Pomegranate 101: Nutritional Values and Benefits

Last Updated on June 7, 2022 by Michael Joseph

The pomegranate is a popular fruit variety with some interesting nutritional benefits.

This article provides an overview of pomegranate fruit, its characteristics, nutritional values, and potential benefits.

What Are Pomegranates?

Whole and Half Pomegranates Showing Seeds, Next To Pomegranate Juice.

The pomegranate is a juicy fruit that grows throughout the Mediterranean, Indian subcontinent, parts of Central and South-East Asia, some areas of Africa, and parts of the United States (1).

Known scientifically as Punica granatum, the pomegranate looks slightly like a red apple from its outer appearance.

However, cutting the fruit in half reveals hundreds of little red seeds. These seeds are called arils, and they are part of the pomegranate that people consume.

The arils have a sweet and juicy taste, and they are a good source of vitamins, fiber, and polyphenols.

People often eat pomegranates as the whole fruit, but many different food and drink products feature pomegranates.

For example, pomegranate juice is popular around the world. Also, some Middle-Eastern dishes contain pomegranate seeds as an ingredient.

The pomegranate tree is thought to have originated within the region from modern-day Iran to the Himalayas in Northern India (1).

Botanically, the pomegranate is a berry.

Key Point: The pomegranate is a fruit that contains lots of edible red seeds.

Nutrition Facts

Here are the full nutritional values for a 282-gram pomegranate fruit.

The source of the nutritional data is the USDA’s FoodData Central database. Daily values have been calculated using the FDA’s published daily values (2, 3).

NameAmount% Daily Value (DV)
Calories234 kcal
Carbohydrate52.7 g19% DV
Fiber11.3 g40% DV
Sugars38.6 g
Fat3.3 g4% DV
Saturated0.338 g2% DV
Monounsaturated0.262 g
Polyunsaturated0.223 g
Omega-30 g
Omega-60.223 g
Protein4.71 g9% DV
Table 1: Nutrition facts per 282-gram pomegranate fruit

Vitamins

  • Vitamin K: 39% of the daily value
  • Vitamin C: 32% DV
  • Folate, DFE: 27% DV
  • Pantothenic acid (B5): 21% DV
  • Thiamin (B1): 16% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 12% DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 11% DV
  • Vitamin E: 11% DV
  • Niacin (B3): 5% DV
  • Choline: 4% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 0% DV
  • Vitamin A, RAE: 0 % DV
  • Vitamin D: 0 % DV

(DFE refers to dietary folate equivalents, ‘RAE’ refers to retinol activity equivalents).

Minerals

  • Copper: 50% DV
  • Manganese: 15% DV
  • Potassium: 14% DV
  • Zinc: 9% DV
  • Phosphorus: 8% DV
  • Magnesium: 8% DV
  • Iron: 5% DV
  • Selenium: 3% DV
  • Calcium: 2% DV
  • Sodium: <1% DV

Phytochemical Content

Pomegranates are a rich source of polyphenols.

Scientific research has demonstrated that pomegranates contain significant amounts of the following polyphenols (4, 5, 6):

  • Ellagic acid
  • Gallic acid
  • Punicalin
  • Punicalagin

It is thought that the phytochemicals found in pomegranate may account for some of the fruit’s potential benefits recorded in human trials (7).

Key Point: Pomegranates contain a broad range of nutrients. They are mainly a source of carbohydrates and provide good amounts of copper, vitamins C and K, and folate.

Benefits of Pomegranate

According to nutritional data and scientific research, here is a summary of some of the proven and potential benefits of consuming pomegranate.

Pomegranates Are An Excellent Sources of Folate and Vitamins C and K

As shown in the nutrition facts section, pomegranate provides a rich source of folate and vitamins C and K.

Folate is an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in healthy pregnancies and helps to prevent complications, such as neural tube defects (8, 9).

Vitamin C plays a vital role in the immune system and, when consumed at sufficiently high levels, may help to lower the risk of various chronic diseases (10, 11).

Vitamin K is an important nutrient for bone health, and the body requires it for blood clotting (12, 13, 14).

Pomegranates Provide a Broad Range of Essential Minerals

Not only do pomegranates offer high levels of several vitamins, but they also provide good amounts of numerous minerals.

For instance, a single pomegranate fruit supplies more than 10% of the recommended daily value for copper, manganese, and potassium. Further, one pomegranate contains more than 5% of the recommended daily value for zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron (2, 3).

High In Fiber

The pomegranate is certainly a high-fiber fruit with more than 11 grams of fiber per fruit (2).

A higher dietary fiber intake is consistently and significantly associated with many benefits.

Most notable among these, fiber is strongly associated with a lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular, and all-cause mortality (15, 16).

Pomegranate May Be Beneficial For Arthritis

Some recent research has suggested that pomegranate may contain components that could benefit people with arthritis.

For instance, a 2021 systematic review investigating the effects of pomegranate on osteoarthritis was published in the Health Promotion Perspectives journal (17).

The review looked at twenty-three studies on pomegranate’s effects on osteoarthritis, covering human, animal, and cell studies. Overall, the review determined that pomegranate has a beneficial impact on several clinical features of osteoarthritis and lowers inflammation and symptoms of oxidative stress.

However, the authors noted a need for further large human studies to investigate the area better.

