Pomegranate seeds, called arils, are the part of the fruit that most people eat. The pomegranate seems like an intimidating fruit. But breaking through that tough skin to reach the juicy, ruby-red seeds (called arils, a name that includes the seed and the juice that surrounds it) is worth it because there are many health benefits to be found inside.
These tart arils can help you keep your body healthy and ward off disease. Plus, they may be just what you need to add a splash of flavor to everything from your salad to your juice.
What is a pomegranate? And how did it become a superfood?
The pomegranate fruit is best known for the jewel-like arils found inside its red rind. Pomegranates have been cultivated for centuries in India, Asia, the Mediterranean Basin and tropical regions of Africa. In ancient times, the pomegranate represented fertility, and the fruit has been depicted many times in art throughout history. Almost every part of the pomegranate has been researched for its potential health benefits, and with promising results, its popularity has skyrocketed. These days, you can easily find pomegranate in the form of supplements, juices, powders, extracts and, of course, the fruit itself.
Pomegranate Nutrition Facts: Calories, Carbs, Sugar, & More
Pomegranate arils are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, substances that can help prevent or delay cell damage. In fact, pomegranate juice contains three times more antioxidants than other antioxidant-rich beverages, such as green tea and red wine. Pomegranate arils also contain many other nutrients and are a great addition to your recommended daily serving of fruit. A half-cup serving provides:
27 grams (g) of carbohydrates
89g of sugar
5 g of fiber (14% of the daily value, or DV)
205 milligrams (mg) of potassium (about 5% of the daily value)
9 mg vitamin C (about 10% DV for men, 12% DV for women)
3 micrograms (µg) of vitamin K (about 18% of the daily value)
33 mcg of folate (about 8% of the daily value) (
What are the potential health benefits of pomegranate?
Research suggests that pomegranate, in its various forms, offers the following benefits:
Helps protect against heart disease
There is some evidence that pomegranate may help lower cholesterol, which in turn may reduce the risk of heart disease.
The vitamin C content of the fruit has anti-inflammatory properties, which may protect against many common diseases, such as certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Reduction of high blood pressure
The antioxidants found in pomegranate can help reduce high blood pressure, which helps keep your arteries, heart, and brain working properly.
Help with erectile dysfunction (ED)
One study found that drinking 20ml of pomegranate juice every day helped almost half of study participants see an improvement in their erections.
Protection against certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer
Some small studies suggest that drinking pomegranate juice may help slow the spread of prostate cancer cells.
Although the benefits of pomegranate are numerous, more research is needed to confirm them.
Is pomegranate a good food for weight loss?
Significantly increasing your pomegranate intake does not necessarily mean you will lose weight overnight. There hasn’t been a lot of research showing that pomegranate helps with weight loss, and the studies that suggested there might be a link were either very small or not significant enough to draw conclusions. That said, pomegranates are part of a healthy diet and can help with weight loss efforts because they contain fiber, which helps with feelings of fullness. You may end up eating less, which will allow you to lose weight. They could be especially beneficial for weight loss when eaten in place of candies or desserts.
How to choose and store pomegranates for optimal taste?
When looking at a pomegranate at the store, choose one that is dark red in color and seems to weigh a lot for its size. Look for shiny, blemish-free skin and gently scrape it off. If it’s soft and easy to scratch, it’s probably ripe. The fruit itself should be a kind of square circle. A pomegranate with this shape means that the seeds inside the fruit have reached their juiciest potential. When you bring the pomegranate home, do not leave it in direct sunlight. It is best to store it in a cool, dry place. You can also store it in your refrigerator for up to two months.
Once you have opened the skin and extracted the arils or juice, store them in the refrigerator and enjoy them within five days. If you’re not ready to eat them yet, you can store the arils in the freezer for up to a year.
The best way to prepare and eat a pomegranate
Pomegranate is not a fruit you want to bite into. Instead, you need to cut the skin to extract the arils. But before you do, put on a pair of gloves and an apron, as grenades are messy and can easily stain what you’re wearing. Cut off the crown end of the fruit, that is, the end that sticks out more than the other.
Next, you’re going to score the skin of the pomegranate three or four times until you can easily break it into small pieces. Place the pieces of fruit in a bowl of water and use your hands to free the arils from the rind. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl. When you have extracted all the arils from the fruit, discard the rind, which should float to the top of the bowl, and strain the rest of the contents of the bowl until only the arils remain. You can enjoy the arils as they are or place them in a blender to release their juices. After a few passages (do not mix too long or the juice will become cloudy), filter the juice of what remains of the seeds, and taste.
Can you eat pomegranate seeds?
Yes, pomegranate seeds are completely edible. In fact, the seeds and the juice that surrounds the seeds (together called arils) are the parts of the fruit that you are supposed to eat.
Arils are usually found in salads. You can also add them to yogurt or water to give them a little more flavor.
Is pomegranate juice good for you? What about pomegranate extract?
Pomegranate juice is generally healthy, but you should check the label first. You need to make sure that you drink pure juice and not juice mixed with other juices or added sugars, which take away the health benefits and can turn the juice into another sugary drink. Pomegranate extract is also healthy for the same reasons as pomegranate juice. This is a concentrated version of the juice, so you get an even more concentrated dose of goodness. You will find pomegranate extract sold in liquid or supplement form. Remember that the majority of fiber is removed when making pomegranate juice or extract. Therefore, these foods will not give you the same benefits as fresh pomegranate.
Side Effects of Pomegranate Eating and Potential Health Risks
Pomegranates and their various forms are generally very healthy and safe. However, some people may develop allergic reactions when eating pomegranates. They will usually show the classic signs of an allergy, such as itchy eyes or difficulty breathing.
The side effects of blood thinners you need to know
Pomegranate juice may interact negatively with certain medications, including blood thinners and medications that treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is a good idea to consult your doctor before deciding to take pomegranate regularly in any form so that he can advise you on safety.