Pomegranate seeds are edible in their entirety, including the seed coat and juicy interior. While some people choose to spit out the seed coat, it is not necessary to do so. The seed coat provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that complement the sweet juicy interior, known as the aril. Eating the whole seed results in the most nutritional benefit.
Are Pomegranate Seeds Edible?
Yes, pomegranate seeds are fully edible. The seed consists of two main parts:
- The seed coat – This is the outer covering or husk of the seed. It is red in color and has a chewy, papery texture.
- The aril – This is the interior of the seed, containing the juicy red pulp. The aril is the part most people associate with the enjoyable pomegranate flavor.
Both the seed coat and aril are nutritious and technically edible. However, some people prefer to spit out the seed coat after consuming the juicy aril. This comes down to personal preference. The seed coat has a bitter, tannic taste that some find unpalatable when eaten in large quantities. Nonetheless, eating pomegranate seeds whole is perfectly fine.
Nutritional Benefits of Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate seeds are loaded with nutrients and plant compounds that benefit health. Eating the seeds whole ensures you get the full nutritional value. Here is an overview of the major nutrients found in pomegranate seeds:
The seed coat is an excellent source of dietary fiber. A 1/2 cup serving of pomegranate seeds contains 5 grams of fiber, about 20% of the daily recommended intake.1 Fiber promotes healthy digestion and may lower cholesterol levels.2
Important for blood clotting, vitamin K is found abundantly in the seed coat. A 1/2 cup of seeds packs 17 micrograms of vitamin K, covering over 20% of the recommended daily amount.1
Folate or vitamin B9 plays a key role in cell growth and metabolism. A serving of pomegranate seeds provides 16% of the recommended daily folate intake.1
This vitamin acts as a powerful antioxidant and benefits immunity. Pomegranate seeds are a good source, with 12% of the daily vitamin C requirement in each 1/2 cup.1
An electrolyte mineral, potassium helps maintain fluid balance and nerve transmission. Pomegranate seeds contain 285 milligrams of potassium per serving, equal to 6% of the recommended daily intake.1
The edible seeds are rich in polyphenol antioxidants like punicalagins, anthocyanins, ellagic acid derivatives, and tannins.3 These compounds protect cells from unstable molecules called free radicals that can damage DNA.
Potential Downsides of Eating the Seeds
While generally healthy, some potential downsides exist to eating pomegranate seeds whole:
Rarely, individuals may be allergic to pomegranates. An allergy can cause symptoms like itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing.4 People with known allergies should avoid pomegranate products.
Like any small, hard food, pomegranate seeds may present a choking risk for young children. Kids under age 5 should avoid whole seeds.
The fiber-rich seed coat may cause digestive problems in some cases. People with diverticulitis or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may want to spit out the seed coat to avoid stomach discomfort.
Pomegranate can inhibit certain liver enzymes involved in drug metabolism. People taking medications should consult their doctor before consuming pomegranate seeds regularly or in large amounts.5
Overall the benefits outweigh potential risks for most people. But those with the conditions above should exercise caution.
How to Eat Pomegranate Seeds
Here are some tips for enjoying pomegranate seeds:
- Bite the seed coat open with your front teeth, then suck out the aril.
- Chew the entire seed well to get nutrients from the seed coat.
- Add seeds to fruit salads, oatmeal, yogurt, and baked goods.
- Garnish chicken, fish, pork, lamb, and vegetables with seeds.
- Juice pomegranates and consume the seeds too for extra nutrients.
- Blend seeds into smoothies, shakes, dips, or dressings.
- Mix crushed seeds with spices and use as a dry rub on meats.
Here is a simple recipe to try:
Pomegranate Avocado Salad
- 2 cups pomegranate seeds
- 2 avocados, sliced
- 1 cup mixed greens
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine pomegranate seeds, avocado slices, greens, and feta.
- Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Gently toss ingredients to coat.
- Serve immediately.
The Bottom Line
Pomegranate seeds are highly nutritious, delivering fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Both the juicy interior aril and the edible seed coat offer unique health benefits. Eating the seeds whole provides the complete nutritional package. However, those with digestive issues or food allergies may prefer spitting out the seed coat. In moderation, most people can safely eat pomegranate seeds in their entirety and enjoy their sweet, tart, and crunchy texture.
|Nutrient||Amount in 1/2 Cup Pomegranate Seeds||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin K||17 mcg||21%|
|Vitamin C||7 mg||12%|
1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171706/nutrients
2. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH Jr, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009 Apr;67(4):188-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x. PMID: 19335713.
3. Zhang Y, Krueger D, Durst R, et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2009;10(5):2200-2221. doi:10.3390/ijms10052200.
4. Yunginger, J. W., Sweeney, K. G., Sturner, W. Q., Giannandrea, L. A., Teigland, J. D., Bray, M., … & Nelson, D. L. (1988). Fatal food-induced anaphylaxis. Jama, 260(10), 1450-1452.
5. Sorrentino, S. A., Mazoit, J. X., Samlali, K., & Avenel, G. (2021). Pomegranate juice interaction with a CYP3A substrate: Clinical relevance and mechanistic approach with human liver microsomes. Pharmaceutics, 13(10), 1629. https://doi.org/10.3390/pharmaceutics13101629