By Lori Kenyon Farley
Pomegranates (also referred to as Chinese apples) have been used in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures for thousands of years. They are associated with health, fertility and rebirth. In the US, pomegranates are cultivated only in California. In addition to a delicious sweet/tart taste, they have many health benefits:
One serving of pomegranate seeds contains 48% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious diseases, and viruses by increasing the production of white blood cells, thereby boosting the immune system.
Support Healthy Heart Functions:
Pomegranates contain a compound called punicalagin. This antioxidant helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and helps melt away heart blockages. According to a recent study, heart patients given an ounce of pomegranate juice for a year had 30% less plaque and a 12% reduction in blood pressure. Pomegranate juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea!
Pomegranates possess potent anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Studies of several fruit juices and wines have reported highest polyphenols concentration in pomegranate juice followed by red wine and cranberry juice. Findings published in the Journal of Inflammation suggest that pomegranate juice offers promise for preventing chronic inflammation. Left untreated, chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s, type-2 diabetes and arthritis.
Improve Exercise Performance:
Pomegranates are high in dietary nitrates, much like beet root and dark leafy green vegetables. Nitrates are simple nitrogen and oxygen endowed molecules. While they were once thought to be nothing more than metabolic byproducts and hazardous, we now know that both nitrates have the potential to help the body use oxygen more efficiently, meaning that an athlete could use less oxygen during a given workout, get more muscle “pump” during lifting, or accomplish more work before getting exhausted in endurance activities. In a study completed at the University of North Carolina, a standardized pomegranate extract was provided to runners 30 minutes before an intermittent sprinting challenge, and researchers compared it to the same trial on a different day using a placebo. The pomegranate juice increased blood flow after 30 minutes, which was immediately before they started running. At that time, the subjects also reported experiencing a nearly immediate positive impact on their feelings of vitality. Once the sprinting challenge began, subjects were able to run more intensely, run longer, and they experienced increased blood flow parameters 30 minutes after the challenge.
Increases Testosterone & Sex Drive:
Move over Viagra! There’s a new libido booster in town. In studies conducted by scientists at Queen Margaret University, UCLA and USC, both men and women who drank one glass of pomegranate juice per day for two weeks were found to have significantly increased levels of testosterone. Besides being a sexual stimulant, increased testosterone can lead to a sharper memory, stronger bones and muscles, and can relieve stress.