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Fear Not the Pomegranate

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Fear Not the Pomegranate

This tempting jewel of the fruit stand calls to you, its rotund sphere ranging from a bluish pink to a décor-inspiring crimson red. You circle the fruit aisle one last time, wondering if today's the day you'll rupture its tough exterior and take advantage of its superior antioxidant qualities.

This tempting jewel of the fruit stand calls to you, its rotund sphere ranging from a bluish pink to a décor-inspiring crimson red. You circle the fruit aisle one last time, wondering if today’s the day you’ll rupture its tough exterior and take advantage of its superior antioxidant qualities.

We want the pomegranate. We need the pomegranate. We yearn to leave ourselves vulnerable to its nutritional bliss. But as we inch toward it, fear sets in; that same fear we feel during Thanksgiving when we confront the hideous gourd that every decorator and iron chef on the continent is telling us we can cook with. But fear no more. Reach beyond those lack-lustre peel-it, pop-it, and bite-right-into-it fruits by learning to make nice with the pomegranate.

Pomegranate Know-How

The pomegranate’s three parts include the outer shell, the inner white membrane, and the edible aril seeds embedded within the inner layer. When assessing which pomegranate is worthy of taking home, you’ll spot pomegranates that range in colour from reddish yellow to a deep red. Choose one that is reddish pink and heavy in weight. The stem of the pomegranate should resemble a crown, and if you hear a metallic sound when you tap the fruit’s shell, then that is the pomegranate for you.

To get at the juicy arils, experts advise cutting off the pomegranate’s crown and scoring the outer layer of the skin into sections with a knife. Then, submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of water and break apart the scored sections by forcing your thumbs into their centre. This is done underwater so that the hundreds of tiny arils found inside every single pomegranate don’t fly across your kitchen floor. Dislodge the seeds from the white membranes, scooping them into a strainer, and pop the entire seed into your mouth, savouring the sweet-tart flavour that the crimson flesh provides.

Prescription for Health

The pomegranate’s potent properties are due to its incredibly high levels of naturally occurring antioxidants: polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanins. In fact, the antioxidant activity in pomegranate juice is higher than that of other free-radical fighters, including blueberry, cranberry, or orange juices, green tea, and red wine.

This abundance of antioxidants has been shown to reduce bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and support optimum cardiovascular health. In fact, Israeli researchers showed that drinking one glass of pomegranate juice each day for one year reduced blood pressure and improved the amount of oxygen reaching heart muscles of patients with coronary heart disease.

Moreover, pomegranate arils have demonstrated the capacity to prevent bad LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, the process by which plaque builds up and hardens the arteries–a significant contributor to heart attacks and strokes.

The pomegranate seed is also one of the richest sources of the female hormone estrone. For menopausal women leery of estrogen replacement therapy, this is good news. The pomegranate’s estrone naturally mimics the desirable effect of estrogen and reduces the negative health symptoms associated with menopause.

Ingesting the pomegranate can also be useful for men with prostate cancer. Men who drank 8 oz (250 mL) of pomegranate juice daily after their initial surgical treatment delayed the reappearance of high prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, thus increasing their chances for long-term survival.

Partial to Pomegranate

With one serving of pomegranate (3.5 oz or 100 g, about half an average fruit) providing about 1 g of fibre, 260 mg of potassium, and a measly 80 calories, you can afford to add nature’s superhero to anything. Nutritionist Lydia Knorr suggests livening up your salad or substituting the chocolate topping on your sundae with a tablespoon of pomegranate arils. She also points out that they can be added to dry cereal, stirred into oatmeal, or even tossed into yogourt to energize your mornings.

Attempting to incorporate the pomegranate into your diet doesn’t have to end in the fruit aisle. Drinks like pure pomegranate juice and various types of pomegranate tea are readily available at the grocery store, while pomegranate seed oil capsules or pomegranate extract supplements from your natural health food store can supply you with the pomegranate’s nutritional wealth. Enjoy!

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