Pomegranate Benefits and Uses: Cultivated since ancient times, the pomegranate fruit has played a versatile role in history – from Greek lore to medieval wars. In ancient mythology even, Greeks used the tale of Hades, Persephone, and pomegranate seeds to explain the change in seasons.
After being kidnapped by Hades, the god of the Underworld, Persephone was tricked into eating 6 pomegranate seeds and doomed to spend 6 months of the year trapped in the Underworld. During those 6 months without her, Persephone’s mother Demeter, the goddess of fertility, mourned up in the world above. Hence, the human understanding of crops flourishing and growing during the spring and summer months, and then withering and dying during the fall and winter months, was born.
This ever-present symbol of fertility, rebirth and life, the pomegranate fruit has not surprisingly become a real-world catalyst for healing as well. From your nervous system to your heart, muscles and brain, there is virtually no part of your body that the superfood pomegranate doesn’t benefit.
13 Ways Pomegranate Makes You Healthier
1. Promotes Blood Circulation
Pomegranate juice is one of those vibrant, nutrient-rich drinks that lower blood pressure. When your body has an abundance of ACE (angiotensin-converting-enzyme), it can cause blood vessels to constrict and raise your blood pressure dangerously high. Pomegranate juice acts as a natural ACE-inhibitor as well as helps fight the buildup of plaque and cholesterol on artery walls that can inhibit proper blood circulation in your body.
2. Prevents Anaemia
Anaemia, or lack or iron in the blood, can result in a reduction in red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen in your blood. Anaemia can cause dizziness, faintness, exhaustion, and loss of hearing. Drinking or eating pomegranate delivers iron to your bloodstream (along with other vitamins and minerals like calcium and potassium), and increases hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries the oxygen.
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3. Reduces Cancer Risk
Pomegranate is rich with antioxidants including punicalagins that help eliminate free radicals from the body, protect cells, and reduce inflammation. In fact, pomegranate has three times as many antioxidants as in red wine or green tea. Several preliminary studies have shown specifically that pomegranate juice may stop the growth of prostate cancer cells and reduce inflammation and tumor growth associated with breast and colon cancer.
4. Protects Against Memory Loss
The inherent polyphenols contained in the pomegranate fruit have been shown in a recent study with animals to stave off neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. As well, older adults who complained of memory loss experienced neuroprotective results after drinking pomegranate juice that improved memory and increased memory-task related brain activation.
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5. Aids in Digestion
Having stomach troubles or diarrhea? When ingested, pomegranate juice induces the body to release enzymes that aid in digestion and fights dysentery; and it contains a hefty amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that can encourage healthy bowel movements. Additional concentrations of folate found in pomegranate fuel a healthy metabolism too.
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6. Lowers Cholesterol
The MayoClinic shares that a few small studies have illustrated the effects pomegranate juice has on both lowering and slowing the buildup of cholesterol in arteries of people at risk for heart disease. It’s higher than the average concentration of polyphenol (a type of antioxidant) that has been shown to lower “LDL” or bad cholesterol.
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7. Strengthens Muscles
One pomegranate contains many muscle-strengthening properties like protein (5 grams of protein per fruit),vitamins and minerals crucial for muscular performance and efficiency. A study found that people who took vitamin E and C supplements reaped far greater muscle mass from resistance training than people who did not. One pomegranate provides your body with 30% of your daily value of vitamin C, and also delivers potassium to the body which aids in blood flow and muscle contraction.
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8. Fights Dental Plaque
Drinking juice can be good for the teeth? When it comes to pomegranate juice, indeed! Infections, cavities, tooth plaque and diseases like gingivitis that begin with microbes in the mouth can be prevented in part by the antiviral and antibacterial properties pomegranate juice can offer.
9. Combats Arthritis
Joint pain, osteoarthritis, and cartilage damage are painful reminders of the wear and tear on the body as you age. Pomegranate’s makeup of flavonols, phytochemical compounds, and antioxidants can help block the inflammation that causes those ailments as well as reduce the risk of falls and pain associated with them.
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10. Boosts Immunity
With loads of vitamins C, E and K, and B-complex vitamins, 1 serving of pomegranate juice packs a healthy punch that helps you fight off colds and illnesses. Also, its natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties help stave off viruses and infections.
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11. Helps Sex Life
Studies in both animals and men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction have shown improvement after ingesting pomegranate juice, likely due to the presence of several types of antioxidants found in the fruit. The research in Scotland and Turkey showed increased levels of testosterone and improved quality of sperm as effects of drinking pomegranate juice.
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12. Improves Exercise Performance
Naturally occurring dietary nitrates in pomegranate extract boost blood flow during exercise and can prolong endurance and exercise performance. How exactly? Nitrates are a nitrogen-oxygen compound that gets converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a short-lived gas made up of molecules that help blood vessels and arteries relax, letting blood flow more freely.
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13. Protects Skin
Pomegranate’s sun protective compounds and antioxidants help prevent damage to the skin from the sun as well as prevent occurrences of skin cancer. Additionally, pomegranate is rich with copper and zinc, minerals that aid in skin cell building and wound healing, as well as vitamin E, a vital building block of healthy and nourished skin.
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Eating pomegranate fruit, taking the extract, or drinking pomegranate juice doesn’t come without its own risks however. It is known to negatively interact with some prescription medicines, like those that treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure. So talk with your doctor before you start drinking pomegranate juice regularly. Also, its high sugar content (31.5 grams per 8 ounces) could cause spikes in blood sugar if not monitored, which can appear risky if you have diabetes.