February is all about the heart, and not just because of Valentine’s Day! As Heart Month in Canada, this month we focus on the importance of cardiovascular health and all of the things we can do to keep our heart functioning happily at its optimal level!
Heart disease is the 2nd leading cause of death in Canada, and “refers to the buildup of plaque in the heart's arteries that could lead to a heart attack, heart failure, or death.” A buildup of plaque can cause hardening of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, which causes decreased blood flow that can result in heart attacks or strokes. The good news is, there are a lot of things we can do to improve heart health, including staying physically active, not smoking, avoiding alcohol intake, and eating more foods with beneficial antioxidants. One such food is the mighty superfood pomegranate!
Many studies have shown pomegranates to have antioxidant properties that are uniquely able to increase the activity of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and also help decrease blood pressure. Some studies have even shown that consuming pomegranate juice can actually attenuate or reverse heart disease, with some patients showing positive results over a 3-month trial period.  You see, not only is it tasty, consuming pomegranate is actually working wonders for you!
Pomegranate is a superfood
Per 1 fruit (250g):
- 208 calories
- 47 (g) carbohydrates
- 34g sugar
- 10g fibre
- 590mg Potassium
- 26 mg vitamin C
- 41 micrograms (μg) of vitamin K
- 95μg of folate
In a single pomegranate fruit, the majority of carbohydrates are in the form of sugars, with 34g of sugar comprising the 47g of total carbohydrates. But not to worry, pomegranates are quite low on the glycemic index scale, with a value of 18. Foods that have a low GI value are better for us as they can help you feel fuller longer and don’t cause our blood sugar to spike!
Other Health Benefits for Men and Women
Besides heart health, there are plenty of reasons for men and women alike to include pomegranate seeds or juice in their diet. The same antioxidants that we mentioned above as being beneficial for heart health also help block free radical damage, minimizing the negative effects of the sun and general aging. It’s also thought to contain natural antimicrobials from the presence of vitamin C, which can help fight off bacteria and fungi in your skin such as P. acnes bacteria (a precursor to breakouts!). These can help whether you eat them or use them in topical applications, like moisturizers or scrubs.
Pomegranate is also thought to assist with weight management due to its dietary fibre content, which can enhance satiety and prevent overeating. Punicic acid, found in pomegranate seed oil, has been shown to help reduce body fat.
Another area where pomegranate has been discovered to be beneficial is in fertility benefits for both men and women. The antioxidant properties could potentially increase blood flow to the uterus, which can promote healthy uterine lining for implantation in women. For men, antioxidants can assist with overall sperm health as well as concentration and motility. The presence of folic acid and essential vitamins like Vitamins C and E are really important for a healthy pregnancy!
So, have we convinced you that pomegranate is an ideal fruit to keep both your heart and taste buds happy? If you have any fantastic pomegranate recipes, we’d love to hear from you!