Pomegranates can be difficult to crack open, but they offer a lot of health benefits

A pomegranate is a beautiful red fruit with nutritious arils. This unique superfood may be tricky to open, but it’s worth learning how so you can reap its many health benefits.

The pomegranate comes from Punica granatum, a fruit-bearing shrub in the Lythraceae family. Opening the tough, leathery skins of pomegranates reveals clusters of edible seeds called arilsPomegranate arils are full of juice, but they’re covered in inedible white pith.

The translucent red flesh of an aril may coat a tiny seed, but you can still eat the entire aril because pomegranate seeds are rich in antioxidants.

Take note, however, that pomegranates are bad for dogs because the fruit may cause extreme digestive distress in your pets.

One pomegranate only has about 234 calories, making it the perfect snack to munch on if you want to lose weight.

The fruit also contains:

  • Antioxidants – Pomegranate seeds are rich in antioxidants that can help protect the body from inflammation and free radicals. These antioxidants are called polyphenols. Some examples of polyphenols are anthocyanins, flavonoids, and tannins.
  • Potassium and zinc – Pomegranates are full of zinc, an essential nutrient in wound healing that also boosts immune function. The fruit is also rich in potassium.
  • Vitamin C and fiber – Pomegranates contain vitamin C. They are also rich in fiber, which can mostly be found in the white seeds contained inside the arils. A pomegranate has at least 48 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.

How to remove pomegranate seeds

Choose a pomegranate with thin, tough, and even skin. The heavier a pomegranate is, the juicier it is.

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  1. Get a sharp knife, then carefully slice off the crown. Lightly cut the skin of the pomegranate so you can break it into quarters.
  2. Soak the fruit in a bowl of cold water to loosen up the arils.
  3. While the pomegranate is underwater, gently pull the fruit apart into quarters. The water will prevent the juice from spilling all over your work area.
  4. Use your fingers to separate the arils in each quarter slice, and collect them from the water in the bowl.
  5. Let the seeds dry for five minutes.

If you have leftover arils, you can save them for later use. Just store the seeds in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to three days. Another option is to freeze the arils for up to six months.

The health benefits of pomegranate seeds

Here are some reasons to snack on pomegranates.

They have powerful medicinal properties.

Pomegranates have two unique plant compounds: punicalagins and punicic acid. These compounds are responsible for most of their health benefits.

They are anti-inflammatory and they can help prevent cancer.

Some studies suggest that pomegranates may help fight inflammation in the gut. There are also studies that demonstrate the anti-inflammatory potential of punicic acid from pomegranate seed oil against breast cancer cells. (Related: Pomegranates are some of the best foods you can eat to prevent cancer.)

They can help lower your blood pressure.

Data from a different study revealed that individuals with high blood pressure (hypertension) experienced a significant reduction in blood pressure after they were given five ounces (150 ml) of pomegranate juice every day for a period of two weeks.

Separate studies have found similar effects, especially for participants with high systolic blood pressure (the higher number in a blood pressure reading).

They can help prevent heart disease.

According to small studies, participants who drank pomegranate juice saw improvement in their blood flow. Optimal blood flow can help slow the growth of plaques and the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Juice from the fruit also helped keep their arteries from becoming stiff and thick.

They may help address arthritis and joint pain.

Researchers posited that since the compounds in pomegranates have anti-inflammatory effects, the fruit could be used to treat arthritis. Data from laboratory studies suggested that pomegranate extracts can block enzymes that are known to damage the joints of individuals diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

Pomegranates are considered superfoods for many reasons: They are full of nutrients, have powerful medicinal properties, and can even be used to lower high blood pressure and reduce a person’s risk of heart attack.

If you want to boost your heart health, snack on pomegranates.

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