Pomegranate benefits

4 Health Benefits of Pomegranates, According to Dietitians

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.

The Health Benefits of Pomegranates

opened pomegranate with seeds

No doubt, they’re beautiful. Whether whole or simply a container of fresh ruby-red arils, pomegranates tend to grab your eye as you’re walking through the produce aisle. But their appeal isn’t just skin deep when you consider all the benefits they offer.

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Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD, shares why these juicy, delectable fruits can be a great addition to your diet — and why the seeds are just as good as the juice.

Is there a difference between pomegranate juice and seeds?

Pomegranate seeds and juice directly from the fruit are always better than bottled juice, but both have their benefits. If you want to consume less sugar, instead of drinking bottled pomegranate juice, break the pomegranate open and eat the fruit on the inside. But be warned, there’s a trick to cutting the fruit open properly.

Here’s an easy way to peel a pomegranate:

  • Hold the pomegranate so the protruding stem end faces one side. Slice away a wide swath of the crown with the stem in the middle. Then turn the fruit so the cut edge is on top.
  • You’ll see a set of sections that radiate from the top; a second set radiates from the stem end. The two sets are divided by a ridge running around the pomegranate about two-thirds of the way down from the top.
  • Slice the pomegranate skin along the ridges that run from the top to the bottom and along the horizontal ridge. Try to score through the skin as deep as the white membrane and avoid slicing into the seeds.
  • Then, using your fingers, gently pull the pomegranate apart. It will fall into a star shape, like a blossom. Spoon out the juicy seeds to eat and discard the white membrane, which has a bitter taste.

Health benefits of pomegranates

Now that you know how to slice and dice pomegranates, here’s the rundown on some of their benefits.

They’re high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that help protect cells from environmental toxins such as pollution and cigarette smoke. Antioxidants are known to help prevent and repair DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Pomegranate juice alone won’t keep cancer at bay, but studies suggest it may be a nutritious addition to a healthy, plant-based diet such as the Mediterranean diet.

They may benefit prostate health

Some research found that components in pomegranate juice helped inhibit the movement of cancer cells by weakening their attraction to a chemical signal that promotes the spread of cancer.

Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found that pomegranate juice appeared to suppress the growth of cancer cells and decrease cancer cell death in men and those assigned male at birth who’ve had preliminary treatment for prostate cancer.

“There are some studies with pomegranate that suggest a role in slowing the growth of prostate cancer,” Zumpano says. “But it should be noted that the studies suggest pomegranate juice and pomegranate fruits should be part of a healthy plant-based diet.”

Other studies suggest pomegranate peel extract has anti-cancer properties and that pomegranate peels could be used for additional medicinal properties.

They promote heart health

Pomegranates have been used for thousands of years as an Ayurvedic medicinal food because of their antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress is related to many chronic diseases including diabetes and heart diseases. Because of its antioxidant properties, some studies have discovered pomegranates can improve oxidative stress factors and, therefore, positively impact these conditions.

In a 2022 comprehensive review of 10 of the most commonly available fruits and their effects on cardiovascular diseases, researchers noted pomegranates and pomegranate juice can have significant benefits for improving a number of heart conditions like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis.

Another 2021 study conducted on rats showed that pomegranate juice reduced the concentration of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol that forms plaque, by 39%, and indicated that it increased the concentration of HDL, the “good” cholesterol, by 27%.

“There are some studies that show pomegranates may help to prevent plaque buildup in your arteries,” Zumpano says. “If heart disease runs in your family, it might make sense to add pomegranate to your diet.”

Are pomegranates healthy?

All signs point to yes: Pomegranates are healthy when incorporated into a heart-healthy diet. Consider sprinkling them atop your salads, oatmeal, quinoa or yogurt. Pomegranates also complement poultry such as chicken and turkey dishes.

Half of a pomegranate is considered one serving of the fruit, which is in season from October through January. So, you have plenty of time to create or try a recipe or two.

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4 Health Benefits of Pomegranates, According to Dietitians

This juicy red fruit delivers antioxidants, fiber and more to help keep you healthy.

Christine Byrne is a journalist, trained chef, and registered dietitian with a decade of experience in food media. She takes a weight-inclusive approach to nutrition and strives to share evidence-based information in a way that is inclusive and empathetic. She writes the Performance Plate column for Outside, and her work regularly appears in dozens of national outlets. Previously, she was a food editor at BuzzFeed and the digital features editor at Self Magazine. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

Maria Laura is EatingWell’s senior nutrition and news editor. As part of the nutrition team, she edits and assigns nutrition-related content and provides nutrition reviews for articles. Maria Laura is a trained dietitian, almond butter lover and food enthusiast with over seven years of experience in nutrition counseling.

pomgegranate arils in white bowl on grey background shot overhead

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.

Digestive Health

“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.

Heart Health

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.

Diabetes Management

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 and 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.

Antioxidant Properties

“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!