Pomegranate's Powerful Health Benefits
Pomegranates Throughout the Ages
Ancient legend, world religions, history and traditional medicine have all celebrated the unique beauty and health benefits of the pomegranate. It is a fruit of legend and power - a sacred symbol of human civilization.
Mankind has revered the magical, mystical pomegranate since the dawn of recorded history. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and the peoples of China, India and the Middle East found
its properties to be life-giving and invigorating.
This beautiful fruit has played a central role in the mythological and spiritual foundations of cultures worldwide. Christianity, Judaism, Greek Orthodox, Hinduism, and ancient Middle Eastern philosophies all revered its power and mysterious properties.
In Buddhism, the pomegranate is considered a blessed fruit. In Judaism, it represents sanctity, fertility and abundance.
Pomegranates are a powerful symbol in Christian art representing the resurrection and eternal life. In works by Botticelli, Raphael and Filippino Lippi pomegranates represent plenitude, hope, spiritual fruitfulness and chastity.
Known as "The Fruit of Life," pomegranates were believed to spring from The Garden of Paradise. As the traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth, they became a popular wedding present in some countries, expressing the wish, "May you have as many children as there are seeds!"
Pomegranates figured prominently in Greek myths. In one of the most famous, Hades, god of the underworld, used the fruit to tempt Persephone, daughter of Zeus, into marriage. Hades captured her attention with the alluring beauty of the pomegranate and by telling her that its seeds were jewels to be kissed and savored. Sadly the seduction of
Persephone with a pomegranate resulted in her being imprisoned for four months every year in the Underworld, while the earth experienced cold winter. When she was released for eight months each year, the earth warmed, trees and flowers bloomed and vegetables grew. Thanks to the myth, pomegranates forever became a symbol of the cycle of life and death.
The Pomegranate as Traditional Medicine
Almost every major culture loved the pomegranate so much that for nearly 8,000 years people have incorporated the delicate flowers, the sparkling ruby seeds (called arils), the juice and tangy rind, not only in their sacred practices but also into their foods, their medicines and their cosmetics.
It is believed that the beautiful Helen of Troy, with a face that launched 1,000 ships, used the juice of the pomegranate, both as a healthful drink, and as rouge for her cheeks and lips.
The pomegranate was also thought to bestow invincibility upon the person who enjoyed its glittering sweet tartness.
Ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine traditionally used pomegranate to lower fever. In Greek medicine the flowers were used to treat diabetes, while the root and bark were used to stop bleeding, dysentery and heal ulcers. The ancient Egyptians used the fruit to combat intestinal worms.
For over 4,000 years humans have cultivated pomegranates for their medicinal properties. Traditional healers experimented with its juice, seeds, leaves, flowers, bark, roots and skin.
The Pomegranate and Modern Science
But the golden age of the pomegranate is just dawning. In addition to an ancient, glorious and legendary past, this beautiful fruit is on the edge of a promising future in medical science.
It is only recently that modern science has accelerated its interest in the health benefits of pomegranates. In 1964 researchers conducted the first study on pomegranate. It was another 20 years before the second study was published. In 2004 there were 20 published studies. Today, there are over 400 studies on the benefits of pomegranates to human health.
This scientific research has revealed that the pomegranate contains three primary powers: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hormone balancing.
- Antioxidant polyphenols in pomegranates help protect the body against 'free radicals" - unstable molecules that cause cellular damage to our bodies over time. The juice of the pomegranate has been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices, including cranberry or blueberry, and more even than red wine or green tea. The pomegranate is particularly rich in certain tannins containing these antioxidant polyphenols such as punicalagin, anthocyanins and ellagic acid.
- Anti-inflammatory compounds in pomegranate include punicic acid, a fatty acid found in the oil of pomegranate seeds. Punicic acid is known to inhibit the effects of certain inflammatory compounds in the body.
- Natural phytoestrogens (estrogens from plants) are more abundant in pomegranate than in any other botanical source. These weaker plant estrogens block the effects of more powerful human-produced estrogens by fitting into the cell receptor sites for estrogen. These weak, safe estrogens can fit in these specialized "keyholes," blocking the more powerful and harmful estrogens.
In addition, pomegranates have been found to contain:
- Flavanols, mild phytoestrogens that include kaempferol, quercetin and luteolin; and
- Apigenin, a special compound which acts like progesterone, helping to counterbalance estrogen's activities. It may also help prevent the breakdown of progesterone, further preserving healthy progesterone levels. By helping your body to maintain progesterone levels, apigenin helps keep estrogen in check, supporting your cholesterol health, healthy fat metabolism, a good libido, strong bones and overall health.
- Ascorbic, citric, fumaric and malic acids;
- Essential amino acids;
- Vitamins A, B, C, E and K;
- Potassium, folate, copper and phosphorous; and
- Other powerfully beneficial substances.
Pomegranate health benefits are scientifically proven
The hundreds of research studies already conducted show that pomegranates may:
- Help maintain normal LDL cholesterol levels;
- Help support normal cardiovascular health;
- Relieve the effects of menopause;
- Help support a healthy immune system;
- Help support normal blood pressure levels;
- Help maintain healthy joint function;
- Assist in maintaining oral/dental health;
- Combat and prevent chronic inflammation;
- Help support healthy digestion;
- Promote prostate health;
- Help maintain healthy skin;
- Contain a wide range of other beneficial factors for your well being.
Pomegranate researchers are hopeful they will discover major medical breakthroughs in a wide range of other areas. Scientists around the world are in a race to be among the first to reveal the totality of pomegranate's complex health powers.
For more information about the science behind the health benefits of pomegranates, Click Here.
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