Without a doubt, they’re lovely. When you walk down the produce aisle, pomegranates tend to catch your eye, whether they are whole or just a container of fresh, ruby-red arils. But when you think about all the benefits they offer, their beauty isn’t just skin deep.
Julia Zumpano, RD, a registered dietitian, explains why these juicy, tasty fruits are a good addition to your diet and why the seeds are just as good as the juice.
Does pomegranate juice differ from pomegranate seeds?
Both pomegranate seeds and juice from the fruit are better than juice from a bottle, but they each have their own benefits. If you want to eat less sugar, don’t buy bottled pomegranate juice. Instead, cut open a pomegranate and eat the fruit inside. But be careful, there’s a trick to properly cutting the fruit open.
Here’s how to peel a pomegranate quickly and easily:
Hold the pomegranate so that the end of the stem that sticks out is facing one side. Cut a large piece of the crown away, leaving the stem in the middle. Then turn the fruit over so that the cut side is facing up.
You’ll see sections that spread out from the top, and another set that spreads out from the end of the stem. About two-thirds of the way down from the top, there is a ridge that separates the two sets.
Cut the pomegranate skin along the ridges that go from top to bottom and along the ridge that runs from left to right. Try to cut through the skin all the way to the white membrane, but stay away from the seeds.
Then, gently pull the pomegranate apart with your fingers. It will fall into a blossom-like star shape. Take out the juicy seeds with a spoon and throw away the white membrane, which tastes bad.
Pomegranates are good for your health.
Now that you know how to cut and dice pomegranates, here are some of the things you can do with them.
There are many antioxidants in them.
Antioxidants are chemicals that help protect cells from things like pollution and cigarette smoke that are bad for them. Antioxidants are known to help stop DNA damage that can lead to cancer and fix the damage that has already happened. Pomegranate juice alone won’t stop cancer, but studies show that it may be a healthy addition to a healthy plant-based diet like the Mediterranean diet.
They might help the health of the prostate
Some research found that parts of pomegranate juice helped stop cancer cells from moving by making them less attracted to a chemical signal that helps cancer spread.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that pomegranate juice seemed to stop cancer cells from growing and slow down the death of cancer cells in men and people who were assigned to be men at birth who had been treated for prostate cancer.
Zumpano says that some studies on pomegranate show that it may help slow the growth of prostate cancer. “But it should be noted that the studies suggest that pomegranate juice and pomegranate fruits should be part of a healthy plant-based diet.”
Other studies suggest that pomegranate peel extract could help fight cancer and that pomegranate peels could be used for other medical purposes.
They are good for your heart.
Pomegranates have been used as an Ayurvedic medicine food for thousands of years because they are high in antioxidants. Oxidative stress is linked to a number of long-term illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Some studies have found that pomegranates can improve oxidative stress factors because they have antioxidant properties. This means that pomegranates have a positive effect on these conditions.
Researchers did a thorough look at 10 of the most common fruits and how they affect heart diseases in 2022. They found that pomegranates and pomegranate juice can help with a number of heart problems, such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and atherosclerosis.
In another study done on rats in 2021, it was found that pomegranate juice decreased the amount of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that builds plaque, by 39% and increased the amount of HDL, the “good” cholesterol, by 27%.
“Some studies show that pomegranates might help keep plaque from building up in your arteries,” says Zumpano. “Adding pomegranate to your diet might be a good idea if heart disease runs in your family.”
Are they good for you?
All signs point to yes: adding pomegranates to a heart-healthy diet makes them healthy. You could put them on salads, oatmeal, quinoa, or yoghurt. Pomegranates also go well with dishes with chicken and turkey.
One serving of the fruit, which is in season from October to January, is half of a pomegranate. So you have a lot of time to make or try out a few recipes.