Heart Health Benefits of Pomegranates
Pomegranates are messy, sometimes hard to find at your grocer (they’re primarily in season September to January), and tend to be more expensive than a peach or apple. However, the proven heart health benefits of pomegranates might just make this a purchase you want to consider anyway.
Pomegranates are delicious but can be awkward to eat. The seeds are considered edible…but are they really? They’re also one of the messiest fruits you’ll ever have the pleasure of enjoying. The time it takes to eat it could range from an hour to an entire day and that’s not including the time to get the bright red stains off your fingers.
Buying the pure juice can be pricey. You can make it yourself but it takes approximately 3-4 pomegranates to make about 6 ounces of fresh juice and you will still have something of a mess to deal with. [There are all kinds of amazing videos online on how make the juice if you have a massive pomegranate supply and don’t have a full decade to enjoy them all.]1
The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing shrub or small tree native to Iran and India. They’ve been cultivated in drier regions since ancient civilizations. It’s only been in the last decade or so that the incredible health benefits of pomegranates made them insanely popular in the health community. For excellent reasons.
First and Foremost: HEART HEALTH
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women globally. In 2012 alone, more than 17.7 million people died from cardiovascular disease around the world according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That is the equivalent of 31% of all deaths from all causes.2
This is a staggering statistic that should make everyone sit up and take notice.
Experts agree that more than half of all heart disease and stroke cases in people under the age of 65 are preventable. Preventable deaths in people over the age of 65 have been declining in recent years but those happening in younger people have remained unchanged.3
No matter your age, you probably know the healthy lifestyle changes that will protect your heart. Choices you make right now, today, can protect your heart for decades to come. You can avoid being part of that 31% statistic!
Top 7 Healthy Lifestyle List
- Eat a colorful diet of whole foods
- Avoid excess sugars, salts, garbage fats, and chemical preservatives
- Control your body weight
- Quit smoking and other tobacco use
- Limit alcohol intake
- Exercise every day (even low-impact)
- Get plenty of quality sleep daily
Do your own research and you’ll find that of all these habits, experts around the globe agree that diet has more impact on your long-term health than any other factor.
They might split hairs about healthy fat vs garbage fat, real sugar vs fake sugar, and a diet filled with grains vs gluten-free – but there is no doubt that DIET MATTERS.
The long-standing tables of what we’ve been assured was “healthy” are being steadily overturned by new science that debunks the claims made by the food industry (and backed by the medical community) for several decades.
With new ideas and new research has come the discovery of whole foods that feed your cells and assist hundreds of critical systems inside you. Pomegranate health benefits are emerging as strong helpers in the health of your heart.
Johns Hopkins summarized their review of pomegranate studies by saying, “Pomegranate juice is rich in tannins, possesses anti-atherosclerotic properties, has anti-aging effects, and potent anti-oxidative characteristics. Pomegranate juice consumption may reduce systolic blood pressure, inhibits serum ACE activity, and is convincingly a heart-healthy fruit.”4
Heart disease has many contributing factors and pomegranate juice seems to have an effect on the biggest ones
In one study, participants who presented with high LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides saw an improvement in both within a month. It also raised the HDL “good” cholesterol. Another showed that pomegranate juice prevented oxidation of LDL particles. It enhances blood flow, which is excellent for the heart and overall energy.
In a small study of less than 20 patients with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), one group was given a cup of pure pomegranate juice each day. Within three months, the participants had a dramatic 13% decrease in carotid artery thickness which continued to improve over a year to a 35% decrease. The control group who didn’t drink the showed a 9% increase in carotid thickness.5
In addition, patients who began the study (with an average systolic pressure of 174) experienced a consistent 12-point average drop in the juice group that ended up being more than 20-points lower by year-end (to an average systolic pressure of 152).
To review…drinking one cup daily of pomegranate juice benefits your artery health, lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, lowers triglycerides, appears to reverse existing damage, and boosts overall health.6 Your heart needs this good stuff!
That’s Not All!
It’s not just your heart that feels better when you add this incredible fruit to your diet!
- Pomegranates are powerful at lowering inflammation. Since inflammation is a bio-marker in all major diseases, this is a big deal. They’ve been shown particularly effective in lowering inflammatory markers for those who suffer from digestive distress, heart disease, and arthritis.
- Pomegranates are effective at lowering inflammation found in many types of cancer cells (prostate, breast, and colorectal), which may help to prevent or slow tumor growth.
- Pomegranate juice helped to increase bone mass in laboratory animals (which helps to lower the risk of breaks and fractures).
- Just a small amount was shown to improve memory skills and overall cognition in both healthy patients and those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
- They stimulate estrogen and serotonin receptors that help improve mood.
- The health benefits of pomegranates include being naturally anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial. This effect works with your own immune system to ward off harmful invaders that lead to infections.
- They’re packed with antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, potassium, vitamin K, fiber, protein, and bioactive plant polyphenols. In fact, pomegranates have the most powerful antioxidant profiles of all fruits. The high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids makes them the ideal choice for a pop of nutrition.
- The bioactive compounds (punicalagins and punicic acid) are higher in pomegranates than those found in green tea, berries, or red wine.7,8,9
Drug Interaction to Know
The Mayo Clinic had this to say, “Pomegranate juice may cause dangerous side effects when it interacts with certain prescription medications, such as the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, including captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril).”10
If you currently take these types of medications, make sure you talk to your doctor!
What Are Your Thoughts?
Pomegranates keep for a long time if they’re refrigerated. However, if you can’t find them locally, keep the health benefits of pomegranates in juice form in mind. It’s available year-round, stores well, is much more convenient, and gives you a daily dose of some of the best disease fighters you’ll find. Make sure you buy pure juice with no added sugars!
1Start Cooking: How To: Pomegranate
2World Health Organization: Cardiovascular Disease
3 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Preventable Deaths from Heart Disease & Stroke
4Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing: The effects of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
5Life Extension Magazine: Pomegranate
6Mayo Clinic: Can drinking pomegranate juice help lower my cholesterol?
7Express: Pomegranate a day keeps middle-age at bay
8Health Line: 12 Health Benefits of Pomegranate
9Live Strong: Pomegranate Juice & Vitamin C
10Mayo Clinic: Can drinking pomegranate juice help lower my cholesterol?