The pomegranate is an ancient fruit that has been eaten for thousands of years. Originally from Persia, the pomegranate spread throughout the Mediterranean area in ancient times. Today it is widely cultivated for its beauty as an ornamental shrub and especially for its fruit. The fruit has a tough outer layer and a large center of juicy seeds. Only the seeds and juice from the seeds are edible and are extremely nutritious.
High in antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C, low in calories, and a great source of fiber, pomegranates have been called a super food. It provides 40% of our daily requirement of vitamin C. “According to a 2008 study, which compared the potency of 10 different polyphenol-rich beverages, pomegranate juice scored top billing as the most healthful of them all. Its potency was found to be at least 20 percent greater than any of the other beverages tested, beating out Concord grape juice, acai, and blueberry juice —three well-known sources of potent antioxidants. It beat them primarily because it contains the most of every type of antioxidant.”
Research has shown that drinking one ounce of pomegranate juice a day for a year reversed plaque build-up in veins. “Not only did study participants’ have a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque but blood pressure was lowered by over 12 percent. Just as astounding, participants who did not take the pomegranate juice saw their atherosclerotic plaque increase by 9 percent. ”
Studies have been conducted on the effect of pomegranates on various types of cancer cells. Pomegranate has inhibited cell reproduction in one study and pomegranate extract killed breast cancer cells in another. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center:
“In test tubes, pomegranate extracts made from juice, rind, and oil slow down the reproduction of cancer cells and may hasten their death. Some extracts also help reduce blood supply to tumors, starving them and making them smaller. Most studies have focused on breast and prostate cancer cells. In one other study, pomegranate juice extract given to mice slowed down the growth of lung tumors. However, most of these studies have been in test tubes or in animals, not humans.
In one human study, men who had surgery or radiation for prostate cancer lengthened the amount of time it took for their PSA levels to double by drinking 8 oz. of pomegranate juice each day. Men whose PSA levels double in a short period of time are more at risk for death from prostate cancer. Those who drank pomegranate juice increased the time it took for their PSA levels to double from about 15 months to 54 months, a significant increase.”
Expect to see more research in these areas as well as pomegranate effects on arthritis and heart disease.
Please note, that if you are being treated for cancer or other serious diseases, please check with your physician for any contraindications with your medications before taking pomegranate or any supplement. If you are taking cholesterol-reducing medication, check with your doctor and/or pharmacist before drinking pomegranate juice.
Try adding pomegranate to your favorite salad. It works well with zucchini noodle vegetable salad with mozarella.
For more information, see:
FAQ, Pomegranate Council
Pomegranates and Health, Pomegranate Council
Pomegranate, University of Maryland Medical Center
What Are Pomegranates Good For?, Dr. Mercola