Pomegranates are some of the healthiest fruits on the planet. They are rich in vitamins and minerals that promote overall health. According to a study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, pomegranate juice can improve cognitive function and blood flow among the elderly.

Pomegranate juice can improve cognitive function in older people

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles wanted to find out if increased consumption of pomegranate juice benefits cognitive health. To investigate, they asked 32 participants with self-reported memory complaints to drink either pomegranate juice or a placebo for four weeks. Results showed that the group who drank pomegranate juice experienced improvements in their verbal memory scores and plasma antioxidant levels. The pomegranate group also showed increased functional MRI activity during verbal and memory tasks compared with the placebo group. These suggest that pomegranate juice helps increase blood flow to critical task-related brain regions.

In another study published in ACS Chemical Science, researchers from the University of Huddersfield in the U.K. found that pomegranates contain a compound that can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The researchers identified 21 compounds from pomegranates that have antioxidant properties. Of these compounds, the most notable were urolithins. Unlike other polyphenols, urolithins can cross the blood-brain barrier — an essential ability for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. In order to treat Alzheimer’s disease, a compound needs to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier to clear up beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

Pomegranates offer a wide array of health benefits

Aside from improving cognitive function, pomegranates can provide other health benefits. 

These include:

  • Inflammation prevention: Pomegranates contain an anti-inflammatory compound called punicalagin. Test tube studies show that this compound inhibits inflammation in the gut. Punicalagins can also reduce inflammation caused by breast and colon cancer cells.
  • Cancer prevention: Pomegranate extract can slow the growth of cancer cells and induce cell death. In a phase II clinical trial involving men with prostate cancer, researchers found that daily consumption of pomegranate juice can stop cancer cell proliferation and induce apoptosis.
  • Blood pressure reduction: According to research, daily consumption of five ounces of pomegranate juice can help manage blood pressure.
  • Pain relief: Pomegranates contain anti-inflammatory properties, which can help people who suffer from arthritis pain. Pomegranate extract also inhibits enzymes that are known to cause tissue damage in the joints. Moreover, pomegranate extract alleviates pain caused by arthritis in mice.
  • Heart disease prevention: Pomegranates contain a fatty acid called punicic acid, which protects against heart disease. Research shows that supplementation with 800 milligrams of pomegranate seed oil decreases bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels. Other studies also show that increased consumption of pomegranate juice reduces the risk of heart disease. (Related: Pomegranate juice found to clean your arteries and lower your risk of a heart attack.)
  • Protection from infections: Pomegranates have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that help fight oral infections like gingivitis, periodontitis, and denture stomatitis.