Seeds of Health: Pomegranates Pack a Hearty Nutritional Punch
By Kyla Dunn, Psychology Today Magazine
Pomegranates: Hearty Nutritional Punch
Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily for a year has been shown to reduce such cardiovascular risk factors as plaque formation -- particularly in the carotid arteries leading to the brain -- and high blood pressure.
The name means "seeded apple," and some scholars believe the pomegranate -- not the apple -- hung from the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.
But there's nothing forbidden about this fruit.
Break one open and within spongy, membranous compartments lies the pomegranate's treasure: hundreds of "seeds," known as arils. Each of these ruby sacs bursts with a rich, tangy juice high in vitamin C, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), and potassium, and contains a small, edible seed rich in fiber.
Eating the arils delivers sensory drama: an explosion of tart flavor followed by a fibrous crunch.
Botanically speaking, the pomegranate is a berry and, like other colorful berries, it's packed with antioxidants that protect body and brain.
Pomegranate juice is rich in anthocyanins, the same compounds that make eggplants purple, blueberries blue, and grapes red. It also boasts tannins, antioxidants also found in red wine, which provide a tart kick.
Ounce for ounce, pomegranates have more antioxidants than red wine, blueberry juice, and green tea, and they're more potent.
Downing one 8-ounce glass of pomegranate juice a day for a year has been shown to reduce such cardiovascular risk factors as plaque formation -- particularly in the carotid arteries leading to the brain -- and high blood pressure.
It also slows the spread of prostate cancer in men.
Pomegranates are in season from September to January.
Choose fruits heavy for their size, with skin free of cracks (a sign of over-maturity). Whole pomegranates keep for months in a cool, dry place. The arils store well in the freezer.
Pomegranate Compote Recipe
Serves 6 (makes 1-1/2 cups)
TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes
Delicious, versatile, and easy to prepare, this relish is perfect when served with grilled poultry, pork, or lamb.
Use it to accent brie and crackers, spoon it onto yogurt or ice cream, or spread it on toast at breakfast.
- Seeds from 2 medium pomegranates
- 1 Tbsp. finely chopped orange zest
- 1 Tbsp. orange juice
- 1/2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1/4 tsp. salt
To contain a mess and avoid stains, cut the crown from each pomegranate, then cut the pomegranate into generous sections.
Submerge each section in a bowl of water.
Reaching into the water, gently break the arils away from their casing.
The arils will sink to the bottom and the inedible pulp will float to the surface.
Capture the arils by scooping away the pulp, then pouring the bowl's contents through a strainer.
Gently fold together pomegranate seeds and remaining ingredients.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
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