked past it at the grocery store.

It is that little red; round thing called the pomegranate fruit. It has become very popular recently to people concerned with their diet and health.

But, you may be wondering what is pomegranate and what is it good for exactly?

In this article, you will discover useful information about pomegranates, plus practical ways you can incorporate this superfood into your daily diet.

What is Pomegrante

What is Pomegranate?

Pomegranate fruit, or Punica granatum, is a red berry that grows on deciduous shrubs during the fall and winter seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. [1]

In the Southern Hemisphere, it grows during the spring and summer seasons. The shrub is often used in ornamental landscaping and can rise as high as 30 feet.

Its bright fruit, which looks like an apple at first glance, is an excellent attractor to butterflies.

Most pomegranates grow to about 2-5 inches wide, approximately the size of a lemon and grapefruit.

Species of pomegranates may have a variety of colors, from a yellowish pink to deep burgundy.

The outer skin of a pomegranate is very thick and not suitable for eating, but the inside is full of hundreds of edible seeds surrounded by water-rich pulp.

The seeds, called arils, can be soft or hard and are most commonly eaten raw or processed into juice.

They are packed full of nutrients that many people have found to be an important part of their overall wellness.

Pomegranates are a prized fruit in many parts of the world. For centuries, some cultures have considered it to be a sacred symbol of fertility and life.

In the west, traditional folk medicine has prized pomegranates for hundreds of years for its healing properties. [2] [3] [4]

Types of Pomegranates

Types of Pomegranates

There are thousands of varieties of pomegranate worldwide. Over 150 of these varieties grow right here in the United States.

They are frost- and drought-tolerant, and they grow well in many different climates as long as it is not too humid.

Pomegranate trees have difficulty producing viable fruit in humid conditions such as is found in Florida, which means you will have challenges in growing a sizeable harvest.

You may find several varieties in your area such as:

  • Sin Pepe
  • Angel Red
  • Desertnyi
  • Parfianka
  • Francis
  • Golden Globe
  • Eversweet

The varieties with soft seeds can be more difficult to find out if you are not intending on eating the seeds raw then any variety will fit your needs. [2]

Pomegranate Flower

The Pomegranate Flower

Pomegranate flowers are quite beautiful. They grow in many different colors and shapes, which is why landscapers often use its shrub in ornamental plantings.

Plus, the flowers have a long blossoming period. But, the extract inside the flower is even more incredible.

Studies have found that extracts from the pomegranate flower and leaves may act as a natural appetite suppressant.

Another benefit of combining pomegranate flower extract with the extract from the peel and juice also provides the advantage of reducing blood lipid and glucose levels.

These benefits are of great importance to people who struggle with obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. [5] [6]

Pomegranate Nutrition Facts

Pomegranate Nutrition Facts

Pomegranates are packed with nutrition and considered to be a “superfood.” Here’s why.

One cup of pomegranate seeds will give you:

Pomegranates contain two unique substances to help it truly be a “superfood”- punicalagins and punicic acid.

Punicalagins are an extremely effective and powerful antioxidant. It is so powerful that it has more antioxidative effect than red wine or green tea.

Punicic acid is an essential fatty acid similar to Omega fatty acids, which have been proven to have health benefits.

If you are watching your sugar intake, be aware of the high amount of fructose sugar contained in one cup of pomegranate seeds (almost two teaspoons).

The belief is that the beneficial compounds and minerals in a pomegranate will usually outperform any negative effects of sugar.

But, if you are watching your sugar intake, consume pomegranates in moderation.

Experts agree that you can get all the benefits that pomegranates offer in just a two-ounce serving (1/4 cup). [7]

Pomegranate Health Benefits

Pomegranate Health Benefits

The health benefits of pomegranates are astounding. Very few foods can do what the pomegranate can do to combat disease and assist in long-term wellness.

So, what is pomegranate good for?

Pomegranate health benefits including:

  • High in vitamins and minerals
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Antioxidant support
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

They have also been proven to have high anti-fungal, viral, and bacterial properties.

Collectively, these elements have proven to have extended positive effects on an incredible number of medical conditions and diseases such as cancer, arthritis and joint pain, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, Alzheimer’s, fertility, diabetes, HIV, and osteoporosis.

Pomegranates have shown to help improve a person’s memory and exercise performance, decrease muscle soreness, control diarrhea and dysentery and fight tapeworm.

It has also been used to treat the flu, swellings in the mouth, gum disease, dental plaque, sore throat, and hemorrhoids because of its antiseptic properties. [8] [9]

Pomegranate Uses

Pomegranates Uses

Aside from enhancing your landscaping, pomegranates have many different dietary uses. Soft seeds are often eaten raw or mixed with salads or other recipes.

The harder seeds can be pressed to make juice, syrup, wine, or processed into a nutritional supplement.

Dry and boil the fruit to make pomegranate tea.

