Pomegranates may be considered one of the most versatile fruits around. These juicy super fruits are high in many nutrients and essential vitamins that can help the body function well long-term.
Not only is the nutrient profile of pomegranates mighty impressive but eating them comes with a multitude of health benefits.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about pomegranates.
Did You Know?:One pomegranate can hold more than 1,000 seeds.
Table of Contents
- History & Facts
- Nutrition Facts
- Health Benefits
- Ways to Consume
- Potential Risks
- Frequently Asked Questions
History & Facts
Pomegranates (Punica granatum) are round fruits, typically featuring different shades of red-purple to reddish-brown colors. Their inner flesh is typically white with red juicy seeds spread throughout called arils. The arils are the edible portion of the fruit.
This delectable fruit is native to the middle east and is part of the Lythraceae family. However, pomegranate is categorized as a berry and it belongs to its own botanical family, Punicaceae. It is native to Iran and northern India and cultivated around the world (1).
Pomegranate was introduced into Spanish America in the late 16th century and moved into California by Spanish settlers in 1769. In Greek mythology, the pomegranate symbolizes death and fertility, known as the ‘fruit of the dead.’
Pomegranates stem from shrubs or small trees growing as much as 5 to 10 meters (16 to 33 feet) high (2). The fruit is typically in season in the Southern Hemisphere from March to May and in the Northern Hemisphere from September to February.
They are one of the most versatile fruits, not only because they can be stored for nearly two months in the refrigerator, but much more.
Did You Know?:The word pomegranate means apple with many seeds.
The nutrient profile of pomegranate is quite impressive with tons of nutrients that promote a healthy body.
In one whole pomegranate (weighing around 282 grams), there are the following macronutrients (3):
- Calories: 234 calories (kcal)
- Protein: 4.71 grams (g)
- Total fat: 3.3 grams (g)
- Carbohydrate: 52.7 grams (g)
- Fiber: 11.3 grams (g)
Overall, pomegranates are relatively low in calories and fat but high in fiber, making them a nutrient-dense food (4). Being a nutrient-dense food makes them an excellent choice to satisfy hunger and provide a great amount of fiber to the diet. Americans don’t typically get enough fiber in their diets. One pomegranate contains 11.3 grams of fiber, which is almost half of the RDA for fiber (recommended daily allowance) for adults. Eating a diet rich in fiber can help increase the feeling of fullness, reduce blood sugar spikes, lower cholesterol, and promote gut health. They also contain a decent amount of protein.
Summary:Pomegranates are relatively low in calories and high in fiber, making them a nutrient-dense food.
Vitamins and Minerals
Below are the vitamins and minerals for the arils in one average (282-gram) pomegranate fruit (5):
- Calcium: 28.2 milligrams (mg), or 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 0.85 milligrams (mg), or 5% of the DV
- Magnesium: 33.8 milligrams (mg), or 8% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 102 milligrams (mg), or 8% of the DV
- Potassium: 666 milligrams (mg), or 13% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 28.8 milligrams (mg), or 32% of the DV
- Folate (vitamin B9): 107 micrograms (mcg), or 27% of the DV
- Choline: 21.4 milligrams (mg), or 3% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 46.2 micrograms (µg), or around 40% of the DV
Although pomegranate arils are small, as you can see they are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, as well as many other vital nutrients (6). Vitamin C is one of the most critical nutrients to ward off disease and viruses (7). Just eating one pomegranate gives you over 1/3 of the daily recommended dose of vitamin C for the day, providing 28 mg of vitamin C (8).
Vitamin K also plays an essential role in keeping your immunity up by boosting vitamin D production in the body. Taking vitamin D in combination with vitamin K2 helps to boost absorption and enhance bone health (9).
Summary:Pomegranates are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, especially for how small they are. They are most known for being high in antioxidants.
In addition to the tons of nutrients they contain, pomegranates are highly known for their health benefits.
They May Promote Digestive Health
During the last few years, more and more research suggests that digestive health is strongly determined by gut bacteria and is linked to overall health (10). Recent studies have found that pomegranates have anti-inflammatory and prebiotic effects which can promote a healthy gut (11). Additionally, pomegranates are rich in fiber, with as much as 11 grams per every one while pomegranate. Fiber is an essential part of digestive health and can help promote activity in the gut like having regular bowel movements.
Additionally, a greater intake of dietary fiber is associated with shifts in gut microbiome composition and a decrease in inflammatory markers (12). Dietary fibers offer many advantages to human health, such as reducing the risk of gastrointestinal diseases including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diverticular disease, functional constipation, fecal incontinence, and colorectal cancer (CRC) (13).
Summary:Pomegranates have been shown to promote healthy gut bacteria and keep a healthy digestive tract due to the high amount of fiber they contain.
They May Promote Heart Health
Have you ever heard that pomegranates are good for the heart? Well, it’s true! High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States and one of the main causes of heart disease and diabetes (14). Nearly half of the adults in the United States have high blood pressure. There’s good news. You can prevent high blood pressure and even lower existing hypertension by changing your diet. Pomegranate consumption reduces a certain enzyme called the Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) (15). That protein helps to control blood pressure by altering the size of blood vessels in the body.
