Phenomenal Fruit: The Health Benefits of the Pomegranate
When translated from its Latin origins, the word “pomegranate” literally means seeded apple. An ancient and highly regarded fruit, the pomegranate has accompanied man from the hanging gardens of Babylon to ancient Egypt. The pomegranate is thought to be the “apple” that is responsible for exiling Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. In Judaism, pomegranate seeds are said to number 613- one seed for each commandment in the Torah. In Christianity, the fruit symbolizes resurrection and life. In Buddhism the pomegranate is one of the three “blessed fruits”. In ancient Chinese society the seeds symbolized longevity and immortality and in traditional Chinese medicine, pomegranate preparations including its roots, tree bark, juice and dried peels, have been used to treat acidosis, hemorrhage, diarrhea, and microbial infections. Greek and Persian mythologies regard the fruit as representing life, regeneration and marriage.
Clearly, the pomegranate has long been viewed as a powerful and mystical fruit and it is because of man’s fascination with the fruit that we remain intrigued by it. Fortunately, the health benefits of the pomegranate are more than mere mythology. In fact, scientific research has shed light on some of the potential health benefits of pomegranate consumption.
It is the phytochemical content of the pomegranate that allows the fruit to have a positive impact on human health ranging from skin disorders to cardiovascular health, sexual health, diabetes and even oral health. Furthermore, pomegranates are abundant in anthocyanins and possess strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Listed below are three positive health benefits that accompany pomegranate consumption.
One study published in the International Journal of Research in 2012 found that pomegranate extracts and pomegranate juice may be beneficial for preventing oral disease due to its ability to inhibit tooth decay and plaque development.
A study published in the Journal of Cancer Therapy in 2011 found the pomegranate peel to be a promising source of cancer preventing agents because of its high phenolic content. The anticancer properties of pomegranates have been further supported by additional research and the fruit extracts have been found to slow the growth of cancer cells.
Multiple studies have also been performed analyzing the effects of pomegranate consumption on prostate cancer. Pomegranate has been shown to significantly reduce prostate tumor growth and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in mice.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2007 found that pomegranate leaf extract had a significant anti-obesity effect on the development of diet-induced obesity within lab mice. Not only did it reduce body weight but it also inhibited the development of hyperlipidemia.
In addition to the aforementioned potential health benefits, pomegranates are a good source of fiber which is important for maintaining intestinal health. They are also a good source of vitamin C and potassium and help to maintain healthy vision, a healthy heart, and a healthy immune system.
So if you haven’t had the great fortune to try a pomegranate, give it a go! Pomegranates are in-season and available at your local grocery store between the months of October through January. Unsure of how to remove the seeds from a pomegranate? Click here.
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