Pomegranate seeds, the nutritious interior of the pomegranates are small ruby crimson blasts of both tart and sweet deliciousness that carry a major health punch.
Pomegranate seeds, which are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, have been shown in tests to aid decrease inflammation, limiting cancer cell development, fighting infections, and improving cognitive function. They’re also tasty, healthy, and simple to include in a variety of cuisines.
Do you still desire additional reasons to try this wonderful ingredient? Continue reading to learn all you must know concerning pomegranate seeds and the reason they should be on your subsequent shopping list.
What Are Pomegranate Seeds?
Pomegranate seeds come from pomegranates (Punica granatum), which are the product of a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree. The name for the pomegranate fruit is derived from Latin and literally means “seeded apple.” Pomegranates are also sometimes called Chinese apples.
The pomegranate, native to Iran and neighboring countries, is cultivated in warmer regions of North and South America. Its fruit, a large orange with smooth skin, contains hundreds of arils, which are edible seeds. Its seeds are eaten raw or processed into juice, and they are used to make pomegranate seed oil, which has numerous health benefits. White seeds offer a sweeter, less tart flavor, while the creamy white pithy part surrounding the seeds is bitter. The juice of its seeds is the source of grenadine syrup, used in Shirley Temple and other flavorings and liqueurs.
Pomegranate seeds are a great source of several nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Plus, they are also low in calories yet high in heart-healthy fiber.
A half-cup serving (about 87 grams) of pomegranate provides approximately the following nutrients:
- 72.2 calories
- 16.3 grams carbohydrates
- 1.5 grams protein
- 1 gram fat
- 3.5 grams fiber
- 14.3 micrograms of vitamin K (18 percent DV)
- 8.9 milligrams of vitamin C (15 percent DV)
- 33.1 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams copper (7 percent DV)
- 205 milligrams potassium (6 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams of manganese (5 percent DV)
1. Natural Aphrodisiac
In many cultures, pomegranates have been associated with fertility and abundance because of their many seeds. In recent years, the fruit has been studied for its libido-boosting effects as well.
A study by Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh found that consumption of pure pomegranate juice increased salivary testosterone levels in participants by an average of 24 percent, which can lead to heightened mood and increased sexual desire.
Concerns about erectile dysfunction? Pomegranate juice has also been shown to help increase blood flow and erectile response in animal models. Although more research is needed in humans, it may also offer a similar set of benefits for those affected by sexual dysfunction as well.
2. Reduce Arthritis and Joint Pain
Arthritis is a common condition causing joint inflammation, causing pain and stiffness. Pomegranates, rich in flavonols, can help relieve arthritis symptoms. Animal models show that pomegranate seed extract reduces collagen-induced arthritis and joint inflammation. Consult a doctor before adding pomegranate products to daily routines.
3. Help Fight Cancer
When it comes to cancer, more and more research shows that pomegranate seeds may act as a potent cancer-fighting food.
Pomegranate extracts have been found to inhibit breast cancer cell growth and spread, while pomegranate seed oil contains punicic acid, an omega-5 fatty acid. Drinking its juice may slow prostate cancer growth, the leading cancer for men in the U.S. Studies show that pomegranate juice extract significantly slows PSA levels in recurrent prostate cancer patients. Certain compounds in pomegranate juice have strong antitumorigenic effects and can slow prostate cancer cell growth in the laboratory.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
The juice of pomegranate seeds contains several different types of antioxidants and polyphenols that can promote heart health by lowering blood pressure levels.
A 2013 study reported that consumption of pomegranate juice could decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively, in those with high blood pressure. Another study published in Phytotherapy Research also concluded that pomegranate juice could be beneficial for those with high blood pressure, as it was able to lower blood pressure levels after just two weeks of daily intake.
5. Fight Bacterial Infections
Pomegranate extracts have been used since ancient times to treat several conditions, including parasitic and microbial infections, diarrhea, ulcers, canker sores, hemorrhages, and respiratory complications.
Not surprisingly, pomegranates have also been shown to stimulate the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which could enhance their ability to fight bacterial infections, according to research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
6. Improve Heart Health
The juice made from pomegranate seeds contains antioxidants at higher levels than many other fruit juices, which could help block the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries of those at risk of heart disease.