Pomegranate juice can be even more potent to help prevent high blood pressure and even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (16). Furthermore, pomegranates are a great source of polyphenols. Studies on polyphenols have been found to reverse atherosclerosis as well as vascular inflammation (17). If you have a history of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, adding more foods like pomegranate can help to decrease your risk of this chronic disease.
Summary:Eating pomegranates cause enzymes that control blood pressure to decrease, therefore promoting healthy blood pressure and further reducing the risk of heart disease.
They Are Full of Antioxidants
As noted, pomegranates are rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. Polyphenols help improve clinical symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis (18). Furthermore, antioxidants protect against damage in cells that can cause cancer growth.
Antioxidants are helpful because they help to reduce the number of free radicals in the body and decrease overall inflammation. Free radicals can cause cell damage and harm DNA and increase inflammatory cell markers in the body.
Decreasing overall inflammation may help with decreasing the number of harmful cells in the body being produced called reactive oxygen species (19). This can help treat symptoms of chronic inflammation like body pain, fatigue, weight gain, mental health, and infections.
Getting antioxidants from vegetables and fruits such as pomegranates is a great way to support overall health and help prevent disease.
Summary:Because pomegranates contain polyphenols in addition to other antioxidants, eating them can protect cells in the body and overall help lower inflammation.
Ways to Consume
Pomegranates can be labor-intensive to remove from the arils of the fruit, but the reward is well worth the investment.
There are many ways to enjoy pomegranates as a snack on their own or even in many of your favorite meals.
You can try:
- Enjoy pomegranate seeds on their own as is
- Toss into your favorite salad. They pair excellently with cheeses like feta, parmesan, and goat cheese.
- Make some refreshing pomegranate juice
- Top them on your favorite breakfast foods like cereal, oatmeal, and even yogurt
- Garnish your favorite desserts like ice cream, cheesecake, or even pie
- Add them as a garnish to a savory entrée like baked chicken
- Make the pomegranate juice into a marinade by juicing the seeds
- Mix into baked goods like scones, breads, and muffins
- Add to your favorite cocktail for a refreshing bite
Feel free to get creative and try something new using these ideas if you need to.
Fun Fact:Ancient writings described the pomegranate as a sacred fruit that provided fertility, abundance, and luck.
In general, pomegranates are part of a balanced diet. However, there are some potential risks to be aware of:
- People with digestive issues: If you have chronic constipation, eating a large amount of pomegranates increases the risk of an intestinal blockage. Diarrhea may occur in a small number of people (20).
- Allergic-like reactions: Allergic reactions to pomegranate have been reported. Additionally, similar reactions may occur if eating beyond the seeds. Pomegranate root, stem, and peel may not be safe when consumed in large amounts because they contain substances that can have harmful effects (21).
- Consuming too much: If you are to consume too much pomegranate extract, it is possible to experience runny nose, swelling, itching, and even difficulty breathing (21).
Pomegranate is typically safe, especially if you consume the seeds in moderation. Eating pomegranate seeds can be a healthy way to add more diversity to your diet.
Fun Fact:China is typically the largest consumer of pomegranate over the year.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know when a pomegranate is ripe?
Pomegranates are round but are not typically a perfect-sized ball. Look for flat, angular sides rather than perfectly rounded spheres. Instead of looking for color, the ripeness of pomegranates can be seen in its skin, by looking for smoothness yet feeling firmness. Lastly, a ripe pomegranate should feel heavy for its size. This indicates that the pomegranate is ready to be eaten and its seeds are full of goodness.
What’s the easiest way to cut a pomegranate?
Cutting a pomegranate can seem tricky, especially if it’s your first time. But don’t let that scare you away from eating it! You can start by cutting off the end of the pomegranate including the stem. Cut off just enough to reveal some of the seeds. You will see that the pomegranate seeds are divided into natural sections that are separated by the white pith in between the seeds.
Using a knife, lightly score down all of the lengths of the pith of the pomegranate, about ¼ inch deep from bottom to top. Once this is done, you should be able to crack open the pomegranate with your hands. Discard the white pith and use your fingertips to pop out the seeds. Sometimes it’s easy to submerge it in water to peel the seeds out.
Should You Eat the Whole Pomegranate Seed?
When eating pomegranate seeds, you may notice a slight crunchy center seed when you chew them. The entire pomegranate aril and seed is edible and the extra crunch gives eating it a fun texture. Some people do prefer to just suck the juice off the seed and spit out that seed, but in doing this key nutrients like fiber and vitamins are missed.
Did You Know?:Pomegranates are considered to be one of the healthiest fruits in the world.
If pomegranate is not already on the top of your list for fruits, it should be! Pomegranate is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and even contains some protein. It is extremely versatile and easy to add to many meals and snacks, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Not only is it delicious, but eating it can be especially beneficial for many areas of the body. With improving digestive and heart health, there are so many downstream effects that can
Where can you start adding more of this super fruit to your diet today?