Eating a pomegranate can be nothing short of frustrating. It’s a lot of work to get through the tough reddish outer skin and past the pulp to the red jelly-like edible arils. But it’s well worth the trouble – both for the sweet taste and the potential health benefits! Known for their high fiber and antioxidant content, pomegranates are taking center stage again — this time for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield in the UK, using isolated brain cells from rats, found that punicalagin, a polyphenol found in pomegranates, inhibited neuro-inflammation in special brain cells called micrologia. These findings, published in the latest Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, come as a beacon of hope for those suffering from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

While the exact amount of pomegranate derivative for treatment remains to be seen, one thing’s clear: this study suggests that pomegranates may be useful for any condition of which inflammation is a factor including rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.

Previous research has found that ingested pomegranate extract may serve to boost sunscreen protection.  In addition, topical application of pomegranate extract inhibited skin cancer development in mice.

Interested in adding some pomegranate to your diet and reaping the benefits? Try Dole’s pom-inspired salad Spring Mix with Pomegranate and Goat Cheese Toasts.

Published November 1, 2014