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Fall in Love with Pomegranate: How to Eat This Nutritional Powerhouse


written by Skye Sherman - Oct 31, 2022
medically reviewed by Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Dec 6, 2022

Photo Credit: by @CPOHealth, Instagram
Photo Credit: by @CPOhealth, Instagram

The benefits of eating seasonally are well documented. There are certain foods available in abundance at certain times of year and there’s a good reason for that: the planet seems to naturally grow what our bodies most need as the seasons change. It’s a beautiful cycle of life!

One of the most unique foods available in the fall is the pomegranate. This funky fruit has a distinctive shape and an interior unlike any other. Filled with juicy seeds, a pomegranate requires you to cut through the shiny, leathery red flesh and find the chambers of bright maroon seeds stored inside.

Every pomegranate is filled with these unique, pop-in-your-mouth flavors, but some are sweeter than others, while some are more tart. The flavor can also depend on the season, level of ripeness, variety, and where it’s grown.

But why exactly is the pomegranate so special? What makes this autumnal fruit a great item to add to your diet as the leaves start to change colors and fall to the ground?

In this article, we’ll take a look at nutrition facts, top health benefits, and ways to eat pomegranates.

Pomegranate nutrition facts

What exactly does a pomegranate do for you? Why is this beautiful red fruit filled with seeds so good for you?

First, you need to know the different parts of a pomegranate. According to Healthline, “The seeds comprise around 3% of the weight of a pomegranate. Each seed is encased in a sweet and juicy covering known as an aril. While the seeds themselves are hard and fibrous, you might be missing out on some health benefits if you discarded them.”

Most of the nutritional value of a pomegranate comes from the aril, but the seeds seem to have some benefits, too, including lots of vitamin E, fiber, and magnesium. Healthline also explains, “Like all fruit components, pomegranate seeds contain antioxidants. However, they’re not as rich in antioxidants as the arils. The seeds contain various phenolic acids and polyphenols, including flavonoids, tannins, and lignans. Pomegranate seeds comprise around 12 [to] 20% seed oil. This oil mainly consists of punicic acid, a polyunsaturated fat.”

Studies show that this acid may reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote weight loss. However, this has only been tested in mice so far, so we need studies completed on humans as well to get the full picture.

In addition, you don’t necessarily want to eat unlimited quantities of pomegranate seeds. Some research has shown that very high intake of pomegranate seeds may increase the risk of intestinal blockage in people with severe, chronic constipation, or a history of diverticulosis, even though one of the health benefits is that they are rich in fiber.

Overall, now you can see why eating these juicy seeds (or even just drinking the juice) can be such a good idea for the health-conscious people out there!

Top health benefits of pomegranates

Now, let’s look at the main health benefits of pomegranates. They could almost be considered a superfood with how many benefits they have! Pomegranates contain antioxidants and flavonoids and they are great for your heart, immune system, and even your urinary tract. In addition, pomegranates have the power to lower inflammation and lower blood pressure. In women, regular consumption of pomegranates can result in glowing skin and even boosted fertility.

Medical News Today explains, “Pomegranate is a fruit that contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. … Possible benefits of pomegranate juice include being an antioxidant, which may help prevent cancer and other conditions, providing vitamin C, boosting digestive health, and reducing insulin resistance. It may help with cancer prevention, immune support, and fertility.”

Interestingly, pomegranates contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients that are especially important in the fall. For example, as Medical News Today puts it, “Pomegranate is rich in polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants.” If you’ve ever gotten a cold in the fall or winter, you know how vital an immune boost can be at this time of year! Eating a fruit that contains a lot of vitamin C and supports your immune system is a great idea at a time of year when your body may be fighting off more harmful invaders than usual.

Aside from that, pomegranates are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant; vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting; and magnesium, which helps manage blood pressure and glucose levels, according to Medical News Today. They can even improve exercise performance and help with post-exercise recovery.

Other diseases that pomegranates can assist with include Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, blood pressure issues, memory issues, inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and metabolic and cardiovascular disorders.

Pomegranates may even be able to fight pathogens thanks to their antimicrobial properties. That’s why they can also be good for wound healing. Medical News Today explains, “Some researchers have used the flowers and extract of pomegranate to heal wounds, noting a significant decrease in the size of wounds treated in this way. They also observed that the structure of the new skin was well-formed and that there were few inflammatory cells in the area.”

