Pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a nutrient-dense fruit with numerous medicinal properties.
The following is a list of antioxidants and phytonutrients (active compounds found in plants) specific to each part of the pomegranate:
- Juice: quercetin, anthocyanins, vitamin C, ellagic acid, gallic acid, catechins
- Seeds: conjugated linolenic acid (CLA), linolenic acid, oleic acid, punicic acid
- Peel and pulp: quercetin, gallagic acid, kaempferol, punicalagin
- Roots and bark: gallic acid, punicotannic acid, mannite, pelletierine, n-methylisopelletierine
- Flower: oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, anthocyanins
The outer parts of the pomegranate are consumed typically as extracts, while the inner seeds and juice are what we eat and drink. The inner seeds and juice of the pomegranate have been the focus of most research, which has shown them to provide significant health and athletic benefits.
The antioxidants found in pomegranate juice work in different ways to improve our health and athletic performance. Regarding our workouts and pomegranate juice, we should first understand the exercise-induced stress on the body and how antioxidants can help.
How Does Pomegranate Juice Help?
Pomegranate juice contains powerful antioxidants shown to improve our health and enhance athletic performance. The abundance of polyphenols, quercetin, and nitrates found in pomegranate are shown to specifically improve exercise performance and muscular strength.
Polyphenols are phytochemicals with antioxidant properties found in plant food sources. Polyphenols are also known as phenolics and give fruits like pomegranate their vibrant color. Phenolics provide numerous health benefits including reduced inflammation and protection of our cardiovascular system. Gallic acid is one of the polyphenols in pomegranate juice shown to improve muscle recovery and strength.
Quercetin is a naturally occurring bioflavonoid found in a variety of plant food sources. Bioflavonoids or flavonoids represent a large class of antioxidants shown to reduce inflammation, remove toxins, and decrease cellular damage in the body. Pomegranate juice is a rich source of quercetin shown to help with muscle recovery and improved exercise performance.
Pomegranates are indicated to be rich in nitrates which, according to research, improve athletic performance. Nitrates are chemicals naturally.
Other Health Benefits
Pomegranate fruit and juice is shown to improve athletic performance, but its powerful antioxidant properties also provide numerous other health benefits:
- Fights cancer: Research shows antioxidants found in pomegranate effectively inhibited cancer cell growth and slowed the progression of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
- Heart health: Studies indicate antioxidants found in pomegranate juice provide a cardioprotective effect. Drinking it regularly is said to reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), improve blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol levels.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) alternative: pomegranate is a rich source of polyphenols or phenolics, a natural phytoestrogen shown to be a safer alternative for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), reducing the risk of breast cancer.
Other Juices Improving Athletic Performance
- Beet juice is a rich source of antioxidants and high in nitrate levels. Nitrate is naturally occurring in a variety of plant foods and converts to nitric oxide when consumed. Nitric oxide is said to improve blood flow and lung function, providing better oxygen delivery to working muscles. Active adults and athletes are supplementing with beet juice for improved athletic performance.
- Tomato juice contains essential nutrients and is a rich source of lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant shown to reduce harmful inflammatory chemical levels released by the body during hard workouts. This antioxidant protection helps reduce oxidative stress caused by exercise and the reason many active adults are drinking tomato juice for improved athletic performance.