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Vine Vera continues our series on various fruit extracts for health, wellness, longevity, and skincare. The “superfruits” we’re looking at belong to a class of foods known for their high concentrations of compounds—like antioxidants—that promote overall health and wellbeing. Today, we look at a tasty, tangy—if hard to eat—fruit that many of you will likely be familiar with, and which may have a variety of beneficial effects for health, wellbeing, and skin.
Pomegranates are fruits from the Punica granatum plant, a shrub-like tree originally native to Iran, that’s currently cultivated all over the world, including some people’s backyards in the U.S., as the tree is easily adaptable to a variety of climates and soils.
The tree itself is fairly short and shrubby (when left unpruned), with long, narrow, deep green leaves. Roughly spherical, baseball-sized, crimson red fruits form trumpet-shaped flowers. The fruits themselves—underneath the leathery peel—are packed with tiny little gemlike fruits about the size of individual grains of corn. The seeds of each tiny fruit take up most space, with just a thin, membranous coating around it containing tart, delicious juice. The seeds are technically edible as well, and contain lots of nutrition, but are generally too hard to chew, and are usually spit out after the juice and membrane are chewed/sucked off and enjoyed.
Health, Wellness, and Longevity
Pomegranates, as you’d expect from a superfruit, are full of antioxidants. And in fact, the specific compounds found in pomegranate have undergone laboratory experiments which show that they are effective at stopping free radical damage.
That’s not all, though; pomegranates are also a veritable nutrition powerhouse with high amounts of vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate. The actual seeds themselves, though not commonly eaten, contain a very high amount of dietary fiber, and while unpalatable and rock-hard as is, can be ground up and added to various foods.
The peel of the fruit is inedible as-is, but you can get extracts and dried pomegranate peel products that allow you to consume the nutrition found within. The peel is full of phytochemicals, present in the whole plant, but especially concentrated in the peel, which might provide a number of health benefits. Research is still underway and nothing is conclusive yet, but Pomegranate is being evaluated for potential to help combat heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and many other medical conditions.
The main reason to use pomegranate extract on your skin is that it has a rich antioxidant profile, which has actually been tested and shown to be effective at dealing with free radicals. As such, look for creams, scrubs, and serums that use pomegranate extract, preferably including extract from the peel as well as the fruit.
Due to its mild but potent acidity, pomegranate extracts could also be useful in treating acne, so if salicylic acid is too harsh for your skin, instead grab a scrub or wash with pomegranate extract in it.
Note that while some aspects of pomegranate have been tested, such as its antioxidant power, other claims, like how it can help with various medical issues, are still being evaluated, and nothing is known for sure one way or the other. And as always, if you want to start taking an herbal supplement of any kind, speak with your doctor about it first.