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Can pomegranate fruit cause diarrhea?

Pomegranates are a nutritious fruit that have many potential health benefits. However, some people report experiencing digestive issues like diarrhea after eating pomegranates. In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at whether pomegranates can cause diarrhea and the reasons behind it.

What are pomegranates?

Pomegranates are a fruit that grow on small trees or shrubs. They are native to areas of Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. The fruit is roughly the size of an apple with a tough reddish-purple skin. Inside are hundreds of edible seeds called arils that are surrounded by a juicy pulp. The arils can be eaten raw or processed into pomegranate juice, oil, and extracts.

Pomegranates have grown in popularity in recent years due to their impressive nutrient profile. They are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as folate, potassium, and polyphenol antioxidants like tannins and anthocyanins. Studies suggest that pomegranate extracts may help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, improve arthritis symptoms, and aid heart health.

Pomegranate nutrition facts

Here is an overview of the nutrition found in 1 cup (174 grams) of pomegranate arils:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 144
Total fat 2 g
Saturated fat 0.3 g
Protein 3 g
Carbs 36 g
Sugar 31 g
Fiber 7 g
Vitamin C 44% DV
Vitamin K 36% DV
Folate 12% DV
Potassium 12% DV

Pomegranates are low in fat but contain plenty of fiber, vitamins, minerals and plant compounds.

Can pomegranates cause diarrhea?

Some people do report getting diarrhea after eating pomegranates. There are a few potential reasons why:

  • Fiber content – Pomegranates are rich in fiber, providing 7 grams per cup. Eating high fiber foods can lead to digestive issues like gas, bloating and diarrhea in sensitive individuals, especially when consumed in large amounts.
  • Fructose – Pomegranates contain significant amounts of fructose sugar. Fructose is notoriously poorly absorbed in the digestive tract for some people, which draws water into the intestines and can result in diarrhea.
  • Sorbitol – Pomegranate arils contain sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that acts as a natural laxative when eaten in excess.
  • Pesticides – Pesticide residues on pomegranates could also cause diarrhea in sensitive people.

So while pomegranates themselves don’t directly cause diarrhea, their unique nutritional makeup means they may trigger digestive issues in those who are prone to them.

Managing diarrhea from pomegranates

If you experience diarrhea after eating pomegranates, here are some tips that may help:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Avoid overly ripe, damaged, or bruised pomegranates which may harbor more bacteria
  • Start with small servings and increase slowly to allow your body to adjust
  • Take anti-diarrheal medication if needed
  • Choose pomegranate juice over raw arils which contains less fiber and sorbitol
  • Look for pomegranates clearly labeled as organic to minimize pesticide exposures
  • Try taking probiotics to improve digestion and tolerance

In most cases, diarrhea after eating pomegranates is short-lived and improves with time as your body gets used to them. But if symptoms persist or worsen, consider avoiding pomegranates altogether and speak to your healthcare provider.

Health benefits of pomegranates

Despite the potential for digestive upset, pomegranates offer some great health benefits that may be worth dealing with a little diarrhea for some people. Here’s a look at some of the top scientifically-proven benefits of pomegranates:

Rich in antioxidants

Pomegranates contain very high levels of polyphenol antioxidants, including tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid. Antioxidants help counteract oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body and offer protection against chronic diseases.

Anti-inflammatory effects

Chronic inflammation plays a key role in many diseases. Studies show pomegranate extracts and juice can reduce inflammatory markers like CRP, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a).

May improve heart health

Some research indicates pomegranate juice and extracts can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol profiles, and reduce atherosclerosis. However, more studies are still needed.

Anti-cancer potential

Lab studies have found that pomegranate compounds inhibit the growth and spread of certain cancer cells, including prostate, breast and colon cancers. But human research is limited.

Health benefit Evidence
Rich in antioxidants Well-supported by studies
Anti-inflammatory effects Fairly strong evidence
Improves heart health Some promising research
Anti-cancer potential Mainly lab studies, limited human data

Overall, pomegranates are best supported for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits currently. More research is still needed on their effects for other conditions.

Risks and precautions with pomegranates

Pomegranates are generally considered safe, but there are some precautions to keep in mind:

  • May cause allergic reactions – Rarely, people have developed irritation and swelling from contact with the fruit.
  • Risk of drug interactions – Pomegranate can affect how certain drugs are metabolized, including statins and blood thinners.
  • Dangerous for those with kidney disease – Pomegranates are high in potassium and can increase risk in those with impaired kidney function.
  • Not recommended in pregnancy – Safety for pregnant or breastfeeding women is unknown, best to avoid.

It’s also best to avoid eating many pomegranates within a short period of time. Overdoing it may lead to digestive upset in some people from the fiber, sorbitol and fructose content.

Of course, those who experience diarrhea or other negative symptoms after eating normal amounts should refrain from pomegranates as well.

Typical serving sizes

To minimize adverse effects, stick within the following serving size guidelines:

  • Pomegranate arils: 1⁄2 to 1 cup
  • Pomegranate juice: 8 ounces (240ml)
  • Pomegranate extract capsules: 500mg once or twice per day
Form Serving size
Pomegranate arils 1⁄2 to 1 cup
Pomegranate juice 8 ounces (240ml)
Pomegranate extract capsules 500mg once or twice per day

Larger amounts may be tolerated by some, but increase intake slowly while paying attention to any adverse digestive effects.

Conclusion

Pomegranates are loaded with beneficial nutrients, but their high fiber, sorbitol and fructose content can cause diarrhea or loose stools in some people. Those sensitive may be able to manage this side effect by starting with small servings, drinking juice instead of raw arils, and taking probiotics. However, avoiding pomegranates altogether may be necessary if diarrhea persists.

When enjoyed in moderation, pomegranates can be a healthy addition to your diet due to their antioxidants, anti-inflammatory effects and potential to improve heart health. But take care not to overdo it, and be cautious if you have kidney disease or are taking certain medications.