Research published in Clinical Nutrition studied the effects of pomegranate juice in people with carotid artery stenosis. This is a narrowing of either of the two key arteries located in the front of the neck through which blood from the heart goes to the brain.
After one year, the juice was effective at lowering blood pressure levels by over 12 percent and reducing atherosclerotic plaque by a whopping 30 percent. Conversely, those who did not drink the juice actually experienced a 9 percent increase in atherosclerotic plaque, suggesting that pomegranates could potentially offer protection against heart disease.
7. Boost Memory
Studies have reported that polyphenols, which are found abundantly in pomegranate seeds and their juice, could significantly enhance cognitive function. In fact, one study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that pomegranate polyphenols could provide long-lasting protection from memory dysfunction caused by heart surgery.
Another study had elderly individuals with memory problems drink eight ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for four weeks. Compared to the control group, those who drank pomegranate juice had significantly improved markers of verbal and visual memory.
In addition, an animal model conducted by the Department of Psychology at Loma Linda University noted that incorporating pomegranates into your diet could help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, showcasing the fruit’s ability as a potential Alzheimer’s natural treatment.
How to Open
When it comes to how to remove pomegranate seeds, it does take a bit of work. Some might describe the effort as tedious, but once you get the hang of how to do it, the payoff really is worth it.
Plus, a lot of companies have started offering pomegranate seeds solo in a ready-to-eat state so there are no excuses for not incorporating these little gems into your diet regularly!
If you want the freshest seeds possible, then definitely opt to obtain them from the fruit itself. Wondering where to buy fresh pomegranates? These tasty fruits can typically be found in your local grocery store between September and January.
When choosing a pomegranate, you want to make sure that you pick one that feels heavy and has leathery skin that’s firm and taut with no soft spots.
To open a pomegranate, you need a knife, bowl and wooden spoon:
- Roll the pomegranate around to loosen the seeds.
- Score around the middle of the fruit with a sharp knife, and tear it open into two halves. Try your best to only score the skin and not to cut through into the seeds.
- Hold half of the fruit with the seeds facing down over a clean bowl, and tap the skin with a wooden spoon while slightly squeezing to encourage the release of the seeds.
- Do the same thing with the other half.
- If there are a few stragglers among the white pith, you can simply remove them with your fingers or a spoon.
- Enjoy the product of your labor.
Whole pomegranates can be stored unopened at room temperature for about one week, or they can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for up to two months. Fresh pomegranate seeds, meanwhile, can be refrigerated for up to three days.
Alternatively, try freezing them in a single layer on a tray and then storing them in the freezer for up to six months in an airtight container. The seeds are often shriveled when thawed, but they still taste great in whatever you add them to!
Pomegranate seeds are versatile and delicious when eaten alone or incorporated into various dishes. They can be added to smoothies, puddings, salsas, salads, or main courses. They pair well with beets and goat cheese in a Beet and Pomegranate Salad Recipe. For a healthy dessert, try Chia Spiced Chia Seed Pudding with Pomegranate Seeds. Dried pomegranate seeds, also known as anardana, can be ground into a powder and sprinkled over dishes. To turn seeds into juice, blend them and strain with a cheesecloth.
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Pomegranate seeds and juice are safe for most healthy adults, with minimal side effects. However, if you have food allergies, discontinue consumption immediately and consult a doctor. Consult your doctor if you have blood pressure issues or take blood pressure medication. Pomegranate juice may cause dangerous side effects when ingested with prescription medications like warfarin and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. It is also not toxic to dogs, but the seeds may cause stomach upset. Consult a trusted healthcare practitioner before sharing pomegranate products with your furry friends.
- Pomegranate seeds are a type of edible seed pod often eaten raw or made into pomegranate juice.
- Each serving contains a hearty dose of fiber, antioxidants, and important micronutrients, like vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate.
- Are pomegranate seeds good for you? Potential pomegranate benefits include improved sexual function, enhanced memory, lower blood pressure levels, and improved heart health.
- Other benefits of pomegranate seeds include the ability to help fight bacterial infections, reduce cancer cell growth, and decrease joint pain.
- There are several options for how to eat pomegranate seeds. Not only can they be enjoyed raw, but they can also be added to salads, desserts, smoothies, and salsas as well.
- Although these seeds are generally safe for most healthy adults, be sure to consult with your doctor if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking prescription medications to prevent negative side effects.