Source: Ralph Flores
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found a novel use for pomegranate peels. In their report, published in the journal Nutrition Research, they revealed that pomegranate peels – considered to be an agricultural waste – have potential antibacterial properties.
Phenolic compounds exhibit antimicrobial, antioxidant activity
Pomegranates are known for their impressive health benefits, which range from lowering blood pressure to reducing the risk of certain cancers. However, the researchers noted that not much is known when it comes to the benefits offered by pomegranate peel — in particular, its ability to treat bacterial infections.
To better understand the antibacterial properties of pomegranate peel, the researchers tested its effects on a mouse model of infectious colitis. Before the mice were infected with Citrobacter rodentium, a bacterium that closely mimics the effect of Escherichia coli infection in humans, the researchers treated them with either pomegranate peel extract or water.
Nearly two weeks after the mice were infected, the researchers found that those treated with pomegranate peel extract had lower infection-related weight loss and mortality than the control group. In addition, bacterial colonization in the spleen and infection-related damage in the colon were significantly less in mice treated with pomegranate peel extract than in the control group.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that pomegranate peel extract may reduce the severity of bacterial infection in mice infected with C. rodentium.
In a separate study, Turkish researchers also looked at the health benefits of pomegranate peels, in particular, their antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. The report, published in the Carpathian Journal of Food Science and Technology, used pomegranate peel extract against pathogens like E. coli; Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium commonly linked to community- and hospital-acquired infections; and S. mutans, the leading cause of dental caries.
Chemical analysis of pomegranate peel revealed the presence of many phenolic compounds, including punicalin, gallic acid, ellagic acid and quercetin. The team also reported that pomegranate peel extract exhibits potent antioxidant activity.
Other health benefits of pomegranate
The findings presented by the studies highlight why pomegranates are considered to be among the healthiest fruits on Earth. Here are some of the health benefits you can get from eating pomegranates:
- Helps improve exercise performance. Pomegranates are packed with dietary nitrate, which has been shown to help with exercise performance. A small-scale study also found that supplementing with pomegranate extract before exercise leads to enhanced blood flow, reduced fatigue and improved exercise efficiency.
- Helps enhance memory. Early research on the ability of pomegranates to improve memory has been positive. In a small trial, participants with mild age-associated memory complaints reported improvements on verbal and visual tasks after regularly drinking pomegranate juice. In vivo studies also show that pomegranate juice has cognitive benefits.
- Helps prevent inflammation. While inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to pathogens and cell damage, studies show that chronic inflammation is linked to diseases like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Drinking pomegranate juice can help reduce inflammation: A 12-week study involving diabetics revealed that drinking pomegranate juice every day led to a decrease in inflammation markers.
- Helps reduce heart disease risk. A 2013 study found that drinking pomegranate juice may reduce hypertension and improve blood pressure; meanwhile, an earlier study found that pomegranate juice can improve blood flow to the heart in patients with coronary heart disease.
The skins of many fruits are just as packed with nutrients and beneficial compounds as their flesh and seeds. To learn more about other superfruits like pomegranates, visit FoodScience.news.