The pomegranate is scientifically known as (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 5–8 m tall. The pomegranate is native to the region from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and has been cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region and the Caucasus since ancient times. It is widely cultivated throughout Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, India, Turkey, the drier parts of southeast Asia, Peninsular Malaysia, the East Indies, and tropical Africa. Introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769, pomegranate is now cultivated in parts of California and Arizona for juice production. In the functional food industry, pomegranate is included in a novel category of exotic fruits called super fruits.
There are potential health benefits of pomegranate, its aril juice provides about 16% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and antioxidant polyphenols. The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate juice are the hydrolyzable tannins called punicalagins which have free-radical scavenging properties Punicalagins are absorbed into the human body and may have dietary value as antioxidants.
Many food and dietary supplement makers have found advantages of using pomegranate phenolic extracts instead of the juice as ingredients in their products. Many pomegranate extracts are essentially ellagic acid which may absorb into the body only after parent molecule polyphenolic punicalagins are consumed.
In research studies it has been fund that the juice of the pomegranate has been found effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation, all of which are steps in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Tannins such as punicalagins have been identified as the primary components responsible for the reduction of oxidative stress which led to these risk factors. Pomegranate has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).
Containing polyphenols which inhibit estrogen synthesis, pomegranate seed oil was effective against proliferation of breast cancer cells in vitro.
The best benefit of pomegranate is that its juice has antiviral and antibacterial effects against dental plaque.