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Health Benefits of Pomegranates: Who Should and Shouldn’t Eat Them?

Who should eat pomegranates?

Pomegranate fruits are sweet and round with thick, red skin. Health benefits of pomegranates include improved exercise performance, heart health, brain health, digestive health, and other benefits.
Pomegranate fruits are sweet and round with thick, red skin. Health benefits of pomegranates include improved exercise performance, heart health, brain health, digestive health, and other benefits.

Pomegranate is an evergreen in the family Punicaceae. Its fruits are sweet and round with thick, red skin. It is native to northern India and Iran. 

Pomegranates are nutritious and can be eaten for a variety of health benefits. 

Some of these advantages include: 

Improved exercise performance, endurance, and recovery

Pomegranates contain polyphenols. Polyphenols may enhance heart performance, increase exercise endurance during physical activity, and quicken recovery.

Supporting urinary health

Pomegranates may support urinary health by reducing the formation of kidney stones in your body.

Pomegranate extract may also regulate the concentration of phosphates, oxalates, and calcium in the blood, major components of kidney stones.

Preventing dental plaque

Pomegranate extracts may help manage dental plaque. A pomegranate dental rinse is as good as a mouthwash. Pomegranate juice also inhibits the growth of the germs linked to periodontitis. 

Improving heart health

Pomegranate juice may regulate blood pressure and manage the involved risk factors. Pomegranate juice is more effective than the seeds at lowering cholesterol and inflammation, which are both risk factors for heart disease.

Pomegranates have antimicrobial properties

Pomegranates contain antimicrobial compounds that may help fight certain harmful microorganisms. These antimicrobial compounds may improve dental health by targeting problematic oral germs that cause bad breath and encourage tooth decay. Pomegranate antibacterial compounds are also effective against Listeria monocytogenes, deadly bacteria that breed in moist areas.

Protecting your brain

Ellagitannins, compounds found in pomegranates, act as antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory properties. They protect the brain from risk factors brought by inflammation and oxidative stress

Ellagitannins may also protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by decreasing oxidative damage, thus increasing the survival rate of brain cells.

Supporting digestive health

Pomegranates increase levels of good gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. This suggests that pomegranates may have prebiotic and metabolic properties. Pomegranates are also rich in fiber, which is vital for digestive health.

Pomegranates are packed with nutrients

Pomegranates are low-calorie healthy fruits rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C. Their seeds are rich in fiber and should be eaten directly rather than in juice form to reap full benefits. 

Reducing markers of inflammation

If left unmanaged, chronic inflammation can cause severe chronic conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cancer. Pomegranates actively reduce chronic inflammation linked with chronic illnesses. 

Punicalagins, compounds found in pomegranates, possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Lowering the risk of infections 

Pomegranate juice is a potent antiviral rich in vitamin C and other immune-supporting vitamins. It is an effective antibacterial and antiviral treat, perfect for preventing and fighting off illnesses and infections. 

Cancer prevention

Pomegranates inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells, suggesting that they may prevent cancer or reduce the risk. While the results are still preliminary, studies of the effect of pomegranate juice on prostate cancer cells are encouraging.

Good for the immune system 

Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, compounds that protect the cells from destruction by free radicals that cause chronic diseases. Antioxidants like punicalagin, hydrolyzable tannins, and anthocyanins found in pomegranates support overall health and boost the immune system.

People who shouldn’t eat pomegranates

Pomegranates have the potential to heal or prevent conditions such as blood pressure, high cholesterol, macrophage oxidative stress, hyperglycemia, and inflammatory activities, among others. 

Even though pomegranate juice is considered safe for most people, though, the following people should seek doctor’s advice before consuming this fruit.

  • People who are allergic to specific plants. If you are already allergic to some plants, you’re more likely to react to pomegranates. Though uncommon, pomegranate allergies have been reported. Symptoms include throat irritation, hives, stomach pains, and itching. In severe cases, one may also experience swelling of the throat and tongue, difficulty breathing, and anaphylactic shock.
  • People on cancer medication. If you are receiving cancer treatment, ask your oncologist before consuming pomegranate or any other herb. Pomegranate may interact with cancer medications in the body, making them less effective.
  • People on blood pressure medication. Pomegranate extracts may lower blood pressure levels. While this is good news for most, it may prove life-threatening to people with low blood pressure and those with unmanageable fluctuations in blood pressure.  

Bottom line

Pomegranates are nutritious, tasty, low-calorie fruits rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, anti-inflammatories, and antioxidants. There is much evidence and ongoing research into the health benefits of pomegranate for digestive, cardiovascular, urinary, and cerebral health benefits. 

That being said, excess intake of pomegranates may cause various side effects for different people. To be safe, consume pomegranates in moderation and consult your doctor before consuming them while under medication.

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