(By Mahnoor Khalid*, Umm-e-Habiba*, Mujahid Ali**)
(*Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, UOS; **Horticulture, UOS)
Pomegranate is one of the world’s oldest known fruit and has long been considered a symbol of health and fertility. Pomegranates have been a popular fruit in the Middle East, Asia, and India throughout history but in recent have become very popular in other regions of the world, China is now one of the largest producers of this beneficial fruit and it is famous also because of their many health benefits and outstanding nutritional value. It is also one of the most beneficial fruit to consume. After splitting apart the pomegranate’s tough outer layer complex chamber of red seeds lies in it. These small seeds are the only part of the pomegranate that is edible, but a numerous study proves their nutritional value is considerably greater than what you might expect.
Research indicates that pomegranates reduce artherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) which is the leading cause of heart disease and cancer the two very common chronic diseases in Pakistan. Pomegranate inhibits many forms of cancer, especially the prostate, breast, lung, and skin cancer. A 2012 study reports that cytotoxic activities of pomegranate extract are used for the treatment of prostate cell line by induction of apoptosis. A 2014 study published in Molecular Carcinogenesis highlights the anti-proliferative effects of pomegranate extract in breast cancer cells. According to a study published in experimental dermatology in June 2009, pomegranate juice and oils can protect our skin from solar radiations, thereby help to guard us against skin cancer associated with excessive sun exposure. The results from the researchers show that the anthocyanin and tannins present in pomegranate provide effective antioxidant and anti-tumor properties. These same properties also provide anti-aging benefits and can protect us from the degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis.
A study published in the journal of inflammation in January 2009 found that pomegranate juice can inhibit the inflammatory activity of the excess mast cells. (Mast cells are the cells present naturally in the body and play an important protective role but can become an aggressive inflammatory force when imbalanced). The researcher’s results proved to pomegranates concentrations of naturally occurring antioxidants.
Studies have shown that the regular intake of pomegranates and pomegranate juice can reduce LDL cholesterol in both animals and humans. A study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2000, discovered that pomegranate juice help to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in humans. Excess LDL cholesterol is one of the biggest sources of coronary heart diseases, which is the most common type of heart disease in the united states.
By keeping our blood pressure in control has been found to reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke. UK’s Express, researchers at “Queen Margaret University in Edinburg found that people who consume 500ml of pomegranate juice every day for four weeks had unsaturated fatty acids in a lower quantity which are commonly linked to the storage of abdominal fat. A 2011 study published in complementary therapies in clinical practices tells us that pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces blood pressure.
Pomegranate that stimulates estrogen and serotonin receptors in the body, thereby boosting our mood and reducing feelings of sadness and depression than why many people feel better after eating a pomegranate, there’s a good reason, researchers even suggest that long-term consumption of pomegranates and pomegranate products could regulate serotonin level in the brain and can treat low moods caused by chemical imbalances.
Pomegranates are surprisingly rich in nutrients. In fact, their seeds contain more fiber and minerals than many other more popular fruits. A 100g serving of pomegranate seed provides 18.7g carbohydrates,13.67g sugars,1.17g fat,11g dietary fiber and 1.67g of protein. For example, one whole pomegranate contains about 11grams of dietary fiber (this is twice the amount of fiber of an average sized banana) 29 milligrams of vitamin C and 46 micrograms of vitamin K. In all three instances, these numbers average at about 50% of our daily intake recommendation. Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium (a powerful mineral that optimizes the nervous system, regulates metabolism and maintains healthy kidney function), folate, manganese, selenium, and zinc are other nutrients found in this nutritious fruit. The pomegranate is also a reliable source of omega-6 fatty acids.
Like all other fruits, pomegranates are best for health benefits when eaten raw. While purchasing them, select organic pomegranates that you feel heavy for their size and have unblemished skin. These are the best quality pomegranates and they can be refrigerated for up to two months without affecting their nutritional value.