Pomegranate (or Punica granatum) plant is considered either a small tree or a large shrub, while its fruit is often considered to be a large berry. The pomegranate is a symbol of life, longevity, health, femininity, fecundity, knowledge, morality, immortality and spirituality . In Ayurvedic medicine pomegranate has extensively been used for thousands of years and is considered “a pharmacy itself” .
Does modern science back the traditional believes about pomegranate health benefits?
Over the past few decades scientific studies have laid a credible foundation for some of the traditional medical uses of the pomegranate.
Pomegranate fruits are very rich in anthocyanin (potent antioxidant flavonoid) which provide juice with its brilliant color . Besides its antioxidant properties studies have shown that anthocyanin also has anti-carcinogenic potential . Michael Aviram et al.  investigated the effects of pomegranate juice consumption by atherosclerotic patients with carotid artery stenosis on the progression of carotid lesions and changes in oxidative stress and blood pressure. After 12 months of pomegranate juice consumption, serum LDL basal oxidative state was significantly reduced (by 90%), compared to values obtained before pomegranate juice consumption. The same researchers conducted another study which concluded that pomegranate juice has potent anti-atherogenic effects in healthy humans – meaning it may help stop plaque from building up in blood vessels . One animal study  also suggests that pomegranate leaf extract may have some anti-obesity effects. However, this study showed beneficial effects only in mice fed with high-fat diet but not in mice fed with normal diet.
Pic. 1 – Pomegranate seeds in detail
Interestingly, recent research indicates that pomegranates has potent anti-angiogenic effects in healthy humans – in other words, it inhibits development of new blood vessels to supply oxygen and nutrients for tumor growth and metastasis (angiogenesis) .
Researchers from University of California at Los Angeles  report that daily pomegranate juice intake may prevent prostate cancer to recur.
We also managed to find one study  (with no conflicting interests to declare) conducted on 60 volunteers that reported significant increase in salivary testosterone (after 1 and 2 weeks). The study also noted that pomegranate juice intake caused a significant reduction in systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure. In addition, positive scores for mood, anxiety and emotions were noted . However, a similar study in rats showed that testosterone levels were similar to those of the control group .
Safety of Pomegranate
Pomegranate is probably safe as side effects are rare. Despite the commercial availability of pomegranate extract dietary supplements, there have been not too many studies evaluating their safety in humans. Heber and others  carried out a study (on 64 overweight individuals) in order to evaluate the safety of pomegranate extract on human subjects. The researchers conclude that here were no serious adverse events (at does up to 1420 mg/day of pomegranate extract) in any subject studied at either site.
According to WebMD.com : “Some people can have allergic reactions to pomegranate fruit.” and “Pomegranate is possibly unsafe when the root and stems are taken by mouth. The root contains a poison.”
The consumption of pomegranate has grown tremendously due to its reported health benefits. Its rich bioactive profile of pomegranate makes it very nutritious fruit. More and more research provides evidence that continuous supplementation with pomegranate juice or extract may protect against and even improve several diseases. We don’t like to use this word but it just may be as close as it gets to “superfruit”.
Lansky, Ephraim P., and Robert A. Newman. “Punica granatum (pomegranate) and its potential for prevention and treatment of inflammation and cancer.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 109.2 (2007): 177-206.
Jindal, K. K., and R. C. Sharma. Recent Trends in Horticulture in the Himalayas: Integrated Development Under the Mission Mode. Indus Publishing, 2004.
Hernandez, F., et al. “Evolution of juice anthocyanins during ripening of new selected pomegranate (Punica granatum) clones.” European Food Research and Technology 210.1 (1999): 39-42.
Bagchi, D., et al. “Anti-angiogenic, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties of a novel anthocyanin-rich berry extract formula.” Biochemistry (Moscow) 69.1 (2004): 75-80.
Aviram, Michael, et al. “Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation.” Clin Nutr 23.3 (2004): 423-33.
Aviram, Michael, et al. “Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL, and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E–deficient mice.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 71.5 (2000): 1062-1076.
Toi, Masakazu, et al. “Preliminary studies on the anti-angiogenic potential of pomegranate fractions in vitro and in vivo.” Angiogenesis 6.2 (2003): 121-128.
Lei, Fan, et al. “Evidence of anti-obesity effects of the pomegranate leaf extract in high-fat diet induced obese mice.” International Journal of Obesity 31.6 (2007): 1023-1029.
Pantuck, Allan J., et al. “Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer.” Clinical Cancer Research 12.13 (2006): 4018-4026.
Al-Dujaili, Emad, and Nacer Smail. “Pomegranate juice intake enhances salivary testosterone levels and improves mood and well being in healthy men and women.” (2012).
Türk, Gaffari, et al. “Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on sperm quality, spermatogenic cell density, antioxidant activity and testosterone level in male rats.” Clinical nutrition 27.2 (2008): 289.
Heber, David, et al. “Safety and antioxidant activity of a pomegranate ellagitannin-enriched polyphenol dietary supplement in overweight individuals with increased waist size.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55.24 (2007): 10050-10054.
Pomegranate – WebMD.com Retrieved 10. april 2013