4 Health Benefits of Pomegranates, according to Dietitians
Pomegranates are delicious, and their ruby red seeds are a beautiful addition to recipes. And while their popularity in America is relatively new, according to 2020 research published in Foods, pomegranates have been a staple in other cultures for thousands of years. Native to Iran and North India, the sweet fruit has long been grown and eaten throughout the Mediterranean regions of Asia, Africa and Europe. They were featured in ancient Egyptian art and mythology, and they're even mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible.
As well as a rich history, pomegranates have some serious health benefits. Here are four of the top health benefits of pomegranates that you need to know about.
Pomegranate Nutrition Facts
Pomegranate juice and pomegranate arils (aka the juicy seeds) both deliver some impressive nutrition benefits. Here's the nutrition breakdown for a serving of each.
Pomegranate Juice Nutrition
According to the USDA, 1 cup of pomegranate juice contains:
- 134 calories
- 0g protein
- 0.7g fat
- 33g carbohydrate
- 0g fiber
- 533mg potassium
- 60ug folate
- 22mg sodium
Pomegranate Seed Nutrition
According to the USDA, 3/4 cup of pomegranate arils contains:
- 120 calories
- 2g protein
- 2g fat
- 26g carbohydrate
- 6g fiber
- 15mg vitamin C
- 280mg potassium
- 0mg sodium
Health Benefits of Pomegranates
Here are just some of the benefits you'll get when you regularly include pomegranates in your diet.
"Pomegranates are high in fiber," says Tejal Pathak, M.S. RD, a dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adult females eat 22-28 grams of fiber per day and adult males eat 28-34 grams. Since 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds contains 3.5 grams of fiber, you can make a significant dent in your fiber goal by adding pomegranates to your morning yogurt bowl.
One of the most immediate benefits of getting adequate fiber is better digestive health. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine's resource, MedlinePlus, getting enough fiber helps improve digestion and prevent constipation—two benefits you might notice right away. One thing to note is that you'll only get fiber from eating pomegranate seeds, not from drinking pomegranate juice.
Getting enough fiber—including the fiber found in pomegranate seeds—is also linked to improved heart health. According to a 2021 review in Current Cardiology Reports, people with the highest intakes of fiber had a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers propose this reduction is due to fiber's ability to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, reduce blood pressure and decrease inflammation. Pathak also notes that pomegranates are high in potassium, which the American Heart Association says is an important nutrient when it comes to preventing high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease.
Pomegranate juice might be beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes, says Pathak. For example, a 2019 study published in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN found that participants with Type 2 diabetes who drank about 7 ounces of pomegranate juice a day had lower blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) after six weeks. And a 2019 review in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research suggests pomegranate juice helps regulate lipid metabolism (how your body breaks down and uses fat) in people with Type 2 diabetes. All of this could lower the risk of heart disease in patients with Type 2 diabetes, who are at a higher risk.
According to a 2022 review in Antioxidants, there is also a lot of evidence showing that certain compounds in pomegranates may be associated with better blood sugar numbers and may be protective against oxidative stress and cell damage that can worsen health outcomes for people with Type 2 diabetes.
"Pomegranates are high in anthocyanins, which are strong antioxidants and also responsible for their beautiful ruby red color," says Sarah Pflugradt, M.S., RD, a dietitian and nutrition educator. She explains that these antioxidants are the main reason experts are looking into the potential health benefits of pomegranates.
"Low-grade chronic inflammation is known to be a root cause of many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes," explains Pflugradt. Experts believe that the antioxidants found in pomegranates might help counteract that inflammation and thus reduce the risk of these and other health conditions, according to a 2021 review in the International Journal of Functional Nutrition.
How to Eat a Pomegranate
Pomegranates are delicious when eaten by themselves but can be tricky to deseed. If you want a more convenient way to get the seeds, buy them by the cup at your local market. "Me and my kids simply love the juicy and crunchy seeds (arils) and enjoy eating as is," says Pathak. Pathak also recommends using them as a yogurt or salad topper, inside sandwich wraps or as pie filling.
Pflugradt, on the other hand, likes sprinkling pomegranate seeds onto savory hummus or drinking pomegranate juice post-workout.
The Bottom Line
As with all foods, pomegranates don't have magical health properties, and they won't make or break a healthy diet. That said, they're delicious and versatile, and there's strong evidence that the fiber in pomegranate seeds can promote digestive health and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. There's also evidence that certain compounds found in pomegranates (and in higher concentrations in pomegranate juice) might help reduce inflammation, promote better blood sugar control and reduce your risk of several chronic health conditions. That's a lot of benefits in those tiny seeds!