Winter produce can be a bit drab in comparison to the fresh blueberries, raspberries, peaches, and nectarines of summertime. But each winter, I eagerly wait for one of my favorite foods of all time to appear on grocery store shelves: pomegranates. I’ve always loved the task of removing the seeds from this fruit, and I often will eat a whole bowl of them straight with a spoon. If I don’t eat them all in one sitting, I will include these beautiful red seeds in fruit salads or green spinach salads for a special treat. The flavor is just the beginning: Pomegranate health benefits are plentiful and impressive.
Lower Heart Disease Risk
This antioxidant-rich fruit has a number of health benefits, particularly for your heart. We included pomegranate as one of the top 8 foods to lower blood pressure, because it is so effective in bringing blood pressure readings down. They can also help lower LDL cholesterol and prevent LDL oxidation, which are two factors that can impact your risk for heart disease.
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Pomegranates Are Rich Source of Antioxidants
Pomegranates are particularly high in antioxidants, including flavonoids, anthocyanins, and tannins. These antioxidants help to reduce oxidative damage, which contributes to problems like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, and many heart-related problems such as atherosclerosis.
Pomegranate Health Benefits Include Lowering Cholesterol Levels
Supplementation with pomegranate can significantly improve cholesterol readings.[1-4] In one study, people were given 40 g of concentrated pomegranate juice daily for eight weeks. At the end of the study, LDL cholesterol was significantly reduced, as was the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio. Pomegranate seed oil also has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels and raise the healthy, HDL cholesterol levels.[2,3]
Pomegranate doesn’t just lower cholesterol levels, however. It also helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized, it can be particularly harmful; oxidized LDL it is more likely to accumulate in blood vessels and cause atherogenesis, the build up of plaques in arteries that leads to atherosclerosis. Laboratory studies show that inhibiting oxidative stress in LDL by feeding animals antioxidants slows the progression of atherosclerosis.
Pomegranate juice protects against the oxidation of cholesterol, and helps to reduce oxidized LDL levels in humans, as well.[5,6] For example, people who consumed 50 ml of pomegranate juice per day for one year showed significantly lower LDL oxidation.
Including Pomegranate In Your Diet
If you have never done so, try buying a whole pomegranate and removing the seeds. They are delicious in salads, or alone as a snack. Some stores sell the removed seeds near the pomegranate juice, but they’re only available for a limited time each year. Pomegranate juice is a great way to get all the benefits of this fruit in an easy, no hassle way. Drink a glass a day to boost your heart health. Just be sure to choose 100% pomegranate juice, avoiding products with added sugar or other unhealthy additives.
If you are on any prescription medications, such as ACE inhibitors or warfarin, you should check with your doctor to make sure pomegranate will not adversely interfere with your medication use.
Share Your Experience
Have you ever experienced these pomegranate health benefits for the heart? Has pomegranate helped you to reach healthy cholesterol readings? Share your favorite ways to use pomegranate in the comment section below.
This article was originally published in 2016. It is regularly updated.