Pomegranates might seem like an exotic fruit, but they are one worth incorporating into your diet. Not only are the tiny, juicy seeds delicious to eat and low in calories, they provide a variety of natural health benefits.
What can eating pomegranates do to reduce your risk for disease and boost your overall health?
Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants. These best known for their potential to reduce a person’s risk for cancer, but their ability to fight cell damage improves overall health. Eating pomegranates is also believed to reduce a person’s risk for heart disease and reduce cholesterol. Pomegranates also provide digestive relief and ease the symptoms of diarrhea.
The fruit is also a great addition to a weight management plan because they are low in calories and make a convenient snack. Best of all, the juice from pomegranate seeds is just as beneficial as eating the entire seed. This means if you cannot or prefer not to munch on the seeds, drinking the juice provides the same, if not more, health benefits. Juicing a pomegranate allows you to reap the benefits that are released from the peel (which you cannot eat), where the majority of antioxidants are stored.
Pomegranates and Breast Cancer
Research has shown that three specific components in pomegranate juice are “… effective and non-toxic alternatives or adjuncts to the use of conventional selective estrogen receptor modulators for breast cancer prevention and treatment.” In addition to inhibiting growth of the breast cancer cells, pomegranate juice increases cancer cell adhesion and decreases cancer cell migration without affecting healthy cells. Additionally, studies show pomegranate juice inhibits chemotaxis of cancer cells that attract breast cancer cells to bone. Finally, pro-inflammatory cytokines or chemokines are significantly reduced by pomegranate juice, which hopefully means consuming it can decrease inflammation and its impact on cancer progression.
Pomegranates and Heart Disease
Another study showed that when patients affected by carotid artery stenosis drank pomegranate juice it affected the progression of the carotid lesions, and improved oxidative stress and blood pressure. Ten patients participated in the study, half of whom were supplemented with pomegranate juice for one year and the other half for up to three years. All study participants saw a significant improvement in LDL cholesterol levels. Their systolic blood pressure was also reduced by more than 20%. The patients who continued to be monitored after three years saw no additional improvements, but did maintain the positive results experienced within the first year. Researchers believe the positive results were due to the antioxidant components in pomegranate juice.
Risks of Consuming Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranates are a great addition to just about any diet, but it is possible for some people taking certain medications to experience negative effects from eating the fruit or drinking the juice. If you are taking any medications, be sure to ask your doctor if pomegranates and pomegranate juice are safe for you. This is even more important if you plan to use pomegranate juice supplements that supply strong concentrations of the fruit.