Here’s your all-encompassing guide to the fall favorite, including the benefits of pomegranate, the potential risks of eating pomegranate, and the nutritional values of pomegranate.
Pomegranate Nutrition Facts
Pomegranates are often classified as a “superfood,” and with good reason. It’s packed with antioxidants called polyphenols, which include compounds that are good for you like anthocyanins, flavonoids, and tannins, according to an article in the journal Food & Function. Fun fact: According to an article in the journal Molecule, anthocyanins also double as plant pigments, meaning they yield a red, blue, and/or purple product to produce. (Other fruits with anthocyanins include blackberries, plums, and cherries.) Moreover, pomegranates offer vital nutrients such as vitamin C (another antioxidant), iron, calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin.
Nutritional profile of 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds:
- 72 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 1 gram of fat
- 16 grams of carbohydrates
- 3 grams of fiber
- 12 grams of sugar
Health Benefits of Pomegranate
Being a source of essential nutrients and antioxidants, pomegranates definitely deserve a place in your fruit plate. Find out about the numerous benefits of pomegranate according to dietitians and research here.
May reduce the risk of disease
Because they are rich in antioxidants, pomegranates may help lower your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, which are the biggest contributors to chronic disease, says Paula Doebrich, MPH, RDN, founder of Happea Nutrition and registered dietitian. Antioxidants (including those found in pomegranates) work by neutralizing free radicals, or compounds that can damage cells when present at high levels. But eating antioxidant-rich foods like pomegranates can help manage oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially keeping chronic ailments at bay.
Supports Immune Function
Eat 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds and you’ll get about nine milligrams of vitamin C. It’s essential for healthy immune function because it helps white blood cells (aka immune cells) attack disease-causing pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, says Valerie Agyeman, a health dietitian and founder of Flourish Heights. Also, according to Agyeman, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C protect white blood cells from oxidative stress, keeping them healthy and able to fight germs.
Supports Healthy Digestion
The benefits of pomegranate seeds extend to your gut. Specifically, the seeds contain insoluble fiber, a type of fiber that adds bulk to stool, as noted by the University of California San Francisco. According to Doebrich, this makes it easier to pass stool, potentially easing or preventing constipation. But watch out: Fiber is found in the pulp of pomegranate seeds, so there’s significantly less fiber in pomegranate juice, says Agyeman. “This is because fiber is lost during the juicing process,” he says. So, while pomegranate juice has a variety of benefits, you’ll want to opt for the whole seeds, especially if you’re after digestive benefits.
Protects Brain Health
As mentioned, pomegranate antioxidants may reduce the risk of chronic conditions. According to Doebrich, this includes diseases that affect the brain. Here’s the deal: According to an article in the journal Medicine for Aging, oxidative stress increases with age. According to an article in the journal Frontiers, especially in the brain, oxidative stress can damage neurons (i.e. nerve cells), thereby increasing the risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as disease. However, antioxidants, including those found in pomegranates, may help by reducing oxidative stress and ultimately protecting the brain, says Doebrich.
Manages Blood Pressure Levels
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease. But eating certain foods (as well as healthy lifestyle habits like exercise and stress management) can help keep your blood pressure in check. The polyphenols found in pomegranates help lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels. They work by reducing the activity of angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE), which produces angiotensin II, a substance that would otherwise narrow blood vessels and increase blood pressure, according to Rhyan Geiger, RDN, dietitian and founder of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. “Pomegranates can help lower blood pressure by blocking the action of these enzymes.” Agyeman notes that pomegranate seeds also offer a dose of another essential nutrient for healthy blood pressure.
May Support Exercise Performance
Doebrich says the polyphenols in pomegranate seeds and juice are associated with better exercise performance, although more human studies are needed to confirm the link. For starters, the antioxidant properties of polyphenols are thought to accelerate healing. Doebrich explains that polyphenols can also stimulate the expression of certain genes linked to endurance. “Finally, polyphenols are believed to improve blood flow rate by increasing nitric oxide. (Nitric oxide is a substance that dilates your blood vessels, helping the body get oxygen-rich blood during physical activity and recovery, Geiger explains.) But again, Doebrich points out. More robust research is needed to confirm that its increased performance is one of the health benefits of pomegranate.
Who Should Not Eat Pomegranate?
Pomegranate can naturally lower blood pressure. So if you’re already taking blood pressure lowering medications such as ACE inhibitors, you may need to limit or avoid pomegranates. Consuming the fruit can lower your blood pressure, so talk to your doctor before adding pomegranate to your plate.
It’s rare to have a nara allergy, but it’s still possible. Some common symptoms of a food allergy include tingling or itching in the mouth, hives, shortness of breath, stomach pain, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat. If you notice any of these symptoms, stop consuming pomegranate seeds or juice and call your doctor for further guidance. Similarly, if you have a history of food allergies and are new to pomegranates, be careful when eating them for the first time.