Pomegranate: “Nature’s Power Fruit”

Pomegranate: “Nature’s Power Fruit”

Dr Cesar Lara

Pomegranate has been used as medicine dating from ancient times. It has come to be known as the divine fruit, since it the fruit most mentioned in theological books. Some argue that every pomegranate has exactly 613 seeds (613 is a significant number in Judaism, being referred to as the “angel number” with the belief that every complete entity is divisible into 613 parts). The pomegranate has gained fame for its diverse and mystical collection of cosmetic, medicinal, and traditional uses. The whole fruit including leaves, skin, and rind has been used traditionally to cure anything becoming “a pharmacy unto itself”.

A single pomegranate contains more than 100 phytochemicals. The fruit is rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K and a good source of folate, potassium, and fibre. It is antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory.

Full of Anti-oxidants

Pomegranates contain a high number of antioxidants. A single pomegranate contains 3x more antioxidants (1)than red wine and green tea. The fruit’s seeds have a vivid red pigment due to the presence of these antioxidants, specifically polyphenols. Antioxidants are important because they help protect the body from inflammation and free radicals, which are responsible for premature aging usually from sun exposure or air pollution. The antioxidants also have the ability to help reduce exercise- induced oxidative stress (2) or damage by improving strength recovery and alleviating soreness. Antioxidants found in pomegranates also improve bone health(3) and help prevent arthritis. This is because the polyphenols aid in bone formation and regeneration helping create healthy and strong bones.

Blood Thinning Capabilities

Gathering from the fruit’s uncanny resemblance to the human heart with its multi- chambered core and red blood-like juice it comes as no shock that this fruit is extremely heart healthy. The antioxidants present act as a blood thinner (4), clearing clogged arteries, preventing blood clots, and helping pump oxygen through the blood. Pomegranate can even prevent the progression of coronary artery disease or atherosclerosis (5) caused by the accumulation of excess fatty materials. The fruit does so by preventing bad (LDL) cholesterol from oxidizing and inhibiting the artery walls from hardening and thickening. Pomegranate also contains punicic acid (6) which helps lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and reduce systolic blood pressure. It is also rich in vitamin C, providing the body with 40% (7)of its daily recommended dose. The high vitamin C content of pomegranate renders this fruit an acceptable means to fighting cardiovascular disease as vitamin C deficiency is claimed as a contributing factor to cardiovascular disease.

Anti-inflammatory

Pomegranate has powerful anti-inflammatory (8) properties.  The high vitamin C content makes it effective for those suffering with immune-related disorders since vitamin C boosts antibody production and helps in the development of immunity. Pomegranate juice’s ability to reduce inflammation particularly in the gut area. A pomegranate has a high amount of fibre in the white seeds, which contain about 48% of the recommended daily fibre intake. This makes it great for improving digestion and helpful in treating digestive inflammatory diseases (9) such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Diabetes

Pomegranate has been used as an alternative remedy for diabetes (10) in the Middle East and India for years. This is because pomegranate has been found to be able to decrease insulin resistance and lower blood sugar.

Improve Memory

The high concentration of antioxidants in the juice are also thought to protect memory (11) and improve learning and even has the potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease . Simply, drink 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day.

Astringent

The juice from pomegranates act as an astringent cleansing the circulatory system by shrinking and disinfecting the mucous membrane. The same epithelial cells line both the mouth and artery walls. The astringent qualities of the juice have been found to strengthen gums, fight against plaque and gingivitis (12), and is effective in killing oral bacteria  (13). One can either use the juice as a mouthwash or rub the grinds against the teeth and gums.

The health and healing capabilities extend even beyond these mentioned as research is developing on its antiviral (14)abilities in fighting off infections and viruses. Some research also shows promising results that pomegranate may help fight certain cancers (15) such as prostate (16)and breast cancer.

Pomegranates can be found at just about any grocery store especially when in season from late summer through autumn. Avoid buying pasteurized juice as these usually have added sugars and sodium and you will lose a lot of the vital nutrients from the fruit since Vitamin C can be broken down when pasteurized. The best pomegranate is one that is a bit heavy with firm skin (scratches do not affect the inside of the fruit). It is easiest to eat by cutting in half and using a spoon to scoop out the seeds. You can eat these by themselves or add to just about anything such as your salads, oatmeal, or even desserts!

*Take caution as pomegranate juice may interfere with some heart medications.

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