Can you eat pomegranate seeds whole?
In this paper, I will answer the question: “Can you eat pomegranate seeds whole?” And I will give you an overview of the nutritional aspects of this healthy fruit and some amazing tips to include it in your diet.
Can you eat pomegranate seeds whole?
The answer is yes. You can absolutely pomegranate seeds whole.
Hundreds of tasty seeds are included within the fruit. Each seed is coated in an aril, which is red, juicy, and tasty.
The edible parts of the fruit are the seeds and arils, which can be eaten raw or processed into pomegranate juice, but the peel is discarded.
Pomegranate seeds are rich sources of various fatty acids, especially unsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, flavonoids, anthocyanins and have diverse advantageous properties to health including in vivo anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities (1).
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Pomegranate’s botanical features:
The pomegranate is one of the oldest known edible fruits and has been used for pharmaceutical purposes since ancient times. The domestication process took place independently in various regions and not only in the Mediterranean region (2,3).
The pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is a plant of the Lythraceae family. It’s an angiosperm that grows to be a shrub or small tree with a height of 3–5 meters. The leaves are oval and tiny. The red flowers are bisexual and have 5 to 7 petals. The pomegranate is self-pollinated as well as cross-pollinated by insects (2).
Orange-colored berries make up the fruits. A thick peel covers the fruits, which ranges in color from yellow to red.
Berries are distinguished by thin interior membranes that suspend and protect seeds surrounded by juicy aril. When the fruits are fully ripe, they burst, releasing the seeds. Pomegranates can only be grown in tropical and subtropical climates. Although it can be found in a variety of regions around the world, the best fruit comes from areas with extremely high temperatures and a dry climate, which promotes ripening.
The aril (or edible section of the fruit), accounts for 52 percent of the total weight of the fruit, with 78 percent of the juice and 22 percent of the seeds (3).
Fresh juice contains 85.4 % water and 15.6 % dry substance, composed of sugars, organic acids, pectins, anthocyanins, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals.
The white seeds hidden beneath the juice pockets, on the other hand, are high in lipids, proteins, and punicalagin. They also contain the majority of the fruit’s fiber. They still have an important content of polyphenols such as flavonoids, anthocyanins, hydroxybenzoic acids, hydroxycinnamic acids, and tannins with beneficial effects on human health. In addition, pomegranate seeds are rich sources of unsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic, oleic, palmitic, stearic, linolenic, arachidic, and palmitoleic acids, phospholipids that mainly include lecithin, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylcholine, and lysophosphatidylethanolamine (1).
Polyphenols, primarily hydrolyzing tannins and anthocyanins, are abundant in the rind and are responsible for the bitter flavor and color.
External traits such as rind coloring, as well as the absence of mechanical damage, are used to determine the degree of maturity of a fruit.
When to harvest pomegranate?
Pomegranate harvesting does not begin until 3-4 years after planting. The fruit will ripen about 6-7 months after flowering once the trees have reached that maturity age, therefore harvest season for pomegranates begins in September for early ripening cultivars and continues through October for delayed ripening cultivars.
Pomegranate fruit should be picked when fully ripe and with a deep red hue, as it does not continue to ripen after harvest. When you tap the fruit with your finger, it emits a metallic sound, it’s time to start harvesting pomegranates. The pomegranate has a long storage life. It is best maintained at a temperature of 32° to 41° F and can be kept for a period of 7 months within this temperature range and at 80 to 85% relative humidity without shrinking or spoiling. The fruits improve in storage, becoming juicier and more flavorful (2).
What are the health benefits of pomegranate?
Pomegranate consumption has been related to a number of health advantages.
Pomegranate arils are high in minerals and antioxidants, which can aid to prevent or delay cellular damage.
Pomegranate juice, in fact, has three times the amount of antioxidants as other antioxidant-rich beverages like green tea.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, pomegranate arils provide a variety of nutrients and are a perfect supplement to your daily required fruit serving.
It is high in dietary fiber and health-promoting substances such as vitamins (vitamin C, A, and folic acid) and minerals (such as potassium). It also contains phenolic chemicals, alkaloids, triterpenes, and sterols in abundance.
