What is Pomegranate?
It is a fruit-producing small tree that is found in family lythraceae. Its botanical name is punica granatum and its growth level is between 5m and 8m tall. It contains branches that are multiple spiny and can live for many years. It contains opposite leaves which are narrow and entirely 1.2 inches to 2.8 inches long and 2 cm broad. The color of the pomegranate is bright red and measures 3 cm in diameter and has 3-7 petals. The fruit diameter ranges between 5- 12 cm and the size is between a lemon and grapefruit. It is round in shape, thick and has reddish skin. Seeds in pomegranate varies from 200 – about 1400.
The season for this fruit is usually from September to February in the Northern hemisphere whereas in the Southern hemisphere is between March to May. Pomegranate can be used during cooking, making smoothies and alcoholic beverages (like wine, cocktails), blending juice and meal garnishing. The pomegranate origins are from Iran. Its pomegranate cultivation has been done since the old days in the Mediterranean and Northern India regions. In the late 16th century, pomegranate was introduced to Spanish America and California in 1769. Today, the cultivation of pomegranate is being carried out in the regions of North and tropical Asia, Central Asia, parts of Mediterranean, Middle East and the drier parts of Southeast Asia. Today it has been known more in the commercial markets of Europe and Western Hemisphere.
Reasons for growing pomegranate
- As fruit crop
- As ornamental trees
- In parks and gardens as shrubs.
Pomegranate growth can also occur in dry areas with either summer or winter climate and even rainfall type of weather since it is a drought resistant plant. The plant can be prone to decaying of the roots in wetter regions due to fungal diseases. The plant can tolerate frost to about -12 degrees Celsius.
VARIETIES OF POMEGRANATE
P.granatum nana which is a dwarf variety of p.granatum. It’s mostly grown as an ornamental plant in larger containers and gardens. It is used as specimen tree for bonsai. The other variety is from genus Punica and it is called Socotran pomegranate. Its botanical name is punica protopunica. It is different from the other variety of pomegranate because it has pink but not red flowers, it’s smaller and less sweet.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF POMEGRANATE
- IT CONTAINS A LOT OF IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS
The edible part of pomegranate is the seeds which are called arils. They can be eaten while raw or in form of juice.
1 cup of arils which is equivalent to 174 grams contains
- Protein -3 grams
- Fiber – 7 grams
- Vitamin C – 30% of RDA
- Vitamin K – 36% of the RDA
- Folate – 16% of the RDA
- Potassium – 12% of the RDA
- The seeds are very sweet and they contain 24 g of sugar and 144 calories.
- POMEGRANATE CONTAINS MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
Punicalagins and punicic acid are the two substances in pomegranate that benefits the body.
They contain antioxidant properties. The juice has three times better antioxidant activity than the red wine and green tea. The peel is used to make pomegranate powder and extract. This is because peels contain high levels of antioxidant and punicalagin content.
Punicic acid (pomegranate seed oil)
It is the major fatty acid contained in the arils. It is an acid that is linoleic conjugated with high biological effects.
- POMEGRANATE HAS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS
Chronic inflammation is one of the major drivers in killer diseases. Such diseases are like Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer and obesity. Study done in test tube has shown that inflammatory activity in the digestive tract can be reduced. Also it can reduce chances of getting colon and breast cancer. In a study that was carried out showed that 250 ml of pomegranate juice per day for 12 weeks can lower inflammation markers CRP by 32% and interleukin by 30%.
- POMEGRANATE CAN HELP FIGHT PROSTATE CANCER
Studies carried out in laboratory showed out that extract from pomegranate can make cancer cell reproduction slower or even induce cell death (apoptosis) in the cancer cells. The blood marker for prostate cancer is Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).When PSA doubles over a short period of time in men, there are high possibilities of getting prostate cancer that can result to death. A study that was carried out found that pomegranate juice (237 ml per day) increased doubling period of PSA from 15 months to 54 months.
- POMEGRANATE CAN ALSO HELP FIGHT BREAST CANCER
Inhibition and also killing of breast cancer cells can be done with the help of pomegranate extract. However more research on this is being carried out.
- POMEGRANATE CAN HELP LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
One leading driver of diseases such as heart attack and stroke is hypertension (high blood pressure). In a study that was conducted found out that consumption of 150 ml of pomegranate juice per day for 2 weeks can help reduce high blood pressure. In other studies especially for systolic blood pressure, have found the same effects.
- POMEGRANATE CAN HELP LOWER HEART DISEASES
Heart Disease is one of the complicated disease that is causing premature deaths nowadays. The disease can be driven by many factors. Punicic acid, main fatty acid in pomegranate, may be of help in protecting various steps in heart diseases process. In a study that was carried out showed that 800 mg of pomegranate seed oil daily for four weeks can help lower triglycerides and help in improving triglyceride: HDL ratio. In people with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, pomegranate was found to have effects of significantly reducing LDL cholesterol and other improvements.
