Health Benefits of Pomegranate Seeds and Juice
Whether fresh or dried, pomegranate seeds are a real superfood with a multitude of health benefits. Also the bright red juice extracted from the pomegranate fruit has been proven to possess medicinal properties in a number of studies. Let's take a look at some of the most interesting – and best-researched – health effects of pomegranate arils (the collective name for pomegranate seeds and the sweet juicy sacs that surround them) and pomegranate juice.
Proven Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Viral Properties
Prepare for the next flu season by incorporating some pomegranate seeds or juice into your current common cold prevention diet. Not only does pomegranate help boost your immune system due to its strong antioxidant properties, it may also help fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
In 2009, a group of scientists from the University of Texas set out to investigate the effects of pomegranate polyphenol extract (PPE) on human influenza A (Hong Kong H3N2). Not only did PPE show significant anti-viral and anti-influenza properties in vitro, it was also capable of boosting the anti-influenza effects of oseltamivir, an anti-viral drug marketed under the trade name Tamiflu. The polyphenol punicalagin was found to be the effective, anti-influenza component of the pomegranate extract, even though the extract also contained other polyphenols such as ellagic acid, caffeic acid, and luteolin. This study appeared in the December 2009 issue of the journal Phytomedicine.
In another in vitro study, researchers evaluated the interaction between pomegranate extract and five antibiotics (chloramphenicol, gentamicin, ampicillin, tetracycline, and oxacillin) against Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus, or S. aureus for short, is a common cause of skin infections (such as boils, pimples, impetigo, and cellulitis folliculitis), respiratory diseases (such as sinusitis), and food poisoning. The pomegranate extract used in this study was found to dramatically enhance the activity of all antibiotics tested. This study was published in the July 2005 issue of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology.
Give your health a real boost by jazzing up your morning oatmeal or smoothie with freeze-dried pomegranate, acai berries, and goji berries. Head to your local health food store to stock up on these antioxidant superstars, or check out Navitas Naturals' Certified Organic Superfruit Blend which contains all three superfoods in a concentrated, freeze-dried form.
Pomegranate Provides Beauty Benefits
Many of the health benefits of pomegranate seeds and juice have been attributed to their extremely strong antioxidant properties, but the antioxidants in pomegranate can also provide beauty benefits. Due to their ability to destroy free radicals, the antioxidants in pomegranate can help fight wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Antioxidant-rich fruits, such as pomegranate, also make a wonderful addition to anti-cellulite diets.
But the antioxidants in pomegranate are not the only reason you should add this superfood to your diet if you're looking to improve the health of your skin. The juicy portion of the pomegranate fruit also provides a good amount of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps form collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are structural proteins that give your skin support and elasticity.
Pomegranate is Good for Your Cardiovascular System
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death in the U.S., taking hundreds of thousands of lives each year. But a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that at least 200,000 of the deaths from cardiovascular diseases could be prevented each year.
In addition to engaging in regular exercise, adopting healthier eating habits are one of the best ways to prevent or slow down the development of cardiovascular diseases. In essence, a cardioprotective diet is low in salt and saturated fats and rich in plant-based whole foods, particularly vegetables and fruits that are rich in antioxidants and fiber. Pomegranate seeds are supercharged with both fiber and antioxidants, which makes them a real superfood for men and women who are looking for natural ways to reduce their risk of CVD.
Furthermore, even though pomegranate juice is not a good source of fiber, it appears to be good for the heart. Preliminary laboratory studies and clinical trials suggest that pomegranate juice may help combat some of the most common CVD risk factors, including high levels of LDL cholesterol (that's the so-called "bad cholesterol"), high systolic blood pressure, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The cardioprotective effects of pomegranate extracts are thought to be largely attributable to their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Could Eating Pomegranate Cut Your Cancer Risk?
Pomegranate has also shown promise in the prevention of several types of cancer. In laboratory studies, pomegranate extracts have been shown to inhibit the growth of breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer cells. In animal studies using mice, consumption of pomegranate extract was found to inhibit the growth of skin, lung, prostate, and colon tumors.
Human studies investigating the potential of pomegranates to fight cancer have so far focused on prostate cancer, and the results have been promising: both pomegranate juice and pomegranate extract have been shown to prolong the PSA doubling time in men with a history of prostate cancer (for details, see How Pomegranates May Help Fight Prostate Cancer).
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