Pomegranates: More Than A Treat

The Pomegranate is a healthy powerhouse.

By Toni Lewis



Having a Pomegranate (punica granatum) tree in my back yard. Gave me pause in the beginning. I'd never seen one before.

I loved eating this fruit when I was a child, but the seeds...THE SEEDS! 

Sitting down with this fruit is a commitment, so I didn't think I would really eat any.

Little did I know that I would find myself competing with the local squirrels once I got a taste.  


The ancestors of my tree were native shrubs and trees found growing around the Middle East and Europe. 

It was exalted in ancient societies as a symbol for health, fertility and eternal life.

Just two weeks ago my tree was bare. Now that spring is springing, there are bright green leaves and little flowers blooming on it's knarly limbs.

Though this sweet, yet tart, apple-like fruit originated in Persia, the French named it "pome" (apple) and "granate" (because it resembles the explosive "hand granade" that scatters numerous small pieces of metal like many seeds. Together they mean "seeded apple".  

And Oh Boy is it seeded.

It's an organic food, which is GREAT, but eating this fruit can be difficult. The skin which is "tough" and thick and full of tannins was often dried for leather-like products by the ancients.

So, you really gotta want to eat what's inside.

Many people just don't bother. Some say it's just too much work with too little pay off, because it's so hard to get through the outer layer or because the seeds are so small.

Small things that pack a wallop!







You get a glimpse of the classic red/orange color from the bud of the tree's spring flower.








The beauty of this tree doesn't outweigh the benefit of it's fruit.

This wonderful fruit is a source of ellagic acid, Vitamin A, C and E and minerals, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, folic acid, niacin, thiamin folates and riboflavin.

The juice has long been used as a tonic to heal ailments like ulcers and diarrhea.  Compounds like gallic acids, and flavonoids like quercetin have been found to be effective protection from diabetes, heart diseases, osteoarthritis and some cancers.

More health benefits:

Recent medical research studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages were given an ounce of pomegranate juice each day for a year. Blood pressure lowered by over 12 percent and a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque was found.

AND research is showing that it also may inhibit

                         breast cancer

                             Prostate cancer

               Colon cancer

Leukemia

Research also shows reduced platelet aggregation and vascular changes that promote tumor growth in lab animals.

So now, let's get down to the eating.

1. Cut both ends off.  

2. Cut into four sections.

3. Peel the skin back and pop those seeds out.  

But Be Careful

I make sure to wear an apron, because the juice will stain your clothes.  

If you let the seeds fall into a bowl of water, the white membrane will float to the top.

I store mine in a tupperware container and eat right from the fridge.

Also:

Sprinkle on salads

Use in smoothies and ice-cream.

or just juice and drink.

For Beauty:

Pomegranate seed oil is used to hydrate dry skin.

Drinking the tonic (juice) helps protect cells from oxidative stress, and also stimulates collagen production.

You can even find it in Soaps, Shampoos and lotions.

Harvest starts around September.  You'll find them in the grocery stores between October and January.  They last quite a while if you freeze them after peeling.  








References:

Aviram M. Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al.  Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr 2004;(3):423-33

Kim ND, Mehta R, Yu W, et al.  chemopreventive and adjuvant therapeutic potential of pomegrante (Punica granatum) for human breast cancer, Breast Cancer Res Treat 2002;71(3):203-17. Kohno H, Suzuki R, Yasui Y, et al.  Pomegranate seed oil rich in conjugated linolenic acid suppresses chemicall induced colon carcinogenesis in rats. Cancer Sci 2004;95(6):481-6.

Mori-Okamoto J, Otawara-Hamamoto Y, Yamato H, Yoshimura H. Pomegranate extract improves a depressive state and bone properties in menopausal syndrome model ovariectomized mice. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;92(1):93-101.






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