Pomegranate seeds are the edible portion of pomegranate fruit. These seeds are filled with red tart delicious juice. Pomegranate seeds have an array of health benefits such as improvement in memory and cognitive function, reduction in inflammation and arthritic pain, protection against cancer, protection against cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis.
Pomegranate seeds can be added to the long list of foods acting as an aphrodisiac such as chocolate, honey, artichokes, asparagus, avocados, bananas, coconuts, dates, etc.
Let’s see in detail other aspects of this wonder fruit including nutrition, health benefits, and precaution.
What are pomegranate seeds?
The word pomegranate comes from Latin language and literally means seeded apple. Pomegranates are fruits which grow on the Punica granatum tree.
They originated in the middle east and spread to the Mediterranean region. Now, this fruit is widely grown all over the world.
In most of the fruits, we eat the pulp and throw away the seeds. In pomegranate, the seeds are the only edible part. The seeds are present in an aril that contains juice.
On splitting open a pomegranate, there are 200 to 1500 seeds inside it, depending on the size of the fruit.
Pomegranate seeds nutritional facts
Pomegranate seeds are very rich in nutrients such as vitamins, manganese, copper, potassium, calcium, vitamin k, vitamin c, folic acid, choline, etc.
A single serving (282g) will give you 234 calories. This makes pomegranate a relatively low-calorie food and hence an ideal snack for people on a diet.
Pomegranate seeds also contain a high quantity of antioxidants such as tannins, flavonoids, and anthocyanin. (1) These antioxidants help prevent free radical damage.
Pomegranate seeds can cause stomach upset in dogs, so it’s better to keep them away from your loyal companions.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.17 g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber||4 g||11%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.135 mg||3%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Vitamin C||10.2 mg||17%|
|Vitamin E||0.60 mg||4%|
|Vitamin K||16.4 µg||14%|
Health benefits of pomegranate seeds
A word of caution- All the potential benefits listed here are seen with the consumption of fresh pomegranates or its juice and not the packaged juices available in the market.
These packaged juices contain added sugar, preservatives or filler fruits, offsetting any potential benefits and may even be harmful in the long run.
1) Skin care
Aging and damage due to environmental factors such as pollution, UV rays, etc. cause the skin to wrinkle and lose its smooth texture. Also, spots develop, and the skin becomes increasingly fragile.
The aging-related changes are caused partly due to free radicals. Since pomegranate seeds contain antioxidants which help to fight free radicals, they help to slow down the development of wrinkles and loosening on the skin.
Pomegranate juice also helps protect against UV rays induced damage when applied to the skin. It downregulates the production of inflammatory mediators in sun-damaged areas. (2)
2) Protect against Alzheimer’s disease
Polyphenols found in pomegranate seeds have memory and other cognitive benefits
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease. It is usually found in the elderly population. Alzheimer’s is characterized by an accumulation of A-beta protein and deposition of amyloid plaques in the brain.
Mice fed pomegranate juice have a 50% reduction in A-beta plaque accumulation. (3)
Another study conducted on senior citizens with memory problems showed significant improvement in visual and spatial memory. (4)
All these properties are likely related to free radical scavenging properties of the antioxidants found in pomegranate seeds.
3) Protect against cardiovascular disease
Compounds such as Granatin B and Punicalagin are found abundantly in the pomegranate. Studies suggest that punicalagin and tannins can be effective in reducing heart-disease risk factors by scavenging harmful free radicals from the human body.
Pomegranate seeds also lower blood pressure naturally. (5) This reduction in blood pressure can help prevent many complications of high blood pressure such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, kidney damage, stroke, hypertensive retinopathy, etc. in the long run.
Pomegranates also slow down the buildup of atherosclerotic plaques. The mechanism responsible for the anti-atherosclerotic effect is the prevention of LDL oxidation and foam cell development.
The oxidized form of LDL is the form deposited in atheromatous plaques. This effect was seen in a study done using natural pomegranate juice over one year.
The results showed decreased plaque deposition in the carotid arteries, which are two large arteries in the front of the neck supplying blood to the brain. (6)
4) Helpful in arthritis
Arthritis a painful condition characterized by inflammation of the joints. The release of inflammatory mediators like prostaglandins and histamine causes pain.
