May 06 , 2021
Pomegranates are a delicious, tart fruit that have earned their place in art, mythology and traditions across many of the world’s cultures. In cuisine, they are often used to decorate dishes such as stews and salads, or simply enjoyed on their own. But did you know that they have special health benefits too? Here are five benefits of this wonderful fruit.
1. Protection Against High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is the biggest cause of mortality in the world today, as it increases your risk of many diseases and their complications. Thankfully, a review of eight studies found that pomegranates can play a role in maintaining a healthy blood pressure. On average, pomegranate juice reduced systolic (maximum) blood pressure by 5mmHg, and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure by 2mmHg. Similar reductions in blood pressure have previously been shown to cut overall mortality by over 20%. The antioxidants in pomegranates are most likely behind these benefits, as oxidative stress contributes to high blood pressure.
2. Improving Blood Sugar Metabolism
Diabetes is another major health problem, with prolonged high levels of unabsorbed blood sugar able to cause serious tissue damage. A study of 85 people with type II diabetes tested the effects of pomegranate juice on blood sugar control, at a dose of 1.5mL per kilogram of their body weight (e.g. a 70kg person would drink 105mL). In three hours, they began to show reduced blood sugar levels, meaning that more sugar was able to enter cells; reduced insulin resistance; and improved beta-cell function, which are responsible for insulin production. Like their effect on blood pressure, pomegranates’ benefits in diabetes are mostly caused by their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. No More Senior Moments!
Age-related memory loss is sometimes laughed off as “senior moments”, but it is really a concerning issue that may lead to more serious problems later. A study on 28 people found that drinking eight ounces of pomegranate juice every day for one month helped to improve their visual and verbal memory, thanks to its antioxidant properties. While memory retrieval and total recall jumped in the pomegranate group, by roughly 15 percentage points and almost 10 percentage points respectively, they fell a little in the placebo group. Brain scans showed improved function too, meaning that it wasn’t down to practice or confidence.
4. Protection During Pregnancy
The placenta nourishes and protects your baby during pregnancy, and so any injury to it may increase the risk of complications. In women a few weeks away from delivery, pomegranate juice significantly relieved oxidative stress in the placenta, protecting it from damage. The main antioxidant in pomegranates, punicalagin, contributed the most.
5. May Slow Bone Loss
After menopause, women lose bone mass at a faster rate, leading to a higher risk of bone fractures. It is possible that pomegranate juice or extract may slow bone loss down, as shown by a study on mice. A combined extract of juice and seed was able to increase bone mass, reduce markers of bone loss back to pre-menopausal levels, and prevent loss of uterus weight. Pomegranates contain oestrogen-like substances, which are milder than human or animal oestrogen but share many of their benefits.
Overall, pomegranates are more than a delicious snack, refreshing drink or garnish. Their benefits in cardiovascular, metabolic, cognitive and reproductive health earn them superfood status. How do you enjoy pomegranates? Share with us your favourite recipes.