Pomegranate Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Pomegranate

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

A pomegranate is a ruby-red fruit with juicy seeds—called arils—that can be added to salads, cocktails, and meat- or rice-based entrees. This versatile fruit provides important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and copper, along with a healthy dose of fiber. Like most fruits, it is very low in fat and sodium. While it can be labor-intensive to free the arils from the flesh of the pomegranate, it's worth it for their bright flavor and antioxidants.

Pomegranate Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information, for one medium pomegranate (3-3/8" in diameter), is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 128
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 29g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Sugars: 21g
  • Protein: 3g

Carbs

Pomegranate calories come primarily from carbohydrates. There are two types of carbohydrate in pomegranate. You'll get 21 grams of sugar if you consume a medium-sized fruit. You'll also benefit from 6 grams of fiber, or 21% of the recommended daily intake.

As expected, carb counts, sugars, and calories are different for pomegranate juice compared to the fruit. One cup (8 oz) of 100% pomegranate juice provides 134 calories, 33 grams of carbohydrate, 31 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of fiber, according to USDA data. Pomegranate juice cocktail (which is pomegranate juice blended with other fruit juices and added sugar) usually has more calories, carbs, and sugar than plain pomegranate juice.

The estimated glycemic load (GL) of fresh pomegranate is 18. Glycemic load is an estimated glycemic index that takes into account the serving size of a given food or beverage. It is considered to be more helpful than just using glycemic index for people who are choosing foods based on their effects on blood glucose.

Fats

There is a small amount of fat in pomegranate. There is less than 1 gram each of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and monounsaturated fat in a whole fruit. But these small amounts are not likely to make a significant difference in your diet unless you consume a very large amount of this food.

Protein

Pomegranate provides a small amount of protein. A medium-sized fruit provides 3 grams of protein. You'll get nearly 5 grams of protein from a larger fruit. Pomegranate juice, on the other hand, provides almost no protein (0.4 grams per cup).

Vitamins and Minerals

Whole, fresh pomegranate contains important vitamins and minerals. There is 16mg of vitamin C in a medium-sized fruit, which is about 18% recommended daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. A medium-sized pomegranate also contains 28% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K for women and 21% for men. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps with blood clotting functions in the body.

Recommended daily allowance (RDA) is the daily level sufficient to meet the nutrition requirements of nearly all (97% to 98%) of healthy individuals. Pomegranates are also a good source of folate (15% of RDA), copper (27% of RDA), thiamin (9% of RDA), vitamin B6 (9% of RDA), and potassium (10% of the recommended intake; potassium does not have an RDA).

If you drink pomegranate juice, you'll still benefit from vitamin K, folate, and (some) copper, but the juice provides almost no vitamin C, according to the USDA. However, new products come out every day which may include vitamin C. It is best to check food labels.

Health Benefits

Pomegranate seeds and juice contain compounds and nutrients with health-promoting qualities.

Helps Build Bones, Cartilage, and Muscle

Pomegranates provide lots of vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid). This vitamin is essential for good bone structure, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. It also aids in the absorption of iron and promotes wound healing. Vitamin C must be consumed through the diet because our bodies are unable to make it.

Fights Oxidative Stress

According to the National Institutes of Health, "ongoing research is examining whether vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases in which oxidative stress plays a causal role."

Pomegranates also contain other antioxidant compounds, such as quercetin and anthocyanins, which also work to repair cell damage caused by oxidative stress.

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar and Digestion

You'll get a healthy boost of fiber when you consume pomegranate arils (not juice). Most of us don't get enough fiber in our diets each day. Fiber helps boost satiety, improves digestive health, and may help lower blood cholesterol. It also helps to slow the absorption of sugar so your blood glucose doesn't spike after eating.

Lowers Blood Pressure

A research review analyzing the effect of pomegranate juice on blood pressure suggests that drinking about one cup of the juice can help reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and could be beneficial to people with hypertension and people at risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Improves Exercise Performance

The antioxidants in pomegranate juice can strengthen muscles and help them recover after exercise. They may also improve performance during athletic exercise.

Allergies

Pomegranate allergies are not common, but they are possible. Symptoms may include itching, swelling, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect that you may be allergic to pomegranate, see an allergy specialist to get a proper diagnosis.

Adverse Effects

Certain medications for high cholesterol (commonly called statins) may interact with pomegranate juice. Both pomegranate juice and grapefruit juice have a similar effect on the body, so these and other medications that interact with grapefruit juice may also interact with the juice from pomegranates. If you are on medication, speak with your healthcare provider before including the fruit in your diet to stay safe.

Because pomegranate is rich in vitamin K, it may interfere with the blood clotting medicine Coumadin (warfarin). But appropriate dietary levels of vitamin K vary, so discuss your diet with your doctor if you take this medicine.

Varieties

American grocery stores typically stock only one variety of pomegranate, called the Wonderful. But elsewhere in the world, other varieties with different-colored skin and arils (as well as flavor variations) are cultivated.

When It's Best

The fruit is in season during late summer into early winter. A fresh ripe pomegranate should feel heavy when it is ready to eat. The skin should feel firm and it should have a bright red to deep red color and a leathery appearance. Pomegranates that have started to turn brown are likely past their prime, but abrasions to the fruit do not affect its quality (and you don't eat the skin anyway, so there's no need to discard the fruit if it has marks).

You can also purchase just the pomegranate arils (seeds) in the refrigerated or frozen section of some grocery stores, but they are often more expensive than purchasing the whole fruit.

Storage and Food Safety

Keep your pomegranates intact (whole) until you are ready to eat the arils. A whole fruit will keep at room temperature or in the refrigerator (in a plastic bag) for up to three months. However, the arils are only good for about three days once they are removed from the fruit. Keep fresh arils refrigerated. You can often find containers of pomegranate arils, already removed from the fruit, for sale in the produce section; keep these in the refrigerator, too.

How to Prepare

Pomegranate "seeds" are actually called arils. These juicy round jewels are packed with flavor. Inside each aril is a white seed that you can either eat or spit out, although the seeds provide fiber. Most people prefer not to eat the skin or the white flesh that surrounds the arils. Both are often described as bitter.

Many people are often intimidated by whole pomegranates because removing the seeds can be a chore. But once you have a preferred method down, it becomes easy to do quickly.

There are several different ways to de-seed a pomegranate, but the simplest method is to simply cut the fruit into quarters and immerse the pieces in a large bowl of water. Massage the fruit to remove the seeds and place them in a separate smaller bowl. Then throw away the bowl of water along with the unusable skin and pomegranate flesh. This method also helps prevent staining that may occur if you get juice from the seeds on your clothing.

Once you've got your pomegranate arils, sprinkle them in yogurt, on a salad, or into your sparkling water or eat them alone as a snack.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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