The delicious sweet taste of pomegranate seeds coupled with their gem-like sparkle and color has earned the fruit a frequent mention in mythology and history. Although most of us associate the 'forbidden fruit' from the garden of Eden to be an apple, Iranians believe that Eve was tempted with a pomegranate! Another famous tale featuring the fruit is part of Greek mythology where Persephone, daughter of the harvest goddess Demeter, was kidnapped by Hades, God of the underworld. Unfortunately she ate a few pomegranate seeds before being rescued because of which she had to spend several months every year in the underworld with him.
Besides being known in mythology, pomegranate is also well-known in traditional medicine. In the Middle East, Iran and India, the bark, leaves, skin and rind as well as the edible bits of the fruit are used to cure just about everything from conjunctivitis to hemorrhoids. Several studies have been conducted to prove the numerous benefits that the pomegranate has for human body.
Rich in Antioxidants
Much of the current research focuses on the antioxidants contained in pomegranates and their benefits. It is the only fruit to contain the three major antioxidants: tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid. Antioxidants have several important functions in the body, from boosting immunity system, to safeguarding the body (when in high concentrations) from the damaging effects of pollution, cancer, diabetes and many other debilitating diseases. Pomegranate juice most likely has more antioxidant properties than red wine or green tea!
The antioxidants called polyphenols, play an important part in protecting the heart and arteries. Studies in mice have shown that pomegranate juice slows down the rate at which arteries harden and may also reduce the amount of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, in the bloodstream. The polyphenols may even help reverse damage that high blood pressure causes to the walls of the arteries and blood vessels. The Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2002 conducted by Israeli researchers that proved pomegranates to be effective in fighting the leading cause of heart diseases such as atherosclerosis.
In traditional medicine, pomegranate benefits for skin and acne are widely reputed. This belief is now proven true by scientific study done by a team at Kingston University in London about the infection-fighting power of pomegranate rind. Following are the capabilities of a pomegranate that treat several skin problems and leave you with a healthy, glowing skin:
- It has amazing wound healing abilities that help repair the cuts, scrapes and bruises faster.
- The fruit is filled with vitamins A, C, E and iron and is also rich in antioxidants. These anti-aging properties prevent wrinkles and other aging indications like fine lines prominent on the face. This ultimately results in slow aging process. It also protects the skin from hyperpigmentation and age spots which gives you a younger looking skin.
- It repairs the skin that is damaged due to sun exposure.
- The pomegranate seed extract helps prevent various forms of skin cancer.
- Pomegranate oil goes deep into the skin and treats dryness and keeps it smooth and soft.
- When pomegranate rind is combined with vitamin C and metal salts, it can be turned into an ointment to treat common hospital infections including those caused by highly dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria.
Benefits for Pregnant Women
The benefits of pomegranate juice during the pregnancy come from its rich content of folic acid, potassium, niacin, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and fiber. Folic acid is the most important component for pregnant women as it keeps the body healthy while it is going through the process of cell growth and division during the pregnancy.
Alcohol consumption during the pregnancy is not a good idea as it can cause severe health problems to the mother as well as the baby. At such times pomegranate juice is the best option. It substitutes wine in the perfect way by giving you a tangy wine-like taste and at the same time prevents several health hazards which could be caused by wine consumption.
Pomegranate is also known to prevent any brain damage to the baby due to insufficient blood flow. The juice contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that make the blood vessels stay open and allow proper blood supply to all the body parts of the baby.
Pregnant women often experience leg cramps during night that adversely affect their sleeping time. Pomegranate juice contains a good amount of potassium that is said to reduce the intensity and frequency of the cramps and improve sleep.
Pomegranate is capable of bringing ease in a pregnancy. While the juice of this fruit helps pregnant women to stay hydrated, consumption of whole fruit (containing a lot of fiber in the seed) stimulates bowel movement.
Inhibits Breast Cancer Growth
According to a new study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a group of phytochemicals called ellagitannins found in abundance in pomegranates were seen to inhibit the growth of estrogen-responsive breast cancer in laboratory tests. Researchers say the ellagitannins in pomegranate work by inhibiting aromatase. Aromatase is a key enzyme used by the body to make estrogen which plays a key role in breast cancer growth.
While you may soon hear the phrase 'a pomegranate a day keeps the doctor away', one is advised against taking any pomegranate herbal or dietary supplement without consulting their doctor. Pomegranate juice may interact with some prescription medications, such as high blood pressure medications and statins.
Disclaimer: This NutriNeat article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.