Could Pomegranates Pave the Way for Lower Blood Sugar
Could Pomegranates Pave the Way for Lower Blood Sugar

By Sheramy Tsai

Concerned about blood sugar spikes? You’re not alone. Many avoid fruits for fear of raising their glucose levels. However, new research suggests that pomegranates might just be the exception—potentially lowering diabetes risk markers.

Study: Modest Improvements in Blood Sugar

Pomegranates might not be the first food you think of for fighting diabetes, but recent findings suggest they deserve a spot on your menu. According to research published in Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, this fruit can make a difference in managing blood sugar levels.

Researchers examined nearly 2,000 studies, focusing on 32 high-quality trials, to understand how pomegranates affect blood sugar control. Findings indicate that eating pomegranates can lead to modest but statistically significant improvements in several key measures of blood sugar health.

The pooled results showed that people who included pomegranates in their diet saw their fasting blood sugar levels drop by about 2 milligrams per deciliter. This suggests that pomegranates help manage day-to-day blood sugar levels.

The benefits didn’t stop there. Researchers also recorded slight dips in insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) levels. They also saw an improvement in hemoglobin A1C—a marker of long-term blood sugar control—by 0.22 percent. Lastly, the homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance, which measures insulin resistance, was reduced by 0.30 points.

Prior Research Mixed on Pomegranates and Diabetes

Numerous studies have explored how pomegranates impact diabetes. A 2013 review focused on the effects of pomegranate parts—peels, flowers, and seeds—on key diabetes indicators, sharing insights from both lab tests and clinical trials.

“One key mechanism by which pomegranate fractions affect the type 2 diabetic condition is by reducing oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation,” the study notes. Active components such as punicic acid and extracts from seeds and peels significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels.

However, not all findings are positive. A 2017 study in Nutrition Journal reported that pomegranate supplementation had little impact on fasting blood glucose, insulin levels, or insulin sensitivity.

The study, which covered 16 trials including 538 participants, concluded that “pomegranate intake did not show a notably favourable effect on improvements in glucose and insulin metabolism.” It suggested that while pomegranates hold potential due to their antioxidant properties, their direct benefit on blood sugar control remains uncertain.

Why Pomegranates Stand Out

Rich in nutrients, pomegranates are incredibly high in antioxidants such as polyphenols, crucial for blood sugar management. Researchers assert that these compounds lower inflammation and enhance insulin efficacy, reducing insulin resistance—a major contributor to Type 2 diabetes. Pomegranate juice, for example, has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugar in the blood and reduce post-meal sugar spikes.

Furthermore, pomegranates contain dietary nitrates and punicalagin, which improve blood flow and soften arteries. These effects are vital in effectively managing diabetes.

Beyond diabetes, pomegranates’ benefits are far-reaching. Regular intake has been associated with improved blood pressure, gut health, and obesity. Researchers have also seen health improvements for those with IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases.

How Pomegranates Compare to Other Fruits

While pomegranates are beneficial, it’s helpful to consider how they stack up against other fruits commonly recommended for diabetes management, such as blueberries and apples. All three fruits are rich in fiber and antioxidants, which are known to enhance insulin sensitivity and decrease the risk of developing diabetes.

The unique advantage of pomegranates lies in their higher concentration of specific antioxidants, such as punicalagin, that provide potent anti-inflammatory and anti-glycemic effects. This unique composition may make pomegranates particularly effective in combating oxidative stress and inflammation associated with diabetes.

Pomegranates are also a low-glycemic fruit, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels compared to other higher-glycemic carbohydrates.

Simple Ways to Add Pomegranates to Your Diet

Incorporating pomegranates into your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some benefits and simple ideas for using different parts of the fruit in your diet:

  • Pomegranate seeds: Known as arils, these are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The seeds can be sprinkled over salads, mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, or eaten by the handful as a healthful snack.
  • Pomegranate juice: Rich in antioxidants, drinking pomegranate juice can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. It’s also linked to improved heart health and lower blood pressure levels. Enjoy chilled as a refreshing drink, or use it in vinaigrettes and marinades.
  • Pomegranate skin: Though not typically eaten fresh due to its bitterness, the skin contains more antioxidants than arils and juice. It can be dried and powdered for smoothies or as a dish seasoning to boost nutritional content.
  • Cooking and baking: The tangy flavor of pomegranate seeds makes them a fantastic addition to savory dishes, such as couscous and roasted vegetables, and sweet dishes, like fruit tarts and desserts.
  • Pomegranate extract: Available as a supplement, pomegranate extract can be a concentrated way to enjoy the health benefits, especially if the fresh fruit is out of season. It’s used in health supplements and can be added to drinks for a nutritional boost.

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