While they may be one of the trickiest foods to eat, pomegranates are worth the blood, sweat, tears and jackhammer it may take to open them. They're packed with nutrients that do everything from protecting your heart to making your skin glow.
Pomegranates are the fruit of a shrub, Punica granatum, that's native to Iran. Today, pomegranates are able to be grown throughout the world, making them available year round. To get to the good stuff, you need to open the hard, shell-like exterior of the pomegranate fruit to access the arils -- those red, juicy seeds in the middle that are pressed for juice and oil.
First a foremost, pomegranates just taste good, but here are 10 more reasons to add more of this superfood to your routine:
1. Immunity Booster -- Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants called polyphenols that support a strong immune system response, fighting off free radicals that can make you sick by weakening the immune system.
2. Weight Loss -- Pomegranate seed oil has been shown to help reduce white adipose tissue (fat) in humans when combined with brown seaweed extract in a proprietary blend known as Xanthigen. This combination speeds up the metabolism and is safe to take for long periods of time to lose weight and maintain results.
3. Anti-Aging Benefits -- All of those antioxidants packed into pomegranates shield the body's cells from free radical damage, which causes aging. Pomegranate can protect the tissues of the body, like the skin and hair, from damage that can speed up the aging process, keeping you looking youthful.
4. Digestive Health -- In addition to vitamins and minerals, pomegranates are a great source of natural fiber to keep the digestive system moving and prevent bloating and constipation.
5. Prostate Support -- For men looking to reduce their risk for prostate cancer while maintaining proper function of the prostate gland, pomegranates are the way to go. According to a study published in the April 2007 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch, pomegranate juice slowed the growth of cancerous tumors in both laboratory mice and humans.
6. Heart Protection -- Published in that issues of Harvard Men's Health Watch was a study that found that pomegranate juice slowed the development of plaque in the arteries of mice. The juice also contributed to less thickness of the carotid artery and improved blood flow.
7. Reduce Inflammation -- Consuming pomegranate juice supports a healthy inflammatory response. Inflammation can trigger everything from a headache to pain in the joints and an outbreak of certain skin conditions like psoriasis.
8. Lower Blood Pressure -- Pomegranate juice may help bring down systolic blood pressure in patients with coronary artery disease, according to a 2008 study published in the medical journal Clinical Nutrition, which credits the high amount of polyphenols within the pomegranate for this benefit.
9. Diabetes Prevention -- A study conducted at the University of Houston found that pomegranate seed oil can help improve insulin sensitivity, a key step in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
10. Skin Rejuvenation -- According to researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School, pomegranate seed oil encourages the cells found in both the dermis and epidermis layers of the skin to regenerate for improved tone and texture and an overall fresher appearance.
You can get the benefits of pomegranate in many forms. Aside from eating the whole fruit when it's in season, juices offer the benefits without the work. You can also find teas, capsules and topical skincare products that all contain pomegranate juice, oil or both. As always, when using a pomegranate supplement for medicinal purposes, consult with your physician first if you're currently being treated for a diagnosed medical condition.
Shop for great pomegranate products at eVitamins and we'll be back next week with another amazing supplement to learn about!