The crushed or dried flower is also useful for creating a pomegranate extract.

In mixing the extract with a tea of your choice, you can create a healthy tea that is extraordinarily high in antioxidants that fight free radicals.

Free radicals damage cell membranes and contribute to diseases. In addition to disease, pomegranate tea benefits those who experience premature aging of the skin.

Pomegranate tea is believed to help fight wrinkles and slow the aging process of the skin.

Because drinking pomegranate juice can add a significant amount of sugar and calories to a daily diet, many people opt to take the extract as a supplement, which is available in both capsule and liquid forms.

Supplements can be more expensive than juice, but they are more concentrated and powerful, not to mention convenient.

If you are trying to limit your daily calories or if you need to watch your sugar intake, taking a supplement might be a better option for you so you still receive all the benefits that pomegranates offer. [5] [10] [11]

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate Juice Benefits

By now, you are aware that drinking pomegranate juice or mixing it with tea is an excellent addition to your diet.

Pomegranate health benefits are extensive, and it is likely safe for most people. However, some people may want to consider avoiding it.

Pomegranate juice is known to be a great asset to those who have high blood pressure.

But, because it lowers blood pressure so well, people who already have low blood pressure should avoid drinking large amounts of pure pomegranate juice or else their pressure could drop to dangerous levels.

The danger of low blood pressure also applies to people who must undergo surgery since it could be difficult to control blood pressure both during and after surgery.

Doctors typically advise their patients to stop drinking pomegranate juice or taking its supplements at least two weeks before a scheduled procedure.

Pomegranate juice is likely safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

But, the medical community has not yet proven it. It has conducted only a few studies so far.

Doctors advise that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to drink only the juice and avoid pomegranate extract as a precautionary measure. [9]

Pomegranate Side Effects

Pomegranate Side Effects

Though it is safe for most people, there are a few pomegranate juice side effects that may occur.

Some people may experience a slight allergic reaction when the juice is applied directly to the skin such as itching and swelling. Others may experience a runny nose or slight difficulty in breathing, though this is not common.

As already mentioned, the juice may lower blood pressure to dangerously low levels. If you have naturally low blood pressure, drinking pomegranate juice in moderation is wise.

Experts also strongly advise to not eat the stem or root of the pomegranate since these portions of the pomegranate are poisonous.

Pomegranate and Medications

Pomegranate and Medications

Pomegranate juice and extract may interact with certain medications since it changes how the liver processes it.

The result is that the effects and side effects of the drug may increase to unhealthy levels.

Also, the high amount of vitamin K may counteract the intended effect of blood thinning medication.

The primary medications that may interact with pomegranate are usually the ones used to control high blood pressure and hypertension.

However, other medications such as pain relievers and anti-depressants may also negatively interact with pomegranate. [7]

Pomegranate and Weight Loss

Pomegranates and Weight Loss

Beyond its overall health benefits, pomegranates can also help you to lose weight. Here’s how.

High Fiber. The seeds are quite high in fiber, which is important for long-term weight loss since foods containing high amounts of fiber keep your appetite satisfied for longer periods.

Antioxidants. Pomegranates are also high in antioxidants and vitamins, which are great for detoxifying the body and clearing it of waste.
Low Fat and Calories. A single pomegranate contains approximately a half cup of seeds that equals about 73-85 calories. And, it has only one gram of fat.

High Potassium. Consuming foods with high levels of potassium are not just good for heart health, they are also helpful in preventing bloating and edema (water retention). Pomegranates have about 200 mg per half-cup serving.

High Calcium and Iron. The pancreas and thyroid need adequate amounts of calcium and iron to efficiently function. Pomegranates help by supplying necessary enzymes. The pancreas and thyroid can then correctly convert food into fuel instead of storing it as fat.

High Carbohydrates. Like all fruit, pomegranates are high in carbohydrates which are essential for supplying the body with energy. Eating too many pomegranate seeds can result in an effect on blood sugar levels, however. Thankfully, its high fiber helps to keep it from being a high glycemic food and it keeps you from eating too much. [12] [13]

Choosing a Pomegranate

Choosing a Ripe Pomegranate

At this point, you probably are anxious to give pomegranate a try. A few visual cues will help you to choose a ripe, tasty one.

First, pomegranates can have a range of colors. Look for ones that have the deepest color and have a smooth, firm texture on the skin.

Next, take note of the size and shape of the fruit. The ripe ones are not usually round like apples. Choose one that has irregular angles and flattened sides.

Finally, pick one up and gauge its weight. The heavier the better. A heavy pomegranate means that its seeds are full, juicy, and ready to eat.

Now that you have chosen a ripe pomegranate, how to do you get into it so you can enjoy eating it? It is easier than you think. [14]

Remove Pomegranate Seeds

Remove Pomegranate Seeds

The problem many new lovers of this amazing superfood encounter is the difficulty in removing the seeds without making a mess.

