Monday, September 29, 2014

5 Health Benefits of Pomegranate Fruit

'Tis the season of pomegranates!  The fall and winter months from October to January mark prime pomegranate season.  This delicious "super-fruit" has been around since ancient times and is growing in popularity due to its abundant health benefits.

The delicious ruby-red edible gems found inside the pomegranate are used in cooking, baking, smoothies, juice blends, and alcoholic beverages such as cocktails and wine. 

If you are not currently adding pomegranate fruit to your meals or drinking its wonderful juice, perhaps these 5 health benefits will convince you to start.

 Fights Cancer
Numerous studies conclude that pomegranates may fight cancer due to the jam-packed concentration of antioxidants found in the sweet fruit.  Antioxidants protect the body from disease and contain anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties.  Studies have suggested the ellagitannins found in pomegranates may have a potential role in decreasing certain cancers such as prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer.  According to a study from the National Cancer Institute, human prostate cancer cells can be treated with components of the pomegranate fruit to inhibit cell growth.  Furthermore, "pomegranate extracts have also been shown to inhibit the proliferation of human prostate cancer cells in vitro."  
The full study provided by the National Cancer Institute from June 2014 can be found via:

  Promotes Heart Health
Laboratory studies reveal the rich antioxidant content of pomegranate fruit decreases inflammation and thickening of the artery walls.  Studies also indicate the addition of pomegranate to a well-balanced diet may promote heart health by decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) aka "bad" cholesterol in the blood, reduce the buildup of cholesterol and arterial plaque, improve blood flow to the heart, and lower systolic blood pressure. 
  Dental Health
Pomegranate helps keep those "pearly whites" healthy because it is effective against oral bacteria and has an antimicrobial activity.  Pomegranates contain powerful antioxidants including polyphenols, tannins, ellagic acid and anthocyanins which inhibit the formation of dental plaque, prevent acid formation, and reduce adherence of bacteria and microorganisms on our teeth.  Studies published by the National Institute of Health provide evidence to support pomegranate is active against oral bacteria and has an antimicrobial activity.  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3530267/)
  Weight Management
Raw pomegranate seeds are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins.  One serving (1/2 cup) provides approximately 70 calories, 1 gram of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 3.5 grams of fiber.  Pomegranate seeds and other fiber-rich foods such as whole grains assist individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  The amount of vitamin C and vitamin K is also very good.  Vitamin C keeps your immune system healthy and vitamin K keeps your bones healthy and strong.   
  Boosts Digestive Health

The "seeded apple" is high in fiber and may prevent constipation and gas.  Digestive health may be improved because foods high in fiber promote smooth, easy digestion which in turn increases the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals along the digestive tract.  As a result, you may have improved digestion and overall health!   
Conclusion 
There are plenty of ways to incorporate pomegranate into your diet including adding it to your favorite dessert, smoothie recipe, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, or cottage cheese.  Pure, unsweetened pomegranate juice is a very common alternative that can be diluted with a small amount of water if the flavor is too pungent.
The pomegranate fruit is a "super-food" packed with nutrients and offers fantastic health benefits.  If you haven't started to incorporate this sweet food into your daily diet, I highly recommend you give it a try! 
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.  ~Hippocrates



 


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