Pomegranates are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. One half cup of pomegranate arils has about 70 calories, 12 g sugar, 4 g fiber, 2 g protein, and 1 g fat [i]. Pomegranates contain compounds called polyphenols, which offer anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic effects. Specifically, they are a rich source of compounds called anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and hydrolysable tannins, boosting pomegranate juice to have an even higher antioxidant potential than red wine and green tea [ii].
One literature review on the pomegranate and inflammation found promising health benefits related to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease, but concluded that more research is needed on the pomegranate and chronic inflammatory disease [iii].
Another review conducted quantitative data synthesis from 8 randomized controlled trials on the pomegranate and blood pressure. The authors found significant decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after pomegranate juice consumption. Pomegranate juice reduced systolic blood pressure independent of duration (greater than or less than 12 weeks) and amount consumed (greater than or less than 240 mL). Amount consumed (greater than 240 mL) showed a borderline significant effect in decreasing diastolic blood pressure [iv].
Pomegranate juice, extract, and oils have shown anti-proliferative, anti-metastatic, and anti-invasive effects in cancer cells in vitro and in vivo animal and human clinical trials. In this way, pomegranate is promising as a chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent in breast, colon, lung, prostate, and skin cancers. However, more clinical trials are needed to validate and formulate pomegranate for dietary and pharmacological intervention therapy for cancers [v, vi].
Ways to Eat
Combine pomegranate arils, nuts, and seeds in oatmeal or Greek yogurt for a spark of sweetness and texture. Mix pomegranates in with chickpeas, soybeans, quinoa, and cooked vegetables for a nutrient-dense plant-based bowl. Use these sweet arils to make a trail mix, or sprinkle them on a salad for a boost of polyphenols. Lastly, look out for our recipe of the month featuring the pomegranate, coming next week!
[i] Pomegranates, raw. Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2005/2.
[ii] Zarfeshany A, Asgary S, & Javanmard SH. (2014). Potent health effects of pomengranate. Adv Biomed Res, 25(3):100. Doi: 10.4103/2277-9175.129371. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007340/
[iii] Danesi F & Ferguson LR. (2017). Could pomegranate juice help in the control of inflammatory diseases? Nutrients, 9(9):958. Doi: 10.3390/nu9090958. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28867799
[iv] Sahebkar A, Ferri C, Giorgini P, Bo S, Nachtigal P, & Grassi D. (2017). Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacological Research, 115:149-161. Doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2016.11.018. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28867799
[v] Panth N, Manandhar B, & Paudel KR. (2017). Anticancer activity of punica granatum (pomegranate): a review. Phytother Res, 31(4):568-578. Doi: 10.1002/ptr.5784. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28185340
[vi] Sharma P, McClees SF, & Afaq F. (2017). Pomegranate for prevention and treatment of cancer: an update. Molecules, 22(1):177. Doi: 10.3390/molecules22010177. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28125044