Test-tube and human studies have found that pomegranate extract may help reduce the formation of kidney stones, a benefit that’s largely attributed to its antioxidant activity.
In one study, adults ages 18–70 experiencing recurrent kidney stones were given 1,000 mg of pomegranate extract for 90 days. This was found to help inhibit the mechanism by which stones are formed in the body
Additionally, animal studies have found that pomegranate extract can help regulate the concentration of oxalates, calcium, and phosphates in the blood, which are common components of kidney stones
May have antimicrobial properties
Pomegranate compounds may help fight harmful microorganisms such as certain types of bacteria, fungi, and yeast
For instance, both older and newer studies suggest that they may protect the health of your mouth by targeting unwanted oral germs that can become problematic when overgrown — such as ones that cause bad breath and promote tooth decay
A test-tube study found that compounds from pomegranate also had antibacterial effects against Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria found in moist environments that can cause severe illness if ingested
May improve exercise endurance
The polyphenols in pomegranates may increase exercise endurance, the length of time you’re able to partake in a physical activity before getting tired.
One human study found that taking just 1 gram of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before running increased the time to exhaustion by 12%.
Other human research has found that pomegranate supplements have the potential to improve both exercise endurance and muscle recovery.
However, research using pomegranate juice has found no benefit for muscle recovery after exercise that targeted elbow flexors, indicating that more studies are needed on the topic of pomegranates and exercise performance and recovery.
Good for your brain
Pomegranates contain compounds called ellagitannins, which act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation in the body.
As such, they also offer protective benefits for your brain against conditions that are influenced by inflammation and oxidative stress.
Some studies have found that ellagitannins may help protect the brain from developing Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease by reducing oxidative damage and increasing the survival of brain cells.
They may also support recovery from hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
The ellagitannins in pomegranate are believed to help produce a compound in the gut called urolithin A, which has been studied for its ability to reduce inflammation in the brain and delay the onset of cognitive diseases.
Nonetheless, more studies are needed to better understand the potential connection between pomegranate and brain health.
Supports digestive health
Older and newer research suggests that digestive health, determined largely by your gut bacteria, is strongly linked to overall health. As such, it’s important to support your digestive health, and pomegranate can be a part of that effort.
Some older and newer animal studies have found that pomegranate has anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects that require activity in the gut and largely involve its ellagic acid content.
Test-tube studies have also found that pomegranate can increase levels of beneficial gut bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, suggesting that it may have prebiotic effects.
Prebiotics are compounds, generally fibers, that serve as fuel for the good bacteria, or probiotics, in your digestive tract. Prebiotics allow these bacteria to thrive and support a healthier gut microbiome.
Additionally, pomegranate arils are rich in fiber, offering around 3.5 grams per 1/2-cup (87-gram) serving.
Fiber is essential for digestive health and may protect against some digestive conditions, such as constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and diverticulitis.
The bottom line
Pomegranates are juicy, sweet fruits with edible seeds called arils packed tightly inside. They’re rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and even contain some protein.
They’re also full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds such as punicalagins. These have been studied for their protective benefits for heart, urinary, brain, digestive, and prostate health.
Pomegranate may also have anticancer benefits, support exercise endurance and muscle recovery, and fight off harmful germs.
Although human research on some of these potential benefits is lacking, it’s safe to say that pomegranate is a tasty, nutritious addition to your diet.