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  • Jovita Turan

Ancient Treasure - Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.)

by Jovita Turan, July 11, 2020



Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) – an ancient, mystical, unique long-living small tree or large shrub belongs to the Punicaceae family can be found growing mainly in warm climate areas of South East Asia, the Himalayas, the Mediterranean, America (California and Arizona), and other parts of the world.

Anatomy of Pomegranate (Illustration by Otto Wilhelm Thomé, 1885)
Anatomy of Pomegranate (Illustration by Otto Wilhelm Thomé, 1885)

There are more than 1000 cultivars of Punica granatum known and fruit of the plant is often considered to be a large berry. It was estimated that pomegranate possible was introduced into the culture about 5000 years ago.


'The pomegranate is a symbol of life, longevity, health, femininity, fecundity, knowledge, morality, immortality, and spirituality, if not Divinity.'


BIO-ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS AND MINERALS


Seed oil consists of approximately 80% conjugated octadecatrienoic fatty acids, minor components of the oil include sterols, steroids, and, cerebroside. Seed matrix includes lignins, fusion products of cell wall components and hydroxycinnamic acids, and potently antioxidant lignin derivatives.


Juice contains anthocyanins, potent antioxidant flavonoids, minerals such as Fe Ca, Ce, Cl, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, K, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Rb, Sc, Se, Sn, Sr, and Zn.

In the peels flavonoids and tannins can be found, however, they are more abundant in the peels of wild-crafted compared to cultivated fruits.

Flowers and Formation of Pomegranate Berry
Flowers and Formation of Pomegranate Berry

Leaves of pomegranate consist of unique tannins, glycosides of apigenin, flavone. Concerning chemical elements, K is high at a young age, N in medium age, and Ca and Fe in old leaves.The flowers contain compounds such as gallic acid and ursolic acid, and other distinctive compounds as well.


BENEFITS FOR HEALTH AND MEDICINAL APPLICATIONS


In many countries, peels of the plant have been used in traditional medicine to treat diarrhea, dysentery, stomachache, and for healing wounds. Unfortunately, the tannin-rich peels are byproducts of the food industry, that being used only as animal feeds in many developed countries, even though the peels of pomegranate has been shown antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria.

Seeds of Pomegranate
Seeds of Pomegranate

Modern uses of pomegranate derived products now include treatment of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), also, to use for cosmetic beautification and enhancement, hormone replacement therapy, resolution of allergic symptoms, ophthalmic ointment, weight loss soap, and as an adjunct therapy to increase the bioavailability of radioactive dyes during diagnostic imaging.


There are several studies published on anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of pomegranate active compounds. The studies suggested and focused on the treatment and prevention of cancer, bacterial infections, and antibiotic resistance cardiovascular disease, dental conditions, diabetes, and ultraviolet radiation-induced skin damage. Moreover, other possible applications of the pomegranate can help with infant brain ischemia, male infertility, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, and obesity.


CONSUMPTION OPTIONS


Pomegranate mostly consumed in the form of juice or molasses as well as dried seeds. Jams, candies, or gumdrops are made from the plant as well. Pomegranate seeds are used for decoration of cakes and pies, or as one of the ingredients in salads. Salad dressings, juice powders, teas, and wine are other commonly used products that can be made from P. granatum.


REFERENCES

  • AL-ZOREKY, N. S. Antimicrobial activity of pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) fruit peels. International journal of food microbiology, 2009, 134.3: 244-248.

  • CHANDRA, Ram, et al. Origin, history and domestication of pomegranate. Fruit, Vegetable and Cereal Science and Biotechnology, 2010, 2: 1-6.

  • JURENKA, Julie. Therapeutic applications of pomegranate (Punica granatum L.): a review. Alternative medicine review, 2008, 13.2.

  • LANSKY, Ephraim P.; NEWMAN, Robert A. Punica granatum (pomegranate) and its potential for prevention and treatment of inflammation and cancer. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2007, 109.2: 177-206.

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