Pomegranates are antioxidant-rich superfruits just waiting to be enjoyed every late-fall and winter. Pomegranate juice has been the subject of many scientific and clinical studies over the years. Preliminary research is showing a lot of promise for this superfood.
You can either blend pomegranate arils and pith in a green smoothie, or use pomegranate juice as a liquid in your smoothie recipes.
Here are seven scientific health reasons to use pomegranates or pomegranate juice in your next green smoothie:
1 – Pomegranates Are Nutritional Superfruits
One cup (250ml) of pomegranate juice provides up to 33% RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin E. You’ll also get all B vitamins (except B12) including folate (13% RDA), vitamin B5 (30% RDA) and vitamin B6 (20% RDA). Pomegranate juice also contains 9% RDA of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and 10% RDA of vitamin K.
As for minerals, one cup of pomegranate juice provides 1.2 milligrams of iron, 13% RDA of potassium and 19% RDA of copper.
2 – Pomegranate Juice May Support Brain Health
The antioxidants in pomegranate juice may protect the brain against damage from free radicals. The polyphenols in antioxidant-rich fruits like pomegranate have been shown to be neuroprotective. Oxidative stress on the brain has been looked at as a potential cause or contributing factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
A December 2006 study published in the journal Neurobiology of Disease showed that supplementing pomegranate juice in the diets of mice found that not only did they perform better in cognitive tasks (like water mazes), they also had “significantly less amyloid deposition in the hippocampus”. Amyloid plaque is generally associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
3 – Pomegranate & Prostate Cancer
Naturally occurring ellagitannins in pomegranates produce urolithins when digested. Scientists think that these urolithins may fight prostate cancer, or at least provide some benefit to prostate cancer patients. A team of researches presented their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry after discovering that urolithins slowed down prostate tumor growth in mice that consumed pomegranate juice.
Human studies have shown similar results. A 2006 study published in Clinical Cancer Research found that prostate cancer patients who drank eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily had a slower progression of prostate cancer. They found that mean PSA (prostate-specific antigen) doubling time significantly increased with treatment. Prior to the study, the average doubling time of PSA in human test subjects was 15 months, and it increased to 54 months at the end of the study.
Elevated PSA levels are typically associated with prostate cancer. The amount of time it takes for PSA levels to double indicates how fast the disease is progressing.
4 – Pomegranate & Breast Cancer
The ellagitannins in pomegranates have shown promising potential in prostate cancer in men, but women with breast cancer may also benefit from the phytochemicals in this fruit.
A study published in Cancer Prevention Research found that urolithins (produced from ellagitannins) inhibited the growth of estrogen-responsive breast cancer cells. While this was an “in vitro” study, meaning that the compounds from pomegranate were applied to breast cancer cells outside of the body, there will likely be future studies looking into the link between eating pomegranates, or drinking its juice, and its effects on breast cancer.
5 – May Protect Against Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is another condition that that may benefit from pomegranate ellagitannins. According to a 2010 article published in the American Chemical Society journal, ellagitannins in pomegranates may inhibit cancer cell proliferation in the colon.
6 – May Help Men With Erectile Dysfunction
A 2007 study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research showed a link between the consumption of commercial pomegranate juice and an improvement in mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. According to the article, pomegranate juice “enhances endothelial nitric oxide levels and directly impacts atherosclerotic changes associated with erectile dysfunction”.
Of the 53 men between the ages of 21 and 70 that completed the study, 42 reported improvement in their erectile function. Of the 42, 25 reported improvement after drinking the pomegranate juice. While this study is not “statistically significant”, it offers a tantalizing direction for further study in treating mild to moderate ED with pomegranate juice supplementation.
7 – May Lower Blood Pressure & Promote Cardiovascular Health
A 2001 study published in the journal Athlerosclerosis showed a 5% reduction in systollic blood pressure as well as a 36% decrease in serum ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) levels after ingestion of pomegranate juice. According to the researchers, pomegranate juice “can offer a wide protection against cardiovascular diseases which could be related to its inhibitory effect on oxidative stress and on serum ACE activity”.
A small study published in the August 2006 issue of Athlerosclerosis investigated the effects of pomegranate juice consumption in patients with type 2 diabetes. The researchers concluded that pomegranate juice consumption “by diabetic patients did not worsen the diabetic parameters, but rather resulted in anti-oxidative effects on serum and macrophages, which could contribute to attenuation of atherosclerosis development in these patients”.
And yet another study of pomegranate juice supplementation among patients with kidney failure who were on dialysis found that regular consumption of pomegranate juice may provide some protective effect against cardiovascular complications that may result from the disease.
Get Your Pomegranate On
Pomegranate is a powerful fruit and one that you should definitely use in your green smoothies this winter. For more recipes and information, visit the pomegranate smoothie recipes page.