Pomegranates are a nutritious fruit that have been enjoyed for centuries. However, some people report experiencing digestive issues like gas and bloating after eating them. In this article, we’ll explore whether pomegranates really cause gas and how you can enjoy them without discomfort.
What is Pomegranate?
The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree native to Asia. Pomegranates have been cultivated since ancient times throughout the Mediterranean, Middle East, and India.
The pomegranate tree typically grows 12–16 feet tall and has glossy, leathery leaves. The fruit itself is between 2–5 inches wide with a deep red, leathery skin. Inside the outer skin are hundreds of edible ruby red arils which are the seed casings. These arils are juicy and sweet-tart in flavor.
Nutritional Profile of Pomegranates
Pomegranates have an impressive nutrition profile. One cup of arils contains:
Pomegranates also contain powerful plant compounds like tannins and anthocyanins which give them antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The juice and peel are used to make medicines.
Do Pomegranates Commonly Cause Digestive Issues?
Some people do report digestive problems like increased gas, bloating, and diarrhea after eating pomegranates. However, these issues likely only affect a small subset of the population.
Most healthy individuals can enjoy pomegranates without any adverse effects. In fact, their fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are beneficial for digestion and gut health.
However, pomegranates contain fructose, a naturally occurring sugar. For people with fructose intolerance or IBS, excess fructose can result in gas and diarrhea after eating fruits like pomegranates.
Fructose in Pomegranates
The carbohydrates in pomegranates come mainly from fructose, a simple fruit sugar. One pomegranate contains about 40% fructose.
|Grams per pomegranate
For healthy people, this moderate fructose content shouldn’t cause issues. Our bodies are equipped to digest normal amounts of fructose from whole fruits.
However, some individuals have trouble properly absorbing excess fructose. It can get rapidly fermented by gut bacteria, producing gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
Who Is Sensitive to Fructose?
Those most sensitive to fructose from pomegranates include:
- People with IBS, IBD, or other digestive conditions
- Those with fructose malabsorption or intolerance
- Individuals with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- People with diabetes
- Those following a very low-FODMAP diet
For these individuals, it’s often recommended to limit high-fructose fruits like pomegranates. Overconsumption may exacerbate digestive issues.
Other Causes of Pomegranate Gas
Aside from fructose, other compounds in pomegranates could also contribute to gas for sensitive people:
- Fiber – Pomegranates contain 7 grams of fiber per cup. While healthy, too much fiber at once can lead to gas and bloating.
- Tannins – These polyphenols give pomegranates their astringent taste. Tannins may have a laxative effect or irritate the intestines for some.
- Sorbitol – Pomegranates contain this natural sugar alcohol that can ferment in the colon causing gas.
The seeds and rind also have a higher tannin content than the arils, so eating those parts is more likely to cause digestive effects.
Tips to Prevent Pomegranate Gas
If you experience gas or diarrhea from pomegranates, here are some tips:
- Drink pomegranate juice diluted with water instead of eating the whole fruit.
- Avoid eating the rind and seeds which are higher in compounds that may cause issues.
- Start with small servings like 1/4 cup to see how well you tolerate them.
- Take an over-the-counter digestive enzyme like lactase or alpha-galactosidase when consuming pomegranates.
- Pair pomegranates with probiotics to support digestion.
- Limit high-fiber foods on days you eat pomegranates.
- Stick to low-FODMAP foods for the rest of the day.
When to See a Doctor
Occasional gas or bloating after eating pomegranates is normal. However, if you experience severe, persistent digestive symptoms like:
- Diarrhea lasting more than 2 days
- Blood in stool
- Severe cramping or abdominal pain
- Unintentional weight loss
You should see a doctor, especially if you have an underlying gastrointestinal condition. They can help diagnose and treat any sensitivity or intolerance to compounds in pomegranates.
The Bottom Line
For most healthy people, eating pomegranates shouldn’t cause digestive problems. However, their natural sugars and plant compounds may produce gas, bloating, or diarrhea in those with sensitivities.
Limiting portion sizes, diluting juice with water, and pairing them with probiotics can help reduce adverse effects. Those with chronic digestive issues should exercise caution and consult their doctor if pomegranates seem to worsen symptoms.