Pomegranates have been eaten in the United States since colonial times, with settlers growing these fruits along the East Coast from the area that is now Florida up to South Carolina. They provide you with nutrients including vitamins C and K, folate and potassium. Although research is still preliminary, they may also provide some health benefits.
Early evidence points to potential heart-health benefits from pomegranates. Drinking pomegranate juice may help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and keep plaque from building up and clogging your arteries, according to MedlinePlus. However, more research is needed to verify these health benefits and figure out how much pomegranate you need to consume to get them.
Drinking pomegranate juice or eating pomegranates may help lower your risk for cancer. The flavonoids and tannins in pomegranates seem to help slow the growth of cancer cells, according to an article published in "Nutrition and Cancer" in 2009. However, most of the studies have been done using test tubes and animals, so more studies using people are needed to figure out how beneficial pomegranate is for preventing or treating cancer.
Pomegranate contains antioxidants called flavonols that may help limit the damage to cartilage that affects people with osteoarthritis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, pomegranate may help you minimize your symptoms by reducing inflammation, according to a small study published in "The Israel Medical Association Journal" in August 2011.
Consuming pomegranates may help you control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. An article published in "Food & Function" in June 2012 states that pomegranate can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. You should probably limit the amount of pomegranate juice you drink if you have diabetes though, since fruit juices are usually high in sugar and don't have the fiber to slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream.
Drinking pomegranate juice is safe for most people, but pomegranate juice may interfere with some medicines, so check with your doctor before you start drinking it, especially if you take ACE inhibitors, statins, blood pressure medications or blood thinners. Pomegranate rind can be poisonous, so only consume the arils, or seed sacs, and the juice.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Pomegranates, Raw
- Nutrition and Cancer: Cancer Chemoprevention by Pomegranate: Laboratory and Clinical Evidence
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Pomegranate
- MedlinePlus: Pomegranate
- Food & Function: Pomegranate: A Fruit That Ameliorates Metabolic Syndrome
- The Israel Medical Association Journal: Consumption of Pomegranate Decreases Serum Oxidative Stress and Reduces Disease Activity in Patients With Active Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Pilot Study
- Food and Drink in America; Andrew F. Smith, Editor in Chief
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.