- POMEGRANATE CAN HELP TREAT ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
In a study that was carried out in rabbits showed that pomegranate can help increase blood flow and erectile response. The blood flow in the body can be impaired by the oxidative damage including erectile tissue.53 men with erectile dysfunction had improvements in their body after taking pomegranate.
- POMEGRANATE HELPS IN IMPROVING MEMORY
In a study that was carried out in surgical patients showed that 2g of pomegranate extract can help prevent deficiency in memory after the surgery process. 237 ml of pomegranate juice per day can help improve makers of visual and verbal memory. This was concluded after a study was done in 28 elderly people who were complaining about memory. Alzheimer’s disease can also be fought by pomegranate.
- POMEGRANATE CAN HELP IN FIGHTING BACTERIAL AND FUNGAL INFECTIONS
Harmful microorganisms can be fought by taking pomegranate. Studies have shown it can help fight some bacteria and the yeast(candidaalbicans). And can also be protected against conditions in the mouth such as gingivitis and denture.
- POMEGRANATE CAN HELP IN IMPROVING EXERCISE PERFORMANCE
Dietary nitrates in pomegranate has proved to improve exercise performance. In a run that included 19 athletes, were instructed to take 1 g of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before exercise. Taking pomegranate enhanced blood flow that lead to delaying fatigue on the onset and increased efficiency in exercise.
- POMEGRANATE CAN HELP FIGHT JOINT PAIN AND ARTHRITIS
Arthritis is disease commonly found in the western countries and it involves inflammation of the joints. Since pomegranate has anti-inflammatory effects, it can help treat arthritis. In a study that was carried out in laboratory showed that extract from pomegranate can help in blockage of enzymes known to damage joints in people with osteoarthritis.
NUTRITIONAL FACTS ABOUT POMEGRANATE
1 pomegranate (282g) has
- Proteins – 4.7g
- Water – 220g
- Ash – 1.5g
It also contains total calories of 234g
- Calories from carbohydrates – 190g
- Calories from fat – 28g
- Calories from protein – 16g
The total amount of carbohydrates – 53g
- Dietary fiber is 11g
- Sugar is 39g
Total amount of fats and fatty acid – 3.3g
- Saturated fats 338g
- Monounsaturated fat 262g
- Polyunsaturated fats 223g
- Omega 6 fatty acids 223g
- Vitamin C – 29g: Vitamin C being water soluble vitamin is a natural antioxidant. It helps in development of immunity against diseases. It also helps in the removal of free oxygen radicals.
- Vitamin E – 1.7g: helps protect the cells from neutralizing free radicals
- Vitamin k – 46 mcg helps in blood clotting.
- Thiamin 189 mcg: It helps in converting carbohydrates into glucose. Which is used in the body to produce energy. It is also of benefits to the eyes, improves the brain function
- Riboflavin 149g; it acts as antioxidant that helps in heart diseases, treats anemia, minimizes the effects of cancer producing carcinogens, and also helps in production of energy.
- Niacin 826 mcg:it helps in lowering the cholesterol levels in the body
- Vitamin b6-212 mcg: helps in conversion of food to energy
- Folate 107 mcg: it is important in pregnant women as it helps in functioning of the normal cells and the growth of the tissue
- Choline 21.4mg: it’s helpful in liver functioning, development of the brain, movements in the muscles and maintaining healthy metabolism.
- Pantothenic acid 1.1 mg (vitamin B5): helps in the process of breaking down of fats and carbohydrates for energy
- Calcium 28g; helps in oral health and stronger bone
- Iron 846 mcg; helps the red blood cells in transportation process of oxygen to all parts of the body.
- Magnesium 34 mg; Magnesium helps in regulating blood pressure, it treats diabetes, insomnia and depression
- Phosphorous 102 mg; It helps in maintaining strong bones and teeth in the body. It is used by the body in synthesizing proteins for the cell, repairing tissues
- Potassium 666mg; helps in energy metabolism and in biochemical cellular reactions
- Sodium 8.5mg; it is both an electrolyte and a mineral and helps in keeping the water and electrolyte balance in the body. It also helps in keeping the blood pressure.
- Zinc 0.99mg;it is of much help in cell division, cell growth, breakdown of carbohydrates and in healing of wounds.
- Copper 446 mcg; helps in heart health
- Manganese 336 mcg: helps the body in forming connective tissues, bones, sex hormones and blood clotting factors.
- Selenium 1.4mcg: it works as antioxidants which helps in fighting of the free radicals.
HOW TO STORE POMEGRANATE
Pomegranate juice can be refrigerated but not for more than 3 days.
Do not cut the fruit open if it’s not being consumed immediately.
Do not put pomegranate under direct sunlight.
Storage of pomegranates should be done in plastic bag and be used within 3 days.
Pomegranate should be stored between temperatures of 32F and 41F.