Why Men Need Pomegranates

Chances are, pomegranates aren’t on the top of your list when you’re looking for a fruit that’s easy to eat for men’s health. But few fruits can beat the pomegranate for nutritional value and health benefits (especially for men), so it’s well worth the extra effort to burst through the hard rinds to reach the delicious and nutritious pulp and seeds.

Once you open up the tough, leathery rind, you’ll find a wealth of small sacs called arils. Each red, translucent aril is edible and contains a tiny seed. Bunches of arils are separated into compartments by cream-colored membranes that are not edible.

For those of you who aren’t up for the challenge of entering the interior of a pomegranate, there’s always pomegranate juice. In either case, here’s why men need pomegranates.

Nutritional Powerhouse

One 4-inch pomegranate delivers a powerhouse of nutrition. The fruit delivers 27 percent of the Daily Value (percent DV) of folate (107 micrograms [mcg]), 48 percent DV of vitamin C (29 milligrams [mg]) and a whopping 58 percent DV of vitamin K (46 mcg). In the mineral department, one pomegranate provides 22 percent DV of copper (0.4 mg), 19 percent DV of potassium (666 mg), and 17 percent DV of manganese (0.3 mg).

Fiber, a nutrient men often fail to consume in sufficient amounts, is in abundant supply in pomegranates, with 11 grams (45 percent DV) per fruit. Pomegranates even provide 5 grams of protein, a macronutrient all men can appreciate. [1]

Pomegranates, Diabetes And Metabolic Syndrome

People have used pomegranates as a folk remedy for diabetes and metabolic syndrome for many years, but it is only recently that scientific research has been able to support these claims. A recent report in Food and Function is an example. [2]

The authors, who are from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, explain that research has shown pomegranate has an ability to increase insulin sensitivity, inhibit an enzyme that plays a major role in high glucose levels and improve the transport of glucose. In addition, pomegranate can help reduce total cholesterol levels, improve blood lipid profiles and reduce inflammation. All of these benefits are advantages to individuals at risk for diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

A reason why pomegranates are so healthful, according to the authors, is the presence of plant chemicals called ellagitannins, anthocyanins and phenolic acids, among others. In fact, the researchers noted that ellagitannins “may be responsible for certain benevolent characteristics associated with pomegranate.”

Pomegranates And Prostate Cancer

Pomegranates may provide a real benefit for men fighting prostate cancer. Once again, ellagitannins are part of the story, as research has shown the pomegranate ingredient can inhibit the growth of new blood vessels, which are needed to nourish prostate tumors. [3]

Pomegranate juice proved to be an advantage among 46 men who had undergone surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. At the beginning of the two-year University of California, Los Angeles study, men were experiencing a doubling of their PSA level every 15 months. After they were given one cup of pomegranate juice daily, the average PSA doubling time was 54 months. Two added bonuses: Prostate cancer cell death increased by 17 percent, and spread of cancer cells declined by 12 percent after the men took pomegranate juice. [4]

Pomegranates And Erectile Dysfunction

Can pomegranates really help with erectile dysfunction? So far, several studies have indicated pomegranate or pomegranate juice has been beneficial. A rabbit study compared the effect of pomegranate extract antioxidants versus water on penile blood flow and erection ability. Investigators found that pomegranate significantly improved both of these factors, as well as smooth muscle relaxation (important for erectile function) when compared with placebo. [5]

If a rabbit study isn’t convincing, a trial conducted with 53 men who had mild to moderate erectile dysfunction may be better. This was a crossover trial, which means all the men took pomegranate juice (for four weeks) and placebo (four weeks), with a two-week washout period in between. Erectile function improved in 42 men; for 25 of them, the improvement occurred after they drank pomegranate juice. [6]

Enjoying Pomegranates

Pomegranates offer a variety of health benefits for men, but it’s up to you how you will enjoy the fruit to reap the advantages. Eating fresh pomegranate is the best way to get all the fruit’s nutrients, but you can also try 100 percent pomegranate juice or take pomegranate supplements.

Sources

[1]Nutritiondata.self.com http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2038/2

[2]Pomegranate: a fruit that ameliorates metabolic syndrome. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23060097

[3] Ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract inhibits angiogenesis in prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18202771

[4] Phase II study of pomegranate juice for men with rising prostate-specific antigen following surgery or radiation for prostate cancer.  http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/12/13/4018.long

[5] Dietary antioxidants improve arteriogenic erectile dysfunction. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20584092

[6] Efficacy and safety of pomegranate juice on improvement of erectile dysfunction in male patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17568759

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Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.