A further systematic review, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice in 2021, examined the potential effects of pomegranate on rheumatoid arthritis (18).

Based on twelve studies, the systematic review found that pomegranate can lower inflammation and oxidative stress in rheumatoid arthritis.

The authors assert that their results justify further clinical research into the potential beneficial effects of pomegranate on rheumatoid arthritis.

Key Point: Initial research suggests that pomegranate may contain components that have a beneficial impact on rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. However, more significant human trials are necessary to confirm the fruit’s potential efficacy.

Pomegranate Juice May Lower Blood Pressure

Pomegranate juice offers a concentrated source of the nutrients and polyphenols available in pomegranate.

Research has looked into the potential beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on various health markers.

A 2017 systematic review published in Pharmacological Research analyzed eight randomized controlled trials (RCT) that investigated the effect of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure (19).

The results showed that pomegranate juice lowered systolic blood pressure irrespective of the study length or dose consumed (mean: -4.96 mm Hg).

However, there was only a borderline significant effect on diastolic blood pressure when the pomegranate juice dose was higher than 240 ml.

May Lower Inflammation and Improve Oxidative Stress

While some inflammation is a normal part of healing and repair, chronically high levels of inflammation are associated with numerous chronic diseases (20).

Oxidative stress is characterized by an excessively high level of free radicals in the body that overwhelm the body’s defense (antioxidant) system. Once again, chronically high levels of oxidative stress can cause damage to various tissues, and it is linked with chronic disease (21, 22).

Interestingly, findings from several studies suggest that pomegranate may potentially lower inflammation and oxidative stress levels. However, the results are somewhat mixed.

Oxidative stress

A recent 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 RCTs examined the impact of pomegranate on oxidative stress. The review was published in the Clinical Nutrition ESPEN journal (23).

The study found that pomegranate lowered several oxidative stress markers, but there was heterogeneity between the included trials. Heterogeneity means that not all trials showed the same results, which casts more doubt on the finding than consistent results.

As a result, the researchers argue that more well-designed RCTs are necessary to confirm these potential beneficial effects of pomegranate on oxidative stress.

Inflammation

Some studies have demonstrated that pomegranate may help to lower inflammation levels:

  • In 41 patients using hemodialysis, a randomized crossover trial in 41 patients examined the effect of pomegranate juice on cardiometabolic risk factors and inflammation. Compared to the control group, the pomegranate juice group had significantly increased antioxidant capacity and decreased levels of the inflammatory markers, malondialdehyde and interleukin-6 (IL-6) (24).
  • A 2014 RCT published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences examined the effects of pomegranate juice on inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes. The results showed that, compared to the control group, there was a 32% and 30% decrease in inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and IL-6, respectively, in the pomegranate juice group (25).
Key Point: Existing research suggests that pomegranate may have a beneficial effect on oxidative stress and inflammation. However, larger well-controlled studies are necessary to confirm this.

There Are Many Different Cultivars of Pomegranate

Most of us think of the red fruit when we hear ‘pomegranate.’

Interestingly, there are numerous pomegranate cultivars, some of which are pretty unique.

Based on information from Purdue University’s NewCROP resource for pomegranate, here is a list of some of the most famous pomegranate cultivars and their characteristics (26):

Cultivar nameColorSizeNotable characteristics
AlandiRed/pinkMedium
DholkaYellow/red with purple-white or white seedsLarge
KabulDark red with dark red seedsLarge
Muscat redRedSmall to mediumJuicy
Muscat WhiteCreamy white and pink, cream-colored seedsLargeSweet taste
Paper shellPale yellow and pink, reddish-pink seedsMedium to largeJuicy
PoonaDark red and grayish, with orange-red or pink-red seedsLarge
Spanish RubyBright red, rose-colored seedsSmall to medium
VelloduRedMedium to largeVery juicy
WonderfulDark purple to red with red seedsLargeOblate shape
Table 2: common pomegranate cultivars and their characteristics

Some cultivars do not have the pomegranate’s characteristic red outer appearance. For example, the ‘Muscat white’ cultivar has a creamy surface with cream-colored seeds inside.

Pomegranate Seeds Have Many Culinary Uses

Persian Pomegranate Chicken Stew (Fesenjan).
Persian Pomegranate Chicken Stew (Fesenjan)

While most eat pomegranate as fruit, some exciting recipes feature pomegranate seeds.

For instance, pomegranate seeds are an ingredient used in some cooked dishes in the Mediterranean and Middle-East regions.

One of the most famous is Persian pomegranate chicken (there is a good recipe here).

Aside from eating them plain, here are some other ways to eat pomegranate seeds:

  • Add them to cereal or yogurt with nuts/seeds
  • Make pomegranate juice
  • Use pomegranate seeds in a smoothie
  • Put them in curries and thick stews
  • Add pomegranate seeds to a stir-fry
  • Combine pomegranate seeds with other chopped pieces of fruit and berries to make a fruit salad
Key Point: There are many different ways to use pomegranate seeds, from curries and stews to fruit salads, smoothies, juices, and more.

Final Thoughts

Pomegranates are tasty, nutrient-rich fruit with several potential benefits.

Among the nutrients they provide, they are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and copper.

Additionally, pomegranates taste great and are a versatile ingredient that we can use in many different ways.

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