Pomegranates are a wonderful and popular fruit, and they are now being used in healthcare in many parts of the world owing to their numerous health benefits as well as nutritional value. As they are rich in Vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, pomegranates can help fight skin inflammation and treat acne breakouts and dark spots, giving you a glowing skin.
Studies show that eating pomegranates or drinking pomegranate juice can help boost men’s sexual health and protect against the growth of prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. These juicy fruits can also help women overcome depression during menstruation. As a low-calorie, high-fibre fruit, pomegranates can also be enjoyed by those who are on a diet.
Pomegranate seed oil is known to help eczema and psoriasis. Pomegranate syrup can be used to treat damaged cartilage, and it can also help protect babies from damage incurred during birth.
While they can be a pain to open, pomegranate seeds have healthy powers. We can all enjoy the benefits of this amazing fruit in the form of juice, sugary seeds, syrup, paste, oil or even peel and leaves. The seed pods, or arils, can be eaten raw as well as made into juice. The juice has a tart flavour. The arils can be added to savoury dishes, salads, hummus, oatmeal and smoothies, as well as desserts. The seeds of the pomegranate are also used to make oil, which has many health and cosmetic benefits.
This magic fruit tends to be at its best between September and February, so it’s ideal to add pomegranate seeds to your plate or beauty routine during the cooler months.
Here are some of the health benefits of pomegranates:
Reducing heart problems:
A regular intake of pomegranate juice can maintain a good flow of blood in the body and thus decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The antioxidant components in pomegranates help keep bad cholesterol from accumulating in the blood, keeping the arteries clear of clots.
Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice a day can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer and aid in the fight against existing cancer cells. Studies have shown that pomegranate juice can help prevent colon, lung, prostate and breast cancer cells from growing. The high level of anti-oxidants called flavonoids in the juice stimulates the white blood cells and neutralises toxins in the body.
Boosting skin health:
Pomegranates are packed with antioxidants like proanthocyanidins and flavonoids that work wonders for the skin by protecting it from free radicals and delaying the signs of ageing. They also promote the regeneration of healthy skin cells, preventing hyperpigmentation and recurring dark spots.
Pomegranates can also help boost the skin’s ability to protect itself from the sun, and this can be helpful in treating pigmentation issues. Eating a pomegranate a day can also help treat rosacea, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit that inhibit the inflammatory activity of some human skin cells.
Pomegranate juice is a good source of iron, and it works well in eliminating any iron deficiency in the body, thus reducing the symptoms of anaemia like exhaustion, dizziness, weakness and hearing loss. As a good source of Vitamin K, pomegranate juice helps in blood clotting, and the folic acid in it is required for healthy red blood cell formation.
Improving hair health:
The powerful antioxidants in pomegranates can strengthen the hair follicles, improve circulation to the scalp, and stimulate hair growth. Eating pomegranate seeds can help in reducing hair fall because the seeds, and especially the seed oil, contain punicic acid that makes the hair strong. The oil can also be used in hot-oil treatments for smoothing frizzy hair and conditioning curly and wavy hair. Pomegranate seed paste might also reverse greying.
Boosting digestive health:
Pomegranate seeds can boost digestive health as they contain B-complex Vitamins that help our bodies convert fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy. The seeds also contain fibre, another essential nutrient for good digestion that prevents and treats constipation as well. Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, the seeds can treat other gastrointestinal issues like ulcerative colitis. However, since pomegranates are an acidic fruit, they can aggravate certain digestive problems like heartburn and acid reflux.
Recent studies have shown that pomegranates work wonderfully well in strengthening gums and fastening loose teeth. They are also effective against oral bacteria as they possess antimicrobial properties. A gel made from the fruit has been found to be effective in treating gingivitis, while pomegranate seeds can have a positive effect on dental plaque.
Being rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, pomegranates are extremely healthy for those suffering from immune-related disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Pomegranates are also rich in Vitamin C, which boosts antibody production and helps in the development of immunity.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 17 December, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly