Pomegranate is surrounded by thick skin which makes it difficult to eat. The watery and tasty arils inside the thick skin are the most delicious part of Pomegranate. However, the entire seed can be consumed. Pomegranates are mostly consumed raw. They are also used in cooking, baking, juices, smoothies and alcoholic beverages, such as martinis and wine. Pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink across globe. Pomegranate juice is not only cool and refreshing, but it also has high medicinal value and health benefits. Pomegranate juice is used to make sauce or syrup and adds sweet and sour taste to food along with rich colour. Pomogranate arils are often used in garnishing.
Anardana or Seeds of the wild pomegranate variety known as daru from the Himalayas are used as a spice in Indian and Pakistani cuisine and also act as a substitute for pomegranate syrup in Persian cuisine. Anardana are used as an acidic agent for chutney and curry preparation. Dried pomegranate arils which contain residual aril water along with seed are used in some desserts.
Not only the Pomegranate fruit, but its leaf, fruit rind, seeds, dried bark, stem and root provide a host of health benefits. Truly it is nature’s power fruit. Scientific research has been confirming health benefits of pomegranate.
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Nutritional value of Pomegranate
100 gram of pomegranate provides around 85 calories and one sixth of daily dietary fiber requirement, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Folate. It is good source of Potassium, copper, manganese and zinc.
The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds. Around 122 phytochemicals have been already identified in the pomegranate. Pomegranate is loaded with tannins, anthocyanins, polyphenolsand antioxidant vitamins. It is said to be the powerhouse of health.
Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranates are known mostly for curing the problems related to heart and for maintaining effective and healthy blood circulation. Other health benefits include cure of stomach disorders, cancer, dental care, osteoarthritis, anaemia and diabetes. Some of the health benefits of pomegranate are listed below:
Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants. They play an important role in removal of free radicals from body and providing health benefits including offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries. Current focus of antioxidant properties of pomegranate has been on various polyphenols present in pomegranate.
Pomegranate also reduces the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease among the older generation. It helps to control aging problems like wrinkles and thus, facilitates youthful and glowing skin.
Research has shown that various components of pomegranate are useful in treatment and prevention of cancer. Pomegranate extract has been shown to inhibit the growth of human prostate cancer cells cultured in laboratory dishes, as well as slow prostate cancer growth in mice. In a study showed that consumption of pomegranate juice helped reduce need for chemotherapy or hormone therapy in men with prostrate cancer.
Other research showed that there was less incidence of tumor in mice treated with pomegranate extract compared to others. Studies are still undergoing on anti skin tumor benefits of pomegranate fruit. Research is being done on use of pomegranate seed oil against skin cancer, colon cancer and breast cancer. Studies show that pomegranate juice destroys breast cancer cells and leaves the healthy cells alone.
Pomegranates due to its antioxidant properties are considered good for heart. Human research has shown pomegranate to be effective in reducing several heart risk factors. Recent medical research study on heart patients with severe heart artery blockages showed that consumption of pomegranate juice reduced blood pressure and blockages.
Punicalagins is known antioxidant compound found in pomegranate which has shown health benefits for heart and blood vessels. They not only lower cholesterol, but also lower blood pressure and increase the speed at which heart blockages melt away.
In other studies, potent antioxidant compounds found in pomegranates have shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes. Pomegranates help prevent plaque from building up in arteries and reverse previous plaque buildup. It is known to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol). Regular intake of pomegranate juice reduces risk of coronary diseases in diabetic patient.
Research has shown that pomegranate fruit extract can block enzymes that contribute to cartilage degradation in osteoarthritis, and has opened avenues for possible application for this disorder. Pomegranates also have an anti-inflammatory effect and considered beneficial for individuals with arthritis.
Pomegranate reduces the possibility of having premature babies. It is considered beneficial for expected mothers and helps avoiding low weight babies birth. Pomegranate helps woman overcome mood swings and depression during menopause period.
The Journal of Urology suggests that pomegranate juice can also be very helpful in curing problems of erectile dysfunctions. Pomegranate juice contains phytochemical compounds that stimulate serotonin and estrogen receptors, improving symptoms of depression and increasing bone mass in lab animals
Pomegranates peel, bark and leaves are effective on stomach disorders, diarrhea and other gastro intestinal problems. Drinking tea made from pomegranate leaves is considered good for digestive health. Pomegranate juice is also considered good on dysentery and cholera.
Pomegranate juice has antimicrobial properties and helps reduce the effects of dental plaque. Pomegranate peel is used in manufacture of tooth power and tooth paste.
Other benefits as seen in animal research
- reduced weight and caloric intake
- antioxidant activity of pomegranates might help prevent arteriogenic erectile dysfunction
- pomegranate appears to have gastroprotective effects and pomegranate extract reduces gastric ulceration due to aspirin and alcohol; and may help enhance immunity
Health benefits of other parts of pomegranate
Pomegranate Peels are used in manufacture of tooth powders, toothpastes, facial care products, coughing remedies and used as cow feed supplement. Rind and flowers are often used to reduce oral and throat inflammation and used in manufacture of textile dyes. Buds have been used for treatment of Bronchitis. Trunk Bark is source of tannin which is used in curing of leather and making insecticides. Alkaloid in pomegranate bark mainly pellatrierine is helpful in getting rid of helminthes an intestinal parasite worms. Pomegranate seeds oil is used in cosmetics and moisturizing body lotions. It is considered having hormone producing effect and stimulates secretion of estrogen hormone. It is also used to prepare cosmetics and moisturizing body lotion.
Thus, the health benefits of pomegranates are uncountable and profitable. That is the reason why Pomegranate Extract is commercially promoted as Dietary Supplement.