Pomegranate Paradise: Antioxidant ability of Punica granatum L

Everybody knows that slicing a pomegranate can be a great challenge as we fear its bright red juice might splatter over our fingers and hands and possibly our crimp, nicely pressed outfit. Despite this possible disaster, we are constantly intrigued by the intense red pulp that the pomegranate possesses. These bright colour pigments are nature’s match-making device as it attracts bees and Pomegranate2other pollinators to the plant where they pollinate and disperse the seeds throughout the fields. It is also used to increase the aesthetic value of foods [1]. But what exactly contributes to the beautiful colour of this fruit and its outer skin?

At present, the pomegranate plant, Punica granatum L is cultivated in various regions of the world such as India, Spain, Israel, United States and the Middle East due to its increasing popular demand [2]. Throughout history, the entire plant has been used for medicinal and food purposes including its roots, bark, leaves, flowers and its fruit pulp and seeds being the most widely used [5]. The applications of the pomegranate fruit spreads over a wide variety of uses ranging from a food product to a health supplement and even used in the cosmetics industry as the public become more aware of the health benefits this super food carries with it. Many are familiar with consuming the fresh fruit or processing it into juices, wines and extracts. Studies have shown that commercial pomegranate juice contains exceptionally high antioxidant activities compared to other fruit juices, red wine and green tea [2].

Pomegranates are known to contain a rich source of these colour molecules (from the family of polyphenols) known as ‘Anthocyanins’. These antioxidant flavonoids contribute to the brilliant red colour of the pomegranate juice that increases with intensity as the fruit ripens [5]. Anthocyanins have shown to prevent oxidative damage in larger plants and ultra-violet rays from the sun [1]. These molecules are found in many fruits and vegetables and have shown properties that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and inflammation through its anti-oxidative and free-radical scavenging properties [3]. The pomegranate fruit is also inevitably linked to issues on fertility, birth and ‘longevity’. This fruit filled with numerous seeds have shown to influence sperm quality and testosterone levels. Studies carried on lab rats showed an increase in cell density and protection of their spermatozoa when pomegranate juice was administered to them for 52 days [4]. Apart from carrying a wide array of anthocyanincs, pomegranate juice and pomegranate seeds are also full of catechins, a phytochemical, ellagic and gallic acids all found to possess antioxidant properties as well [6]. These molecules may have the ability to decrease susceptibility of diseases caused by LDL and increase the uptake of HDL, as a result reducing atherosclerosis lesions from occurring.

You can incorporate your daily antioxidant requirements through all sources of pomegranate, such as a juice or smoothie. I use Morlife’s 98% pure pomegranate juice and blend extra superfoods like blueberries, strawberries, kiwi and watermelon (for its high water content) to make a delicious refreshing fruit juice. If you are feeling adventurous, you could also have the pomegranate straight from the fruit or mix it a little with a berry yoghurt or a fresh garden salad.

 

seeding pomegranateHere are some simple steps to seed a pomegranate

1. Slice open the crown of the pomegranate fruit and remove the pith

2. Score the rind of the pomegranate, along the length of the fruit and all around it. Take care not to get into the seeds

3. Soak the fruit in a large bowl of cold water (crown facing down) for 10-15minutes

4. Once soften, break apart the rind and remove seeds from the membrane. The seeds are relatively dense and will sink to the bottom.

5. Remove the rind and the membrane leaving only the seeds behind.

6. Drain the seeds and allow to dry. Eat immediately or store in refrigerator. (Lasts between 1-2 weeks)

 

References
1. Stintzing FC and Carle R, 2004 ‘Functional properties of anthocyanins and betalains in plants, food, and in human nutrition’, Trends in Food Science & Technology, 15:1 (19-38)
2. Mertens-Talcott SU et al., 2006 ‘Absorption, Metabolism, and Antioxidant Effects of Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) Polyphenols after Ingestion of a Standardized Extract in Healthy Human Volunteers’, Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 54: 8956-8961
3. Noda Y et al., 2002 ‘Antioxidant Activities of Pomegranate Fruit Extract and Its Anthocyanidins: Delphinidin, Cyanidin, and Pelargonidin’, J. Agric. Food Chem., 50: 1(166-171)
4. Turk G et al, 2008 ‘Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on sperm quality, spermatogenic cell density, antioxidant activity and testosterone level in male rats’, Clinical Nutrition, 27 (289- 296)
5. Lansky EP and Newman RA, 2007 ‘Punica granatum (pomegranate) and its potential for prevention and treatment of inflammation and cancer’, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 109:2 (177- 206)
6. Aviram M et al., 2000, ‘Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E–deficient mice’, Am J Clin Nutr, 71: 1062- 76

 

2 Comments

  1. Pomegranate or Anar as it is called in the East (Punica granatum), serves the body from head to foot. It is great in good health to prevent disease as also in illhealth as a medicine. Apart from the antioxidant properties it is a potent combination of Luteolin, Ellagic acid and Punicic acid that inhibit growth of prostate cancer cells and inhibit their growth.

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