Are Pomegranate Seeds Edible?

These jewel-like seeds are filled with delicious juice

Pomegranate seeds
Vesna Jovanovic / EyeEm / Getty Images

The pomegranate is an interesting and exotic fruit that has been cultivated since ancient times. Its bright red color brings a bit of vibrancy to the fall and winter produce selection and it is prized for both its seeds and the juice they produce. But can you eat the hard pomegranate seeds? And what about the membrane and skin?

The Anatomy of a Pomegranate

Every pomegranate is composed of hundreds of small seeds, each surrounded by a sac of sweet-tart juice contained by a thin skin.

The seeds are compacted around the core in a layer resembling a honeycomb. These layers of seeds are separated by paper-thin, white membranes which are bitter to the tongue. The inner membranes and rind are not generally eaten due to high tannic acid content, but they are often incorporated in skin care products for their ability to treat dry skin, age spots, and skin pigmentations.

Eating Pomegranate Seeds

More and more we are seeing pomegranate seeds appear in a wide range of dishes, but many people eat the seeds all on their own. They will enjoy the fresh fruit by chewing on the seeds to release the juice from the sacs, and then swallow seeds and all. The seeds are considered good roughage to help cleanse the body. Others will chew the seeds to release the juice from the seeds and then spit out the seeds. The option to eat or discard the seeds is yours.

Recipes Using Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate seeds provide not only a beautiful shock of color as a garnish but also offer an unexpected texture and flavor in recipes.

 Add to cocktails, sprinkle on salads, incorporate onto crostini, or puree into a dip. Surprisingly, pomegranates pair nicely with olives--there are endless options when it comes to cooking with pomegranate seeds. In India, the seeds are dried and ground into a powder to be used in meat dishes.

Getting the Juice Without Eating the Seeds

There are a few methods to extracting the juice from the seeds without chewing them.

One of the easiest is to vigorously roll the fruit on a hard surface to break the juice sacs. When the fruit is soft, puncture the end, insert a straw, and suck out the juice, squeezing as you go. Obviously, there is a fair amount of waste in this process.

Health Benefits of Pomegranates

If you are still on the fence about eating pomegranate seeds, maybe the fruit's innumerable health benefits will convince you. Filled with antioxidants and vitamins, pomegranates have antitumor and antiviral properties, and have been shown to reduce heart problems, prevent cancers and osteoarthritis, treat anemia, and control diabetes. ​