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Pomegranate fruits and seeds are popular in ancient myths. It is even given a sacred position in some cultures and pagan rituals. In some versions of the popular Greek mythology, Persephone couldn’t leave the underworld after consuming 6 pomegranate seeds she was unable to resist, even after being warned that she couldn’t eat anything during her stay.
The pomegranate is also considered a fruit of beauty, love, marriage, health, youth, and even life. Besides its red color, there must be something about pomegranates that made people from older times equate them with life itself.
The pomegranate tree dates back all the way to ancient Persia, the surrounding Mediterranean nations and the Arabian Peninsula. The tree itself can grow in a variety of climates but thrives best in and grows fruit to ripeness in places with low humidity, high temperatures, and rich loamy soil.
The fruit grows as big as oranges, with colors that run from reddish orange to a deep reddish brown. The leathery skin protects the interior of the fruit which is filled with jewel-like seeds called arils.
The seeds are sour and sweet at the same time, popping in your mouth once you chew on them. It is a popular snack for people of all ages.
Rich in Phytonutrients
Plants and fruits rich in color are also usually rich in phytonutrients. Pomegranates are no exception, and contain many of these—some even in high concentrations. Some of the phytonutrients present in the fruit’s juice are anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonoids, and phenolic acid.
Punicalagin, a type of ellagitannin, is also found in large quantities in pomegranates. Another bioactive component derived from the oils of pomegranate seeds are punicic acid. With the pomegranate possessing a phytonutrient-rich profile, it possesses antioxidant properties that are two to three times more potent that green tea and red wine.
Phytonutrients have long been hailed as the best bioactive nutrients found in nature, with the ability to remain active even when ingested and metabolized. It helps in keeping the internal homeostasis of the body conducive to important life-preserving functions. Evidence also shows that these phytonutrients possess therapeutic capabilities that can be further harnessed in the field of pharmacology.
Good for the Heart
However, too much cholesterol can lead to a buildup in the bloodstream, plaques in arteries, and blood clots. If cholesterol oxidizes in the walls of an artery, it can trigger the immune system to think that it is a foreign body that needs to be attacked. This is what leads to certain heart diseases such as artherosclerosis.
Pomegranate juice can also bring down high blood pressure. High blood pressure places an abnormal amount of stress on the heart, causing it to pump harder to deliver blood and oxygen to the rest of the body.
However, be warned that excess pomegranate juice can be bad for people who already have low blood pressure or those who are scheduled to undergo major surgeries or medical procedures.
Good for Brain Activity
With an improved cardiovascular system, oxygen is delivered more efficiently to the brain. Damage to the brain and neurons is inevitable without enough oxygen. Polyphenols in pomegranate have been found aid against this through its ability to help improve memory and cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults.
Since it is also rich in folates and other B-vitamins, development of cognitive abilities and protection against neuron oxidation is prevented or lessened. A pregnant mother with no allergies to pomegranates or other plant-derived products may consume this fruit if deemed all right by their physician.
Children in their formative years and teenagers faced with the pressures of learning may find that consuming pomegranates can help them in studying and memorization.
Anti-inflammation and Anti-Microbial
Inflammation is the leading cause of certain diseases like diabetes, cancer, ulcers, and arthritis. A healthy immune system provides a normal inflammatory response, not one that is overreactive or prolonged.
Rich in vitamins and especially ascorbic acid, pomegranates provide both a boost to the immune system and keeps oxidative stress at a minimum. This is important in keeping the body young and healthy.
Our gastrointestinal system hosts a variety of gut bacteria that helps with digestion, making it important that the immune system does not attack it by mistake.
Harmful foreign bacteria also can’t be introduced to the gut. Thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, pomegranates can help you digest food properly and make sure that your metabolism is not thrown off its proper functions.
Laboratory tests have shown that oxidative stress is reduced in patients who drank pomegranate juice. These patients were also found to be less likely to develop infections that could lead to further hospitalization.
Inflammation of the joints may also be aided by the regular consumption of pomegranate juice. A study has shown that pomegranates can inhibit the enzymes that cause pain and joint damage in humans.
Provides Energy and Helps with Recovery
Pomegranate juice proves a better choice over sugar-filled energy drinks because it can provide more caloric energy and potassium without the need for more sugar for palatability.
Active people may choose to drink pomegranate juice before, during, and after intense activities to help their bodies take on the stress and recover faster. The juice also replenishes electrolytes in the body providing bones and joints the nutrients and vitamins needed to stay strong.
One other reason why pomegranates symbolize love, marriage, and vitality is their ability to help maintain the sexual drive of men and women. Without the oxidative stress and with enough energy, testosterone that drives libido is kept at normal levels in both men and women. Women may also be more fertile when they include pomegranates in their diet.
Two cups of pomegranate seeds, the recommended daily serving, is a refreshing snack for any time of the day. A cup holding approximately 348 grams can give you as much as 60% the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin C, 72% of Vitamin K, 32% of folates, and 24% of potassium.
It is so packed with nutrients that it has attained superfood status. Just 100 grams of pomegranate seeds can provide you the following nutrients:
- 83 Kcal of energy
- 18.70 grams of carbohydrates
- 1.67 grams of protein
- 1.17 gram of total fat
- 4 grams of dietary fiber
- 38 µg of folates
- 0.293 mg of niacin
- 0.135 mg of pantothenic acid
- 0.075 mg of pyridoxine
- 0.053 mg of riboflavin
- 0.067 mg of thiamin
- 10.2 mg of Vitamin C
- 0.60 mg of Vitamin E
- 16.4 µg of Vitamin K
- 3 mg of sodium
- 236 mg of potassium
- 10 mg of calcium
- 0.158 mg of copper
- 0.30 mg of iron
- 12 mg of magnesium
- 0.119 mg of manganese
- 36 mg of phosphorus
- 0.5 µg of selenium
- 0.35 mg of zinc
Include Pomegranate in Your Diet
It’s not hard to fall in love with the tangy seeds of the pomegranate. Some people have no problem eating almost half of the fruit or even a whole pomegranate!
There are several ways that pomegranates can be included in your daily diet:
- Add the seeds to spicy salsas.
- Use pomegranate juice to glaze meat.
- Sprinkle them on top of a vegetarian pizza or dish.
- Sprinkle seeds on top of hearty braised meat dishes.
- Mix seeds with wine or other cocktails.
- Steep tea from powdered pomegranate rind.
- Add the seeds to milky and creamy desserts such as panna cotta.
- Make pomegranate water by soaking the seeds.
- The seeds can be sprinkled on top of cakes and ice cream.
- The seeds can also be added to smoothies or chia seed puddings.
- Drink pomegranate juice as is or mix it with other fruit juices.
- The seeds can be sprinkled on salads to add acidity and some sweetness.
- Create pomegranate molasses by taking the syrup or juice and simmering it until it forms a heavier and stickier texture. Add lime juice while you simmer to add more tang.
- Pomegranates go well with citrus fruits. You can make a citrus salad, citrus juice, or citrus popsicle with pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate lemonade is very delicious.
- Grenadine is made from pomegranates and can be added to a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Pomegranates are a delicious snack packed with beneficial nutrients. With a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can reap all the benefits that pomegranates can offer. It can give you the necessary calories to help keep your energy up in an active day and can even help your body recover after an intense period of exercise.
Pomegranates are rich in polyphenols and vitamins that keep the immune system in top shape to fight against common illnesses and guard against diseases that may come with age. It has shown some evidence in providing anti-inflammatory properties especially in the gut and it can also help in the fight against harmful microbes, making it a great addition to your diet.