Every once in a while, there comes a food that actually lives up to the hype surrounding it - pomegranate might be that food.
A team of Swiss scientists published an article earlier this year in the journal Nature suggesting that pomegranates may have anti-aging properties. These scientists discovered that after consuming pomegranates or drinking its juice, a compound in the fruit is broken down by bacteria in the stomach to produce a compound called urolithin A (UA). When they exposed mice to this compound they lived twice as long as mice that were not exposed to the compound. The mice exposed to UA were also 42 percent better at long distance running. It is believed that the key to UA is its ability to improve mitochondrial and muscle function. The team is currently working to create a nutritional supplement, but until that hits the market you can just stock up on pomegranate fruit and juice.
Pomegranates have also been shown to have a number of other beneficial properties besides its anti-aging effects. The Pharmacological Research journal showed that the fruit can lower systolic blood pressure independent of the duration or amount consumed, which means even casual consumption can be good for you. It may even have anti-cancer potential. Research in the journal of Nutrition and Cancer reported that, when mice ingested pomegranate extract, they were less likely to suffer from DNA damage when exposed to x-rays and they had higher levels of antioxidant enzymes. Over time, DNA damage can lead to cancer so by preventing the damage in the first place cancer risk can be reduced in the long term.
Want a seasonal connection to pomegranates? Chronically eating the type of diet usually associated with the holidays, one high in fat, sugar and cholesterol can lead to obesity and diabetes. Over time, this can take a toll on your liver and increase your risk for a disease called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. A few recent studies show that regular consumption of pomegranate juice can prevent this type of liver disease, even in the presence of other risk factors like obesity and high cholesterol. So, adding some pomegranates to your holiday dishes might reduce the long term effects of all the food you might eat. While this isn’t an excuse to over indulge, it can help undo that Thanksgiving damage.
In addition to its long term benefits, pomegranates contribute to a healthy diet since they are chocked full of beneficial nutrients. Though it may contain 24 grams of sugar a cup of the fruit has:
- 7 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of protein
- 30 percent Vitamin C
- 36 percent Vitamin K
- 16 percent folate
- 12 percent potassium
Look out kale, it looks like you’ve got some competition.
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