To give your immune system a boost, nutritionists recommend eating a healthier diet that includes more plants. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and even herbs, spices, coffee and tea are all rich in immune-strengthening compounds that can help fight diseases. Two foods that are especially high in antioxidants and have been researched for their health benefits are green tea and pomegranate.
To get the most health benefits from your diet, nutritionists advise eating a variety of foods that are brightly colored, and pomegranates fit the bill. The ruby-red seeds, or arils, are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and they have three types of antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. According to the National Cancer Institute, tea contains similar beneficial polyphenols. The color differences between black, green and white tea are due to the degree of oxidation during the processing of tea leaves. Green tea is less oxidized than black, and as a result it has more antioxidants available.
Green Tea Benefits
For a zero-calorie beverage, green tea may provide a wealth of benefits. An April 2006 review article published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition lists benefits from green tea that include improved oral health and reduced risk of heart disease and possibly some some forms of cancer, including breast cancer.
Researchers also note that the polyphenolic compounds in green tea may be helpful for weight control, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and increasing bone density, but they stress that further research is needed. The National Cancer Institute cautions that although controlled animal and lab studies show promise, human studies on cancer reduction from green tea are inconclusive.
Pomegranate and Health
The health benefits of pomegranates are just as impressive and varied. In an article published in March 2014 in Advanced Biomedical Research, the authors state that pomegranate juice has even more antioxidant than red wine and green tea do. They list benefits from pomegranate’s polyphenols that include possible protection from several cancers including breast, prostate, lung and colon, as well as from cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
How to Use Them
Brew green tea yourself to get the most benefits from it. According to the American Chemical Society, bottled teas contain few polyphenols and are not equivalent to brewed tea. Some companies make green tea bags flavored with pomegranate, but while you'll get the tea benefits, you probably won't get many polyphenols from pomegranate flavoring. Instead, add real pomegranate juice to a cup of brewed tea to sweeten and add an extra antioxidant punch, or eat the seeds. Pomegranate seeds add color and crunch to salads, yogurt and desserts.