Pomegranates contain powerful antioxidants that may prevent muscle soreness after exercise, and promote recovery. The fruit contains high levels of polyphenols that prevent free radical damage and inflammation. University of Texas, Austin, scientists found that pomegranate juice reduced post-exercise muscle soreness following intense eccentric exercise. Test subjects performed 3 sets of 20 reps of one-arm eccentric biceps curls, and 6 sets of 10 reps of eccentric knee extensions. Compared to the control limb, pomegranate juice reduced soreness in the arms but not the legs. Other studies have found that pomegranate juice helped prevent prostate and skin cancer.

The health benefits and novelty of the ancient fruit have made them the darling of the produce section at the supermarket. Pomegranate juice has been selling like hotcakes in supermarkets and health food stores across the country. American-grown pomegranates are only available from October to late December, but you can buy imports and pomegranate products all year long. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, published online June 8, 2011)