Pomegranate is a bright red fruit produced by deciduous shrubs of the pomegranate family. It originated in the Himalayas and is now widely planted all over the world.
Pomegranate has been used for thousands of years. It is in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings. It is described in records dating from around 1500 BCE as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasites.
Many cultures use pomegranate as a folk medicine. It is primarily cultivated in Mediterranean counties, parts of the United States, Afghanistan, Russia, India, China, and Japan. You’ll see pomegranate in some royal and medical coats of arms.
How does it work?
Pomegranate contains a variety of chemicals that might have antioxidant effects. Some preliminary research suggests that chemicals in pomegranate juice might slow the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and possibly fight cancer cells. But it is not known if pomegranate has these effects when people drink the juice.
Because red pomegranate is rich in fiber, vitamins and a variety of plant antioxidants, it has anti-arteriosclerosis, lowering blood pressure, and anti-inflammatory effects (Note 1). It has been regarded as a precious ingredient for both medicine and food since ancient times, also known as ruby in mobile medicine stores or fruits (the inner pulp and seeds are the more commonly eaten parts, and the peel is mostly used as a medicinal use).
What are the recommended benefits of pomegranate?
Pomegranate and anti-inflammatory
Inflammation plays a two-sided role as friend and foe in the human body. It can repair and clear cells when injured. However, long-term chronic inflammation is a common feature of many chronic diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and Cardiovascular diseases etc.
Many animal studies have found that pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants, which makes it have anti-inflammatory effects, and the mechanism behind it is related to the regulation of nuclear transcription factors NF-kB, PPARs and NSAIDs activated gene-1 (NAG-1). Note 2
A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (5 studies, 427 participants) showed that pomegranate juice had no significant effect on reducing C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels. Note 3
But it is worth noting that the sensitivity analysis found (removing a study not done in Iran) that pomegranate juice can still help reduce C-reactive protein, so it is speculated that genetic differences may also affect the experimental results.
Pomegranate and high blood pressure
Hypertension is currently the number one risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that 62% of cerebrovascular diseases and 49% of ischemic heart disease events are related to it, accounting for 20-50% of total deaths.
A regression analysis pointed out that for every 2 to 5-mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure, the risk of stroke can be reduced by 11.5% to 13%. Note 4
A systematic literature review and integrated analysis (Meta-analysis, including 8 studies, 574 participants) pointed out that pomegranate juice has blood pressure lowering effects (systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure) regardless of the difference in dosage and duration of use. Note 5
The underlying mechanism is related to reducing oxidative stress, improving vascular endothelial cell function and regulating angiotensin converting enzyme.
Pomegranate and dyslipidemia
Hyperlipidemia, similar to hypertension, is a silent killer of the cardiovascular system. It is often associated with metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity. It is also a major causative factor for coronary artery disease, peripheral artery obstruction and stroke.
One study found that gallic acid and linoleic acid (found in pomegranates) had potential lipid-lowering effects in animals fed a high-fat diet. Note 6
However, a systematic literature review and meta-analysis (12 studies, 545 participants) pointed out that pomegranate juice has no significant effect on improving human blood lipids (total cholesterol, low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides), and further confirmation is needed in more large studies. Note 7
Pomegranate and type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the world’s top three diseases. It usually starts after the age of 40. It is characterized by abnormal insulin action, leading to blood glucose imbalance.
But if you think that diabetes is just abnormal blood sugar metabolism, it is very wrong, because sugar is an important source of energy for the human body, can maintain the normal operation of the brain and other important organs, once glucose metabolism disorders, the most serious will be life-threatening.
A double-blind controlled study of 85 people with type 2 diabetes found that fresh pomegranate juice helped lower fasting blood sugar, improve islet beta cell function, and reduce insulin resistance (results were gender-agnostic but decreased with age). Note 8
Pomegranate and male sexual dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is generally common in men between the ages of 40 and 79, with a prevalence of about 50-70%. Related risk factors include smoking (41.4%), diabetes (27.1%), high blood pressure (17.3%), and hyperlipidemia (18.5%), perineal injury (5.1%), spinal injury (4.5%) and drug use. Note 9
Pomegranate, due to its rich antioxidant properties, has potential benefits (related to sexual function) in reducing fibrosis, improving nitric oxide utilization, and reducing atherosclerotic plaque. Notes 10
A double-blind controlled study (4 weeks, 53 patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction) found that the improvement in pomegranate juice, although not statistically significant (measured by the assessment questionnaire GAQ and the International Erectile Function Index IIEF), still had a positive effect on erectile function and needed to be further confirmed in larger cohort studies. Note 11
What Are the Pomegranate Side Effects?
Pomegranate tastes great and also offers a many benefits, but we also need to be aware of the pomegranate side effects, and the side effects of pomegranate juice.
- Effect of Enzymes
The enzymes present in pomegranate can hinder the functioning of certain enzymes present in the liver. If you are on any specific medication for liver disorders, consult your doctor before consuming pomegranate or pomegranate juice.
- High Sugar Content
Though it fights diabetes, pomegranate is a preventive fruit. If you are suffering from diabetes, then stay away from pomegranate, as it has a high content of sugar.
- High Calories
If you are on a diet and are watching your calorie intake, then avoid taking this fruit or its juice. Pomegranate adds up calories to the plate, it can also cause weight gain.
- Digestive Disorders
The excessive consumption of pomegranate or pomegranate juice causes many disorders. Some of them are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. But these symptoms usually subside after a few hours. Excessive consumption of pomegranate can also irritate the gastrointestinal tract.
The consumption of pomegranate or pomegranate juice also causes many symptoms that lead to allergy. The symptoms are painful swallowing, rashes, hives, facial swelling difficulty in breathing, pain and swelling in the mouth.
- Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and those with poor liver and kidney function, please be careful (please consult a pharmacist or physician before supplementing health tablets)
- Do not use with anticoagulants, hypertension drugs, and lipid-lowering drugs (may interfere with the effects of drugs)
- Do not use with drugs metabolized by the liver (especially Cytochrome P450 enzyme system), which may amplify the effects of the drug or increase side effects, such as analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, psychiatric drugs, and antiemetics.