The pomegranate is one of the world’s ancient fruits believed to be native from Iran to Northern India. All parts of the tree including bark, flowers, leaves and fruit have been used in traditional medicine in many different cultures. The fruit juice and pomegranate extracts are prescribed by many complementary health practitioners as a functional food for preventative, cardiovascular conditions.
Pomegranate Health Benefits
Pomegranate is known to contain polyphenols, which is thought to be responsible for many of its health benefits including anti-tumoral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. A large body of research suggests that the juice and extracts may also promote heart health.
Potential anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties
Clinical studies show that daily consumption of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of cancer . Certain types of bioactive compounds found in plants have been shown to help slow down the progress of cancer . Pomegranate juice and seed oil have a unique blend of tannins and anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants and may be responsible for slowing down the progression of cancer (breast, skin, colon and prostate cancer) [2, 3, 4]. Although the research seems promising, we need more research into synergistic behaviour of plant compounds on this disease.
A few studies have indicated the dried pomegranate powder may have anti-microbial and anti-fungal effect particularly against Candida albicans and Candida krusei. It is proposed that the phytochemicals have the ability to damage and rupture the walls of yeast cells. [5, 6]. Other studies have shown that the dried peel might be used as an anti-bacterial agent in controlling bacterial infections and therefore help with controlling infections of the gum such as gingivitis and periodontitis [ 7, 8, 9].
Pomegranate for heart health
There has been a great interest in functional food and diets for heart health over the years, mainly as a preventative measure and/or as an adjunct to statin therapy. In Australia, heart disease can affect around one in twenty (1.2 million) people and the proportion increases with age .
Clinical studies have shown an impressive body of work, which indicate that pomegranate products may have vascular-protective effects . A unique combination of the phytochemicals in pomegranate juice and peel have been shown to break down harmful lipids (LDL oxidisation) and reduce macrophage foam cells formation, all of which are involved in plaque formation or atherosclerosis. There is also a substantial body of research which indicates that the consumption of pomegranate juice and seed oil may reduce blood pressure [13, 14, 15, 16].
How to eat for heart health
Pomegranates can be included in a heart-healthy Mediterranean style diet. This can also include olive oil, dark berries, whole grains, lean meat, oily fish and a colourful assortment of vegetables.
The tiny, jewel-like, ruby coloured seeds can be eaten by the handful or make a beautiful garnish for sweet and savoury dishes. The seeds can be pressed for juice; however, 1 cup of juice can contain up to 31 grams of sugar, which might be an issue if you are diabetic. ½ a pomegranate, whole fruit will contain approximately 10 grams of sugar and also contains the added benefit of fibre.
For consumers who are trying to cut down on their sugar intake. Supplements are available in dry powder form or formulas. Pomegranate Plus by Pure Encapsulations is formulated with pomegranate fruit extract, acai, wild blueberry and cranberry and had higher antioxidant activity than green tea, grapeseed extract, goji and resveratrol.
How to remove seeds without the mess
To remove seeds, score the peel around the fruit with a sharp knife, then score in quarters from top to bottom. Gently pull sections apart, while holding fruit in a bowl of water. Remove membrane and drain. Seeds can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or kept frozen.
- Sharma P, McClees SF, Afaq F. Pomegranate for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer: An Update. Molecules[internet]. 2017 [cited 2020 Apr 12]; 22:177. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/22/1/177
- Zarfeshany A, Asgary S, Javanmard SH. Potent health effects of pomegranate. Adv Biomed Res. [internet]. 2014 [cited 2020 Apr 12]; 3:100. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007340/
3. Chaves, F. Machado, Pavan, I. Carolina Betim, da Silva, L. Guilherme Salvino, de Freitas, L. Broglio, Rostagno, M. Ariel, Antunes, A. Elisabete Costa, Bezerra, R. Maria Neves, & Simabuco, F. Moreira. Pomegranate Juice and Peel Extracts are Able to Inhibit Proliferation, Migration and Colony Formation of Prostate Cancer Cell Lines and Modulate the Akt/mTOR/S6K Signaling Pathway. Plant foods for human nutrition, [internet]. 2020 [cited 2020 Apr 10]; 75:54-62. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/6857306
4 Livingstone TL, Beasy G, Mills RD, Plumb J, Needs PW, Mithen R, et al. Plant Bioactives and the Prevention of Prostate Cancer: Evidence from Human Studies. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Sep 18 [cited 2020 Apr];11(9):2245. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/9/2245
5. Da Silva PM, de Moura MC, Gomes FS, da Silva Trentin D, Silva de Oliveira AP, de Mello GSV, et al. PgTeL, the lectin found in Punica granatum juice, is an antifungal agent against Candida albicans and Candida krusei. Int J Biol Macromol [Internet]. 2018;108:391–400. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29225175
6. Hofling JF, Anibal PC, Obando-Pereda GA, Peixoto IA, Furletti V, Foglio MA, et al. Antimicrobial potential of some plant extracts against Candida species. Brazilian J Biol [Internet]. 2010 [cited Apr 2020];1065–8. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21180915
7. Abdollahzadeh S, Mashouf R, Mortazavi H, Moghaddam M, Roozbahani N, Vahedi M. Antibacterial and antifungal activities of punica granatum peel extracts against oral pathogens. J Dent (Tehran) [Internet]. 2011;8(1):1–6. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21998800%0Ahttp://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=PMC3184731
8. Bhadbhade SJ, Acharya AB, Rodrigues SV, Thakur SL. The antiplaque efficacy of pomegranate mouthrinse. Quintessence Int. [internet] 2011[cited 2020 Apr 20]; 42:29–36. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21206931
9. Menezes SM, Cordeiro LN, Viana GS. Punica granatum(pomegranate) extract is active against dental plaque. J Herb Pharmacother. [internet]. 2006 [cited 2020 Apr 7]; 6:79–92. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17182487
10. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Heart, Stroke and vascular Disease. Commonwealth of Australia [internet]. 2018 [cited May 2020]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4364.0.55.001~2017-18~Main%20Features~Heart,%20stroke%20and%20vascular%20disease~55
11. Wang D, özen C, Abu-Reidah IM, Chigurupati S, Patra JK, Horbanczuk JO, et al. Vasculoprotective effects of pomegranate (Punica granatum L.). Front Pharmacol. [internet] 2018 [cited 2020 Apr 10]; 9(MAY):1–15. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5977444/
12. Sahebkar A, Ferri C, Giorgini P, Bo S, Nactigal P, Grassi D. Effects of pomegranate juice on blood pressure: A systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pharmacological research [internet] 2017 [cited 2020 Apr 10]; 1(15):149-161. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043661816307848
13. Lynn, A., Hamadeh, H., Leung, W.C. et al.Effects of Pomegranate Juice Supplementation on Pulse Wave Velocity and Blood Pressure in Healthy Young and Middle-aged Men and Women. Plant Foods Hum Nutr [internet] 2012 [cited 2020 Apr 10]; 67:309–314. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22648092
15. Aviram M, Dornfeld L, Rosenblat M, Volkova N, Kaplan M, Coleman R, Hayek T, Presser D, Fuhrman B. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E–deficient mice, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [internet] 2000 [cited 2020 Apr 9]; 71( 5): 1062–1076, Available from: https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/71.5.1062
16. Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, Nitecki S, Hoffman A, Dornfeld L, et al. Corrigendum to “Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation”. Clin. Nutr. [internet] 2004 [cited 2020 Apr 4]; 23:423-433. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0261561403002139