The mysterious health properties of the pomegranate

February 24, 2012

Food, Healing, Health

Although healthy benefits can be derived from every part of the pomegranate, researchers have focused on the arils and their juice.

by Karen Langston — 

Hidden inside this unusual-looking little fruit are five life-saving reasons why you should eat the pomegranate. Although this rather unattractive orb has been consumed and used for centuries around the world, its popularity in North America is in its infancy.

It is the oldest known fruit on the planet, which could cause one to wonder why the apple was considered forbidden in Eden. Perhaps, then, the pomegranate was Adam and Eve’s fruit of choice, as reference has been made to the possible mistaken identity. Its virtues have been extolled in writings from Chaucer, Shakespeare and Homer to the Bible.

The pomegranate has been called the “fruit of the underworld,” “the fruit of paradise” and “the fruit of fertility.” The Romans referred to it as the Punic apple, and it received its Latin name, Punicum malum, from the Italian voyage onboard the Carthage (meaning Punic). Later, the fruit became the Punicum granatum — the word granatum referring to its many seeds.

The pomegranate is favored for its medicinal properties, as well as its decorative qualities. Its skin was used to dye leather and everyday fabrics, while the seeds were used to color fine fabrics. Ancient Egyptian physicians had more than 700 remedies for treating disease, yet the most popular ingredient was the pomegranate. Physicians in Greece prescribed the juice as a treatment for arthritis, circulation disorders, viruses and digestive problems.

Although health benefits can be derived from every part of the pomegranate, researchers have focused on the arils and their juice.

The inside of a pomegranate is made up of  700 to 800 tightly packed, deep ruby-red arils. For those who may be watching their weight, this fruit is low in calories and high in healthy nutrients. It is also rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, phytochemicals, anthocyanins punicalagins and ellagic acid. Pomegranate arils are high in fiber and are a rich source of antioxidants, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus.

Worried about high blood pressure? — Pomegranates are high in potassium, which aids in lowering blood pressure. Studies show that pomegranate juice can actually reduce systolic blood pressure. One study concluded that drinking 1.7 ounces of juice per day can lower systolic blood pressure by as much as 5 percent.

Worried about heart disease? — Drink to your cardiovascular health. Pomegranates have no shortage of polyphenols (natural anti-inflammatories), which can reduce the inflammation associated with heart disease, improve circulation to the heart and reduce arterial wall thickness. These little red super wonders can also lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, which helps in the fight against heart disease.

Worried about prostate cancer? — The polyphenols in pomegranate juice not only inhibit the growth of cancer cells, but also actually work to kill them. According to one study, published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and authored by scientists at UCLA: “Pomegranate extracts may be able to slow prostate cancer cell growth, as well as significantly delay the transition of prostate tumors from the more favorable androgen-sensitive state to the treatment-resistant androgen-insensitive state.” Drinking a mere 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day kept prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels stable, preventing the need for chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Worried about germs? — Ward off the bad guys with pomegranates. Scientists have discovered that the antimicrobial properties of pomegranates can kill seven different bacteria. This is good news when it comes to warding off colds and other infections.

Worried about bone loss? — A study conducted in Japan’s Saitama Prefectural University found that, “Bone volume and the trabecular number were significantly increased and the trabecular separation was decreased in the pomegranate-dosed group, compared with the control group. Some histological bone formation/reabsorption parameters were significantly increased by ovariectomy but were normalized by administration of the pomegranate extract.”

Studies also indicate that pomegranates can be beneficial in slowing the aging process, as well as aiding in the prevention of breast cancer, lung cancer, anemia, bleeding hemorrhoids, morning sickness, sore throat and Alzheimer’s disease.

For centuries, our ancestors have used pomegranates for healing and prevention. So do not wait for further studies to validate what the pomegranate can already do for you. Just start eating and drinking to your health.

Resources:

  • homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/pomehistory.htm.; carefair.com/nutrition/pomegranate_natures_oldest_medicine_791.html.; doctorwascher.com/Archives/10-12-08.htm.; www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/14/5/1808/pdf.
  • www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15099854.

 

Karen Langston is a chief body reorganizer and certified nutritionist. You can find her wandering the grocery aisles uncovering the sexiness of food. 623-252-HEAL (4325), Karenlangston.com or KKaren@IamWorthit2.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 2, April/May 2011.

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Web Analytics