Easily boost your immune system by eating more pomegranates, study concludes

Pomegranates (Punica granatum) are indeed one of the healthiest foods on the planet. In fact, a study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine noted that the bright red seeds of the fruit provide a bevy of benefits. Scientists from King Saud University concluded that pomegranates can boost the immune system and treat diseases such as malaria.

For their study, the researchers investigated the fruit’s ability to treat malaria-induced injury using a murine model for oxidative stress. The mice were infected with Plasmodium chabaudi to mimic the effects of malaria on the animals. The researchers then treated some of the rats with an extract derived from pomegranate peels. After a week of observation, the researchers took samples of the mice’s spleen for further analysis. They found that the pomegranate leaf extract displayed potential anti-malaria, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. In particular, mice treated with the extract had fewer spleen injuries after infection with P. chabaudi than those in the control group.

Researchers also found lower numbers of inflammation biomarkers in mice treated with pomegranate extract, as well as significantly decreased levels of oxidative stress, based on the number of oxidant molecules present.

“This study showed that pomegranate clearly induced antimalarial activity in the host by attenuating inflammatory and oxidative stress responses,” the researchers concluded in their study. “Furthermore, pomegranate enhanced the innate immune responses and, therefore, could serve an alternative therapy to control clinical malaria episodes and may protect against malaria infection.” (Related: Pomegranate juice has DRAMATIC effects in slowing the development of prostate cancer.)

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Pomegranates offer a variety of health benefits

Pomegranates are a nutrient-packed fruit. Just one cup of its seeds (also referred to as arils) contains over a third of the daily requirement for vitamins C and K. It also has fiber, protein, and essential minerals like folate and potassium which are essential for the body to function properly. In addition, the fruits contain plant-based compounds that are widely known for their multiple benefits. Punicalagins, in particular, are phytochemicals that are unique to fruit and contain more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. Punicic acid, on the other hand, is another compound known for its potent biological activity and is usually present in pomegranate seed oil.

The fruit is also known for its ability to protect the body against chronic inflammation, itself the leading risk factor for diseases like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even obesity. Based on earlier studies, scientists have found that pomegranate extracts can inhibit breast and colon cancer cell lines from proliferating, greatly reducing its ability to spread. Meanwhile, a clinical trial on patients with diabetes found that drinking a cup of pomegranate juice each day can lower inflammation in the body, based on the reduced number of pro-inflammatory markers in the body.

It’s not just for those looking to prevent disease — studies have also shown that pomegranates are full of dietary nitrates which are helpful for those looking for a better workout and improved exercise performance.

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