pomegranate – Healthy superfoods – by Dr. Alberto Parra
Pomegranate has thousands of years of cuisine history and tradition. This granular apple with jewel-like seeds is featured in the Greek mythology, it was used in the Greek cuisine, and today it’s still a symbol of good luck and fertility in many parts of the world. Pomegranate has thick red skin with an internal array of white membranes covering a considerable group of seeds. Every part of the pomegranate has therapeutic potential, and in this article, we will discuss the nutritional content and health applications of this millenary fruit.
Pomegranate: A nutrient-dense food
There are more than 600 seeds in each pomegranate, and half a cup of them provide a lot of nutrients, including many vitamins, minerals, fiber, and proteins. With only 72 calories, pomegranates contain an impressive amount of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and folate. These vitamins are vital for the enzymes that make up our metabolism; they regulate coagulation, cell replication, boost our immune function, and serve as antioxidants.
Pomegranates also provide a high level of potassium and phosphorus, which makes it a great ally if you’re looking to lower your high blood pressure or balance your sodium/potassium intake. Even after taking away its peel, pomegranate contains 1.5 grams of fiber, as well as protein (1.5 grams). However, beyond nutrition, the health applications of pomegranates have been well researched by modern science. It contains flavonoids, tannins and various active ingredients with antioxidant, antimicrobial and anthelminthic potential.
Health applications of pomegranates seeds and peel
Many of the health applications of pomegranates are related to its phenolic compounds and their associated antioxidant activity. These are especially concentrated in the pomegranate peel, which is the reason why many people prefer not to throw it away. Instead, we can obtain an extract of pomegranate peel by boiling it for 40 minutes, thus seizing all of the inherent benefits of this fruit. Among the most critical health applications, we have:
A protective role for your cardiovascular system: Pomegranates has 2 main components to protect your body from cardiovascular disease: Polyphenols and fiber. Polyphenols display a powerful antioxidant potential that prevents atherosclerosis plaquesThese plaques are formed after bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) is accumulated and oxidized, but the antioxidant agents in pomegranates prevent LDL oxidation and halt the progression of atherosclerosis. On the other hand, the fiber content in the peels helps you control your blood lipids, and reduce their accumulation in the arteries. Three polyphenols in pomegranates, called gallic acid, ellagic acid, and punicalagin will additionally stimulate your liver to synthesize an enzyme that further reduces your chances of having atherosclerosisThree polyphenols in called acid, ellagic acid,and punicalagin will additionally stimulate your liver to an enzyme that further reduces your chances of having atherosclerosis the other hand ,the fiber content in the peels helps you control your blood lipids,and reduce their accumulation in the arteries As such ,pomegranates are the ultimate cardiovascular protection pack.
An anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic potential: This potential is concentrated on the pomegranate peel, which as punicalagin, punicalin, and other molecules that control inflammation. They decrease the production of prostaglandin, which is one of the most important inflammatory signals in our body. Scientific studies report that inflammatory cells are less active around pomegranate peel extracts, with the potential of controlling allergies as well.
Anti-cancer properties: Pomegranate has plenty of studies for its anti-cancer potential against prostate, colon, skin cancer and breast cancer. It has a preventative role given by its antioxidant potential. Flavonoids and other substances in pomegranates inhibit free radicals, which are molecules with the propensity of taking away atoms from cells and tissues. By doing so, they could damage healthy tissues and cause mutations to their DNA in a process called “oxidative stress.” However, there are antioxidant agents in pomegranates capable of fighting off these molecules to prevent oxidative stress.
Anti-microbial mechanisms: Pomegranates are also capable of preventing infections. Some phenolic compounds in this fruit react with the microbial cell membrane and cause bacterial death. By triggering changes to the cell membrane and altering their metabolism, these polyphenols can sum up to our internal barriers against disease. According to different studies, we can prevent food-borne illnesses, gastrointestinal disorders, urinary tract infections, and other pathogens with pomegranate fruit and peel extracts.
Antiviral properties: The tannins in pomegranates also display an antiviral property, especially against respiratory infections. Tannins inhibit the formation of an RNA strand, which is vital for the spread of the virus. Some studies have also identified pomegranates as an active formulation against malaria, especially with some strains of Plasmodium falciparum, the pathogenic agent of malaria.
Applications for wound healing: For many years, pomegranate has been applied topically in open and closed wounds, with or without tissue. The antioxidant activity in pomegranates along with the epithelialization potential makes pomegranates an excellent ally against gastric ulcers and other mucosal injuries.
No wonder why there are many dietary supplements and guides about pomegranate preparation and its many health benefits. However, keep in mind that consuming pomegranates as a part of your diet brings about more benefits than isolating a few molecules and throwing away the rest.
Juicing pomegranates often takes out a critical amount of fiber, and throwing out the peel means dumping more than half of the antioxidant potential in the fruit. There are plenty of recipes designed to take the best out of each section, and enjoy pomegranates along with their many health benefits.