Pomegranates are also high in unsaturated fatty acids, such as omega 5 punicic acid, which makes up around 70% of the seed oil. These chemicals have been linked to a variety of health benefits (in addition to their nutritional value) and are the basis for viewing pomegranate as a functional food.
According to research, the pomegranate, in its various forms, provides the following advantages:
- Protection from oxidative stress-related:
Oxidative stresses present an essential factor behind various diseases like liver abnormalities, lipid peroxidation, decrease in acrosome reactions and fusogenic ability, and renal failure (1). Pomegranate includes a healthy combination of antioxidant properties that may help to avoid diseases caused by oxidative stress.
Commercial pomegranate juice had three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea. Commercial juices taken from whole pomegranates had more antioxidant activity than experimental juices produced simply from the arils. Numerous studies investigating the effect of pomegranate juice as well as pomegranate seed oil showed their effect in protecting oxidative stress-induced damage in brain, liver, kidney and nephron cells (1)
- Cardioprotective activity :
Numerous preclinical studies (in vitro and animal models) have shown that pomegranate-related products (fruit, fresh and/or concentrated pomegranate juice, flowers, and pomegranate extract) and/or their polyphenols can reduce cardiovascular risk markers (blood lipids, insulin resistance, glucose, lipid peroxidation, and so on). Polyunsaturated fatty acids play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, among other heart problems. The major pomegranate fatty acid studied is punicic acid, which can be described as a polyunsaturated fatty acid and a conjugated α-linolenic acid (3).
- Reduce high blood pressure:
There is significant evidence that pomegranate-derived products have a long-term beneficial effect on blood pressure management, particularly pomegranate juice.
These positive effects were discovered in randomized controlled trials in which patients had lower blood pressure following a 4-week supplementation period and were able to reduce the acute blood pressure increase caused by a high-fat meal or weightlifting exercise.
Studies have suggested that the principal action mechanisms of active pomegranate compounds may include the following: increased serum antioxidant capacity, decreased plasma lipids and lipid peroxidation, decreased oxidized-LDL uptake by macrophages, decreased intima media thickness, decreased atherosclerotic lesion areas, enhanced biological actions of nitric oxide and decreased systolic blood pressure (1).
How to get the most out of pomegranates?
Pomegranates taste best when eaten raw or as a garnish.
Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of this nutritious fruit:
- Select the appropriate fruit:
Pomegranates that are found in local grocery shops are those that are picked when they are ripe, so choosing ripe ones is simple. The fruit should be heavy and have a thick skin. Small scratches on the outside have no effect on the inside of the pomegranate.
- Get the right portion:
A person should consume two cups of fruit every day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
For an easy extraction of the seeds, cut the fruit in half. Then, into a bowl, then spoon out the little red diamonds.
Pomegranate can be a perfect topping for salads, yogurt, cereal, desserts, and other dishes.
- Preserve the fruit:
To make pomegranate arils last longer, especially when you bought too many ones, you can make marmalade. For this, use citrus pulp and rind and add sugar..
- Get some juice!
You can also juice pomegranates to save money on buying the juice in a bottle.
Use a juicer or simply press the fruit with a strainer to separate the fibers.
Juice can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for up to six months.
Pomegranate is a versatile fruit and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes in a variety of ways.
In this paper, I answered the question: “Can you eat pomegranate seeds whole?” and I discussed the numerous health benefits of this fruit and provided creative methods to incorporate it into a healthy diet.
Feel free to contact me for any questions related to this subject.
- Fourati, Mariam, et al. Bioactive compounds and pharmacological potential of pomegranate (Punica granatum) seeds-a review. Plant Foods Human Nutr, 2020, 75, 477-486.
- Kumari, Archana, et al. Pomegranate (Punica granatum)—overview. Int j pharmac chem sci, 2012, 1, 1218-1222.
- Melgarejo-Sánchez, P., Núñez-Gómez, D., Martínez-Nicolás, J.J. et al. Pomegranate variety and pomegranate plant part, relevance from bioactive point of view: a review. Bioresour. Bioprocess. 8, 2 (2021).