If you are looking for a food rich with antioxidants, then pomegranate could be it. For centuries, pomegranates have been regarded as a treasure among fruits. In addition to being a high source of fiber, pomegranate is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, E, B5, B3, iron, folic acid, potassium, and antioxidant polyphenols.
Pomegranate or Punica granatum originated in the Middle East, but is now grown throughout the world. The fruit has a tough peel, and sweet juicy pulp that contains many seeds. In ancient times, the Babylonians would chew the seeds before battle, believing it would make them invincible.
Because of it being a nutrient powerhouse, the pomegranate fruit offers numerous health benefits. It has become a very popular superfruit in recent years due to its high antioxidant capacity, plus its rich, tart flavor. More and more people are realizing the multiple benefits of including pomegranates as part of their healthy diets. These health benefits can be given as follows:
Fights cancer:Pomegranate juice has excellent antioxidant properties; three times more antioxidants per 100 ml than does red wine or green tea. As a result of this high antioxidant content, it can help you fight breast and prostate cancer. A study done on 48 men who had surgery or radiation therapy to treat localized prostate cancer (prostate cancer that hasn't spread) showed that drinking 8 ounces (around 235 ml) of pomegranate juice daily may slow the prostate cancer growth. As for breast cancer, a new study indicate that eating pomegranates or drinking pomegranate juice may help prevent and slow the growth of some types of breast cancer. The study shows that ellagitannins - a group of phytochemicals found in abundance in pomegranates - inhibit the growth of estrogen-responsive breast cancer. Researchers say the ellagitannins in pomegranates work by inhibiting aromatase, which is a key enzyme used by the body to make estrogen and plays a key role in breast cancer growth.
Normalize blood pressure: Pomegranate juice has been shown to work well as a blood thinner. As a result, it is an excellent agent for promoting blood flow to the heart. One study showed that drinking 1.7 ounces (50 ml) of pomegranate juice per day lowered systolic blood pressure (the higher number in your blood pressure reading) by as much as 5 percent.
Beneficial for the heart: Pomegranate and its juice is high in antioxidant content which, researchers found, not only helps to prevent hardening of the arteries (build up of plaque in the walls of arteries, known medically as atherosclerosis), but it may also reverse the progression of this disease. Hardening of the arteries can lead to decreased blood flow that can cause heart attacks and strokes. These beneficial effects also extends to people with diabetes, who have increased risk for atherosclerosis. A new preliminary study shows that people with diabetes who drank pomegranate juice for three months had a lower risk of atherosclerosis.
Protects cartilage: According to a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine study published in the September 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, pomegranate fruit extract tends to act as an inhibitor on enzymes responsible for damaging cartilage (tough but flexible tissue that covers the ends of your bones at a joint). Thus it is a must for people suffering from osteoarthritis. The fruit also contains anti-inflammatory qualities which also help during the treatment of this disease.
Healthy teeth: Research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may be a natural way to prevent dental plaque because it possess antibacterial properties. This helps to decrease the chances of bad breath and gum disease.
Effective against impotency: A study published in the journal Impotence Research indicates that pomegranate juice may be effective in improving blood flow throughout the body, a benefit of special importance to men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). It does this by stimulating the production of nitric oxide, a chemical which "relaxes" blood vessel cells.
Prevents Alzheimer's disease: According to a animal study published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, pomegranate juice may prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. As part of the study, mice that were bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease accumulated significantly less amyloid plaque and performed better on mental tasks than control mice. Researchers from Loma Linda University in California believe that Alzheimer's may be caused by the buildup of plaque from deposits associated with brain cell death due to oxidation, called beta-amyloid deposits. Pomegranate juice, which is high in antioxidant polyphenols, may offer protection against the oxidative stress that causes beta-amyloid deposits.
Fight cold and flu: The high amount of vitamin C content helps to fight against flu and cold symptoms. It you are down with flu, simply drink 1 to 2 glasses of diluted Pomegranate juice.
PMS problems: Pomegranate is believed to help balance the estrogen level in women. Therefore, it is advisable for women to add it to their diet as it can help combat PMS and menopausal problems.
In Ayurveda system of medicine, pomegranate has been extensively used as a source of traditional remedies for thousands of years. The seeds and juice of pomegranate are considered a tonic for the heart and throat, and a healthful counterbalance to a diet high in sweet-fatty components. The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree is used as a traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. Pomegranate juice of specific fruit strains is also used as eyedrops as it is believed to slow the development of cataracts.
You can add Pomegranate to your diet in form of freshly eaten fruit, in form of juice or by sprinkling pomegranate seeds on salads, used as garnishes for contemporary dishes, smoothies, cocktails and deserts. It is a delicious fruit, and with all the health benefits it provides, pomegranate should be eaten often.