A few simple tricks can help you prepare a pomegranate without any fuss.

Before you begin, remember to always wash fruit before you cut into it to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Method #1: To open a pomegranate, cut the crown off and then score it into quartered sections.

Place the fruit in a bowl full of water that is big enough for both the fruit and your hands.

With your hands in the bowl, press your thumbs into the center of the fruit to force pressure outward, then pry it apart.

The sections you scored with your knife should break apart and the seeds will begin spilling out.

The fleshy membranes and the leathery peel will float to the top and the seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Remove the membranes and peel then strain the water out of the bowl to retrieve the seeds.

Method #2: Another method is to cut the pomegranate into two halves then gently squeeze the seeds out into a bowl.

Then, take a spoon and tap the back side of the now-empty half section.

You may have to tap it with a bit of force to loosen any remaining seeds that might still be holding onto the membranes.

Both methods are effective.

But, method #1 works better because the juice squirts out along with the seeds. [5] [15]

Pomegranate Foods

Pomegranate Foods

Pomegranates can easily be incorporated into anyone’s diet either by eating the raw seeds, mixing the juice into teas or recipes, or simply drinking the juice straight.

Here are several recipe suggestions to try if you are trying to lose weight or just trying to stay healthy.

Raw Seeds – For a snack, eat one cup of raw pomegranate seeds similar to how you would eat nuts. One cup will equal approximately 150 calories. You can also mix them into a salad for an added crunchy texture.

Salad Dressing – Blend pomegranates with red wine vinegar and olive oil for a healthy salad dressing or addition to roasted vegetables.

Slushy Meal Replacement – Blend one cup of seeds with 1 ½ cups of ice and add a dash of a liquid sweetener like Stevia or honey for an added sweet flavor. Adding mint or a squeeze of lemon juice also adds a bright flavor.

Pizza – Create a pizza with roasted eggplant, spinach, feta cheese, and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

Sweet Potatoes – Fill a sweet potato with cilantro, coconut flakes, lime juice, and pomegranate seeds and bake for a delicious twist on baked potatoes.

Pomegranate-Cranberry Sauce – Incorporate pomegranate seeds while you cook cranberries for an added mix of flavor for the holidays.

Roasted Chicken – Cook the pomegranate seeds and sprigs of fresh thyme in simmering water until it forms a thick syrup. Use it as a glaze over roasted chicken.

Barbeque Sauce – Top off your chicken or ribs with a tasty barbeque sauce made by simmering together pomegranate molasses (heated and reduced pomegranate juice) with ketchup, cumin, garlic, and your choice of hot sauce.

Feeling thirsty? Here are three great pomegranate drinks to try:

Iced Tea – Mix the seeds with any tea of your choice in a large pitcher filled with ice. Add water if necessary and allow it to fully chill in the refrigerator.

You may add a liquid sweetener such as Stevia or honey if you like and as long as you do not have issues with your blood sugar levels.

Pomegranate iced tea is a great way to cleanse the intestines.

Flavored Water – If you find drinking water plain boring, mix pomegranates with your desired choice of water including sparkling to make drinking water a lot more enjoyable.

Straight Up – Drinking pure pomegranate juice straight up is always a good choice for a quick, tasty treat. [15] [16]

Pomegranate Juice Fast

The Pomegranate Juice Fast

If you are seeking to lose weight quickly, you might consider doing a pomegranate juice fast where you drink the juice for up to (but no more than) three days.

You may also drink any tea of your choice and, of course, water for these three days.

You can make your homemade pomegranate juice for this fast or you can choose the one you like from a trusted health food store.

Making your own is preferable, but it can be a messy process.

So, if you purchase the juice from a store, be sure it contains no added sugar since the juice is already so sweet.

The diuretic effect and high fiber of the pomegranate juice will cause you to lose water and flush waste from your body quickly when you are doing the pomegranate juice fast.

You can expect to lose up to 10 pounds, which makes it essential that you check with a doctor before you begin, especially if you are diabetic because of the high fructose content that pomegranates have.

Conclusion on Pomegranate

Scientists have not conclusively proven the effectiveness of pomegranate nutritional benefits in existing health conditions.

They have conducted only a few, small studies so far, but they agree that pomegranates might contain some degree of health benefit.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, millions of people all over the world strongly believe through personal experience that pomegranates have an incredible effect against a wide variety of ailments and that it is an excellent choice for continued good health.

It bears repeating that eating pomegranates and drinking their juices do not replace the importance of making healthy food choices and maintaining a regular exercise routine. Pomegranates are only meant to be a small component of your overall lifestyle.

Check with your doctor before adding pomegranates to your daily diet, primarily if you already are being treated for a chronic condition.

No matter how you choose to put more pomegranate into your diet, you will soon discover why they are a healthy and tasty way to add nutritional value to your daily diet and improve your general health.

Article Sources
About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.