Lastly, there’s a reason pomegranates have long been a symbol for fertility across many cultures. As ClearBlue explains, “Pomegranates reportedly benefit both male and female fertility. Rich in antioxidants, some say eating pomegranates – long a symbol of fertility – can increase blood flow to the uterus and thicken the uterine lining.” They may also help improve sperm quality and motility, which is a sperm’s ability to move to the egg.

Can pomegranates prevent cancer?

As you can see, there are many benefits of pomegranates. In fact, did you know that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) include pomegranates on their list of natural remedies that may help treat or prevent prostate cancer?

They report, “Pomegranate juice and extract, as well as some of their bioactive components, inhibit the proliferation of various prostate cancer cell lines in vitro and induce apoptotic cell death in a dose-dependent manner. … Studies in rodent models of prostate cancer have shown that ingestion of pomegranate juice can decrease the rate of development, growth, and spread of prostate cancer.”

Obviously, this fruit is a powerhouse! Other research suggests that pomegranates may also help prevent breast, lung, and skin cancers. Further studies are needed, but the results so far seem promising, and it can’t hurt to add a bit of pomegranate into your regular rotation.

Best ways to eat a pomegranate

What are the tastiest ways to add pomegranates to your diet? The good news is there are a lot of tasty ways to eat a pomegranate, and you’ll never get bored.

Even eating a raw pomegranate, exactly how it comes, can only be described as fun. These fruits are fun to look at, fun to open, and fun to spill out onto your plate and eat. The juice-filled seeds are so colorful and cute, they almost seem like food you want to play with! And you can make it fun with a bowl of these smooth-textured, tasty seeds. Just grab a utensil and enjoy them by the spoonful.

Of course, there are many other ways to get your pomegranate fix. Another popular way to eat pomegranates is to drink pomegranate juice. Be careful with this, though: if you’re not making the juice yourself but instead buying it from a company or grocery store, there can be sneaky additives such as added sugar, flavors, or preservatives. All you need is plain pomegranate juice to get the health benefits, but if you end up drinking something loaded with artificial sugars and other ingredients, you may do more harm than good.

Keep in mind that pomegranates are in season in the fall. This is a great time to eat them not only because your grocery store should have fresh pomegranates in stock, but also because they will give your body the particular vitamins and nutrients it most needs at this time of year as the weather changes and you fight off seasonal allergies and illnesses that may be going around.

Aside from raw, fresh pomegranates in seed or juice form, there are also many recipes incorporating pomegranates. First of all, a pomegranate is a fun and delicious topping for any number of dishes. Sprinkle them atop a salad for added crunch and flavor, stir them into a cocktail for a fun treat to sip up your straw, or add them into (or on top of) desserts to add some extra nutrition content to your sweet treat.

Have you ever heard of pomegranate molasses? It’s another great way to use pomegranates in your diet and cooking. Simply Recipes explains, “Pomegranate molasses is a traditional ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking and can be used in a variety of dishes such as Fesenjan Persian chicken stew or eggplant lentil stew.” You can find it at specialized grocery stores or even make it yourself. Then, incorporate it into various recipes or mix it with orange juice and club soda for a refreshing alcohol-free punch cocktail… or both!

You can even make a pomegranate dessert and let pomegranates shine as the star of the treat. They pair perfectly with dark chocolate, another antioxidant powerhouse. Try this easy Pomegranate Dark Chocolate Bite recipe from This Healthy Table:

Ingredients

● 2 ½ cups pomegranate seeds

● 5.25 ounces (150 grams) high-quality dark chocolate

● 1 tablespoon sea salt

Instructions

1. Across 12 muffin cups, sprinkle a single layer of pomegranate seeds.

2. Melt the dark chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Check often to make sure it’s not burning.

3. Add the melted dark chocolate to a piping bag or plastic bag. Snip off the end, so a small stream of chocolate can come out.

4. Pipe a crisscross pattern of chocolate across the pomegranate seeds. Add another layer of pomegranate seeds, then more chocolate, and then the last layer of pomegranate seeds.

5. Finish with a pinch of sea salt on each of the pomegranate chocolate bites.

6. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. After removing from the fridge, serve immediately.

This recipe contains simple, clean ingredients and takes only a few minutes to make! It’s the perfect dessert that won’t ruin your diet, but only improve your health. Make this sweet treat all fall long and you won’t even miss bad-for-you sugar bombs like Halloween candy or artificially flavored pies.

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