I’m a big advocate of the Mediterranean diet simply because it’s both nutritious and delicious. Whilst olive oil and tomatoes may spring to mind, pomegranates are also integral to Mediterranean cooking, yet they receive little attention here in the UK. A type of berry, they consist of an inedible skin, within which lie hundreds of edible seeds (‘arils’) that are loaded with important vitamins, minerals and plant compounds. Intrigued to know more? Read on to discover our Top 5 Health Benefits of Pomegranate!
Inflammation has been associated with chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. However, punicalagins (potent antioxidant compounds) in pomegranate juice have been shown to reduce this inflammation. In one study, diabetics who drank 250ml of pomegranate juice every day for 12 weeks lowered inflammatory markers by an impressive 30-32%.
Cancer is thought to affect 1 in 3 people; a rather scary statistic. However, there is some evidence that pomegranates may be useful in battling prostate and breast cancer by halting cancerous cell growth and inducing cell death (‘apoptosis’). Whilst promising, current studies have been limited to the lab, so more investigations involving human subjects are needed to confirm these anti-cancer effects.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are bad news for your heart. However, pomegranate juice has been shown to help those with elevated blood pressure to lower their levels in as little as two weeks. Other studies have shown pomegranates can improve your cholesterol profile and prevent LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol from being oxidised; an important process in the development of heart disease.
Your oral health is vital to how you look and feel. Lucky for you, plant compounds found in pomegranates are believed to be protective against bacteria that are responsible for oral infections and inflammation, including gingivitis and periodontitis (aka ‘gum inflammation’ and ‘gum disease’).
5. Exercise boosting
Looking for something other than an espresso to keep you going at the gym? Reach for pomegranates! They are high in dietary nitrates; compounds proven to improve exercise performance. In one study, those who ate 1g of pomegranate extract half an hour before exercise experienced significantly more blood flow to their muscles, in turn delaying the onset of fatigue.
Pomegranates are, in my opinion, unappreciated in the UK yet consuming them carries a broad range of advantages, including reducing the risk of disease whilst helping you to maintain optimum physical performance. Take a wise leaf out of the Mediterranean diet menu and start reaping these health benefits by sprinkling the seeds on salads or yogurt. Find them fiddly to cook with? Check out the video above for a quick and easy way to de-seed a pomegranate. Passionate about these powerful fruits? Let us know below or @KeepfitKingdom !