There is a lot built into the classic pomegranate. First off, the fruit has been around for thousands of years and has been prized by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese, among others. Something of a mystical fruit, it has been associated with marriage and fertility, along with sacrifice, death and rebirth. Jewish folklore even claimed that a pomegranate has 613 seeds—one for each of the Bible’s 613 laws. Medieval Christians, in turn, linked the pomegranate’s bloody red juice with virginity and sacrifice. Even its very name is a mouthful and derives from the medieval Latin words pōmum for apples and grānātum for seeded. Okay, today advocates largely have a different take on pomegranates—and a health-centric one at that, thanks largely to the marketing of pomegranate juice over the last decade and the growing awareness that this fruit offers a powerful health punch. Exactly what’s inside? Read on.
None other than the United States Department of Agriculture reports that pomegranates are bursting with nutrients. Specifically, a 100-gram serving of raw pomegranate has 83 calories, 1.67 grams of protein, 1.17 grams of total fat, 18.7 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of total dietary fiber, 13.7 grams of sugar, 10 milligrams of calcium, 0.3 milligrams of iron, 12 milligrams of magnesium, 36 milligrams of phosphorus and 10.2 milligrams of vitamin C. They also contain no cholesterol. Also, having 236 milligrams of potassium and only 3 milligrams of sodium makes them a dietary plus
Fights Aging & Diseases
Pomegranates are great at helping to protect cells from being damaged by free radicals because they are loaded with antioxidants. This goes a long way in the battle against aging and various diseases. Rich in antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds, they are specifically loaded with punicalagin, anthocyanins and hydrolyzable tannins. Commercial pomegranate juice has about three times the antioxidants of an equivalent volume of red wine and green tea—both of which are known for their antioxidant power.
This fruit also has substantial anticancer properties due to its high level of antioxidants. Used in various forms, including seed extract, essential oils and whole fruit extract for hundreds of years. Numerous studies have reported that pomegranate can fight against various cancers, including breast, prostate, skin, lung, colon, ovaries cervix, esophagus, intestine, pancreas, bladder, liver, leukemia, melanoma and glioblastoma. Its cancer-fighting ability is linked to its phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids.
The good news is that pomegranate juice’s high potassium and low sodium content can help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The bad news is that initial research indicates the benefits are somewhat temporary. After two months, blood pressure tends to return to its originally elevated levels.
Pomegranate’s antioxidant, punicalagin, affects glucose absorption, allowing patients to lower their drug dosages and have fewer side effects. The fruit can also help prevent Type II diabetes by blocking the oxidative stress that results in high blood sugar.
In one form or another, pomegranates have been used for millenniums to fight infections. The recent rise in antibiotic-resistant microorganisms has put increased focus on the fruit’s antimicrobial power. The benefit is the result of its supply of ellagitannins and other secondary polyphenolic compounds.
Despite all its benefits, pomegranates come with a few caveats. They may aggravate gastric sensitivity. In addition, they do have high sugar and carbohydrates. Pomegranates may also thwart enzymes like CYP3A4 and consequently may interfere with certain drugs. This makes it essential for those taking certain prescriptions to speak with a physician before consuming regular quantities of the fruit or its juice.
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