Pomegranate: It seems like a good place to start!

Trying to decide what to write about in my first blog post was proving a little bit of a challenge. Taking a hint from my blog name, I’m diving in with a post about the delicious pomegranate. I haven’t always been a pomegranate lover but lately I’ve been enjoying adding the seeds into my breakfast oats or lunchtime salads (despite the fact that I still have not mastered a tidy and efficient way to get the seeds away from the rind!).

The pomegranate is not only nutritious; it also has history of use in herbal medicine. Lets explore the delightful pomegranate!

The Plant

  • The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a shrub or tree that can grow up to 6 metres (20 feet) tall but the part you probably recognise is the round leathery looking fruit that you see in the supermarket1.
  • It’s native to south western Asia but has been naturalised in Europe1.

Herbal Medicine**

  • Although the rind, root and bark were used in some traditional folk remedies, this is no longer the case due to its potential toxicity5 (constituents called alkaloids are what make these parts potentially toxic1). Use of the rind, root and bark should be avoided4. In some countries legal restrictions apply to the use of pomegranate as herbal medicine1.
  • Today, pomegranate juice is known for having positive effects on the heart and circulation1. The parts used in modern herbal medicine are the fruit and seed5.

Nutrition**

  • Pomegranate is a source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, potassium and has several phytonutrients2.
  • A 282g pomegranate contains roughly 11.3g dietary fibre, 28.8mg vitamin C, 0.2mg B1 (Thiamin), 0.1mg B2 (Riboflavin), 0.8mg B3 (Niacin), 28.2mg calcium, 102mg phosphorus, 0.8mg iron, 0.4mg copper, 666mg potassium and 46.2mcg vitamin K3.
  • These nutrients can create anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral and hypotensive activity2.
  • Despite all it’s nutritional benefits, don’t forget that pomegranate juice also contains simple sugars so apply moderation to your intake4. A simple sugar, such as glucose, fructose or sucrose, is a form of carbohydrate that contains one or two sugar molecules7. The suggested serving size for pomegranate juice is 4 to 6 fl oz, no more than twice a day4.

Research

  • Due to its rich antioxidant content pomegranate juice has shown some benefit when fighting atherosclerosis (the build up of plaque in the arteries) by reducing plaque formation and improving arterial health4. The antioxidants found in pomegranate juice include soluble polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins4.
  • A literature review conducted in 2011 concluded that whilst pomegranate juice appeared to decrease systolic blood pressure and therefore create an overall positive effect on the progression of atherosclerosis, due to the limited number of studies further clinical research was required to verify these effects6.

There you have it – a brief overview of some of the benefits of the pomegranate. And if you’re anything like me, don’t get frustrated the next time you slice open a pomegranate and spend what seems like, quite frankly, an eternity extracting the seeds. Instead, think of all the juicy nutrients and potential health benefits you’ll receive once you finally sink your teeth into the delicious fruit!

 

**Whilst it is great to be passionate about maintaining your health, you should never self medicate and always ensure that you consult a medical or health professional before including a new item in your diet or health routine.

 

References:

  1. Chevallier, A 2016, Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Third Edition, DK Publishing, New York
  2. Cinahl Information Systems 2015, Pomegranate, viewed 30 January 2017, ebscohost.com
  3. Condé Nast 2014, ‘Pomegranates, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories’, Nutrition Data, viewed 30 January 2017, http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2038/2#
  4. Murray, MT and Pizzorno, JE 2012, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition, Atria Paperback, New York, New York
  5. University of Maryland Medical Center 2016, Pomegranate, viewed 30 January 2017, http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/pomegranate
  6. Bell Stowe, C 2011, ‘The effects of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure and cardiovascular health’, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, vol.17, viewed 17 February 2017, elsevier.com/locate/ctcp
  7. Whitney, E, Rolfes, SR, Crowe, T, Cameron-Smith, D and Walsh, A 2014, Understanding Nutrition Australia and New Zealand Edition, 2nd Edition, Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, Victoria
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