Pomegranate & Constipation

Approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population -- around 42 million children and adults -- suffers from constipation, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While a number of factors may cause constipation, a change in your eating habits is one of the most effective treatments. Increasing your intake of high-fiber foods like pomegranates may help. Just be sure to drink plenty of fluids as you increase your fiber consumption -- at least six to eight glasses of clear, caffeine-free liquid. Talk to your doctor if you have problems with recurrent constipation.

A pomegranate cracked open. (Image: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images)

Fiber Content of Pomegranates

If you're constipated, it's likely you're not consuming enough fiber. Adults need at least 22 to 34 grams daily, depending on their age and gender, but most don't get more than 15 grams a day. A 1/2-cup serving of pomegranate seeds, or arils, contains 3.5 grams of fiber, or 11 percent of the recommended daily intake for men between 31 and 50, and 14 percent of the requirement for women of the same age.

Effect of Pomegranate's Fiber on Constipation

Dietary fiber occurs naturally in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water in your digestive tract and slows the passage of stool, but insoluble fiber increases intestinal activity. A high intake of foods rich in insoluble fiber is linked to a decreased risk of constipation. According to a study published in the "International Journal of Current Microbiology and Applied Sciences" in 2014, about 80 percent of the average pomegranate's total dietary fiber consists of insoluble fiber, or approximately 2.8 grams in every 1/2-cup serving of arils -- more than you'd obtain from most fruits and vegetables.

Benefit of Pomegranate Juice

Eating raw pomegranate seeds isn't the only way pomegranates can help ease or prevent constipation. The American Cancer Society says drinking plenty of clear fluids, including fruit juices like pomegranate juice, can also help maintain healthy bowel function. Choose unsweetened, 100-percent pomegranate juice, and limit your intake to 8 to 12 ounces per day for adults. Juice has more calories and sugar per serving than fresh fruit and offers none of the fiber.

When Pomegranates Don't Help

For some people, eating more high-fiber foods like pomegranates doesn't relieve constipation. A study published in 2012 in the "World Journal of Gastroenterology" found that some subjects with unexplained, chronic constipation who were asked to temporarily reduce or eliminate dietary fiber from their diets experienced a decrease, not an increase, in their symptoms. The scientists concluded that more research is needed to determine why a fiber-rich diet prevents constipation in some instances but seems to exacerbate it in others. If you're eating plenty of insoluble fiber from sources like pomegranates but are still frequently constipated, consult your doctor.

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