Pomegranate has gained a lot of attention in the past few years. Until recently it had taken a back seat, probably because it can be messy and awkward to eat. However, due to a widened understanding of antioxidants and their health promoting properties, pomegranate health benefits have found a new gained fame – and rightly so!
Punicalagins are powerful antioxidants exclusive to pomegranates and are the major component of the fruits overall antioxidant power. A study published on August 25, 2009 by the Institute of Environmental Sciences, Jagiellonian University, Poland, showed that punicalagins have a positive effect upon gut flora. Studying the effects of a pomegranate supplement (POMx) containing high doses of punicalagins, researchers found it inhibited the growth of pathogenic gut flora clostridia and Staphyloccocus aureus in human subjects. While this alone can improve our immune system and digestive health, punicalagins went one step further – they also significantly enhanced the growth of bifidobacterium breve and bifidobacterium infantis. These are probiotic gut floras that enhance our well being and digestive health. Other studies have found health benefits of pomegranate punicalagins, including protective effects against UV light, anti-cancer properties, lowering the risk of heart disease and having strong antioxidant properties for protecting the colon from disease.
Ellagic Acid is another potent antioxidant found in pomegranate. A study has shown that ellagic acid inhibits DNA from binding with carcinogens. Other studies have show ellagic acid to have beneficial effects in lowering inflammation in the colon and reducing the risk of developing colon cancer. Other evidence supports ellagic acid with the ability to lower blood pressure.
Anthocyanins completes the trio of the main non-vitamin antioxidants that provide pomegranate health benefits. Also found in blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, and red/black grapes, anthocyanins have potent health promoting properties. In fact, it is the high levels of anthocyanins found in acai berries which gives them the status of a super food. Although found in much lower levels in pomegranate, anthocyanins are still present in high enough quantities to impart their health benefits. The pomegranate health benefits of anthocyanins include protecting blood vessels from free radical damage, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of developing artherosclerosis and heart disease, and lowering our risk of developing cancers.
Pomegranate health benefits include its very good levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential part of a healthy immune system – helping to keep the arteries elasticated, helping to keep the skin supple and reducing our risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Other vitamins found in good amounts are B1, B2, B3, folate, pantothenic acid, B6, E and K.
Pomegranates are a great source of the mineral potassium – which is needed for the proper functioning of muscles, including the heart. Other minerals in noticeable amounts include phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, selenium and zinc.
Just a quick note on the health benefits of pomegranate juice. Although freshly juiced pomegranate will contain a lot of the original nutrition found in the edible part of the fruit, not all packaged juice is up to the mark. However, there are some reputable companies out there that supply high quality pomegranate juice. Do a little research beforehand to ensure you find a juice which retains high levels of the health promoting antioxidants.
Darren and Veronica Haynes