Pomegranates contain polyphenols, which act as anti-inflammatory agents. These help to reduce the inflammation surrounding joints and thus help in pain relief. (7)
Animal studies conducted using pomegranate juice have shown a significant reduction in joint inflammation (8).
Humankind has been on the lookout for natural aphrodisiacs since the dawn of time. Pomegranates have been associated with fertility in many cultures worldwide for centuries.
This association may have to do with the high content of vitamin E in pomegranates as vitamin E is necessary for fertility in both males and females.
Pomegranate increases the number of sperm and sperm motility. These changes lead to increased fertility. (9) Increased testosterone levels also improve mood and increase libido.
6) Anticancer effect
We all know that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetable is protective against various forms of cancer among other things. Pomegranate seeds are rich in polyphenols which have chemotherapeutic/chemopreventive potential, meaning they can treat or prevent neoplasms.
The anticancer activity of pomegranates is attributed to its high phenol content.
It has been shown to slow growth of prostate cancer. A study showed an increase in the doubling time of prostate specific antigen, which is a marker used for studying tumor progression and relapse.
Pomegranate induces antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic genes in cancer cells leading to the slowing of tumor growth. (10)
7) Antimicrobial effect
Apart from pomegranate seeds benefits, pomegranate peel has the property to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans. (11) C. Albicans is a fungus that commonly infects immunocompromised people. It is responsible for oral thrush.
Pomegranate peels also inhibit the growth of methicillin-resistant streptococcus (MRSA). MRSA is a multi-drug resistant superbug. The possibility of a natural treatment for this dangerous superbug is ground-breaking.
8) Antimalarial effect
Malaria is a disease caused by parasites of Plasmodium species. It presents with paroxysms of fever, sweating, and chills. Pomegranates cannot be used to cure malaria as of now.
But, they can reduce complications of malaria such as cerebral malaria. (12)
9) Wound healing
Wound healing involves different processes such as hemostasis (last for seconds to minutes) which involves clot formation to stop bleeding, inflammation (last for 3-5 days) where removal of debris and necrotic tissue takes place, proliferation (last for 4-14 days) which is the proliferation of skin cells from stem cells and formation of new blood vessels, and remodeling (lasts for 8 days to 1 year) which is restructuring of collagen and fibrous matrix to increase the strength of the wound.
Alcohol-based pomegranate extracts reduce the time required for wound healing. (13) The proposed mechanism leading to accelerated healing is a reduction in inflammatory cells and mediators at the site of injury.
Drug interactions and side effects of pomegranate seeds
Usually, consuming pomegranates seeds does not lead to any adverse effects other than a bit of constipation if consumed in large quantities. But certain things are to be kept in mind such as
Pomegranates seeds can potentially lower blood pressure, anyone who is currently taking medication for hypertension should always consult their doctor before consuming pomegranate products.
Commonly prescribed blood pressure medications include captopril, lisinopril, ramipril, amlodipine, metoprolol, nimodipine, thiazide diuretics, losartan, telmisartan, etc.
Pomegranate is rich in vitamin K and can potentially antagonize the effect of anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin or coumadin.
Post surgery patients who require prolonged bed rest are usually put on warfarin therapy. This interaction can cause serious problems such as clot formation in your blood vessels.
So, if you’re on anticoagulants, always consult your doctor before consuming pomegranates.
Pomegranates can also cause increased concentration of carbamazepine and tolbutamide in the blood. Carbamazepine is an anticonvulsant drug.
Tolbutamide is an anti-diabetic drug. Increased levels of these drugs can lead to serious side effects. Anyone currently taking these medications must consult their doctor before consuming pomegranates.
Over to you on pomegranate seeds
As you have seen that pomegranate seeds have a large number of potential health benefits and including them in your diet will be beneficial.
A pomegranate can be consumed in a wide variety of ways such as in the form of juice, along with oats, in salads, or directly in their ripe form.
Apart from several health benefits of pomegranate seeds, this fruit interacts with certain common medications such as antihypertensives and anticoagulants.
If you are on these medications, then you should always consult your doctor before consuming products which contain pomegranate.