Writing in the December 1, 2003 issue of Time Magazine, Lisa McLaughlin made special note of the pomegranate’s “noble history,” which is “celebrated in mythology, literature and art.”
According to McLaughlin, “Along with the citrus and the peach, it’s one of the three blessed fruits in Buddhism. Some have suggested that it was a pomegranate, not an apple, that led to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. And in Greek mythology, Persephone was sentenced to six months a year in the underworld for eating just six pomegranate seeds.”
Nevertheless, despite this storied past, in modern times, the pomegranate has had a tough time competing with the popularity of other fruits such as apples, pears, bananas, oranges, grapefruit, peaches, plums and grapes, not to mention the cherries and the berries. Botanically speaking, the pomegranate is itself a member of the berry family (albeit a huge one with a tough inedible hide).
So, what does the pomegranate lack that these other produce varieties have?
Not flavor! Not fiber! Not overall nutrient content! Pomegranates match up pretty well in these areas.
No, the answer is more mundane and relates more to the laundry room than to the kitchen: Simply put, it is that pomegranates can’t be eaten without making a mess.
Want to Bet?
Well, guess what? Now they can. Instructions for eating a pomegranate without painting yourself and the town red are offered on the Internet at
www.pomegranate.org, the website of the San Francisco, CA-based Pomegranate Council, a national trade organization.
According to the Pomegranate Council, here is the three-step method for enjoying pomegranates with no mess:
1) “Cut off the crown. Then cut the pomegranate into sections.”
2) “Place the sections in a bowl of water. Then roll out the arils (juice sacs) with your fingers. Discard everything else.”
3) “Strain out the water. Then eat the succulent arils whole, seeds and all.”
That’s right, you can eat the seeds. The Pomegranate Council reports that one of the most frequent questions it fields is, “Do you eat the seed inside the aril or spit it out after enjoying the juice?”
While the politically correct answer is that “it’s a personal choice,” the Council asks consumers to “keep in mind that most of the fiber you get from eating pomegranates comes from that little seed. So to keep up with a healthy dose of daily fiber, crunch on.”
As you do, you will be getting a whole lot more than fiber.
The pomegranate’s nutritional profile also includes high levels of vitamin C and potassium. In addition, this ancient fruit is low in calories (about 120 per serving), while offering significant amounts of three polyphenols- tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid.
The Pomegranate Council reminds consumers, “As antioxidants, [these] are credited with helping in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.”
Promotional literature from Geni Herbs in Noblesville, IN, reports that “UCLA researchers have developed a patent-pending process to rapidly and efficiently extract and purify pomegranate ellagitannins.”
The literature goes on to say, “Punicalagin, the major pomegranate polyphenol, contributes siginificantly to the antioxidant activities of total pomegranate tannins (TPT) extract and pomegranate juice (PJ).”
By the way, for those who are fiber-phobic (or perhaps just don’t like to have crunchy little seeds as part of their diet), pomegranate juice is a more than adequate stand-in for the fruit itself. According to the website www.pomwonderful.com, The juice from pomegranates is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants,” with more polyphenol power than red wine, green tea, blueberry juice, cranberry juice and orange juice.”
To back up this claim, the website cites a 2000 study by M. Aviram that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN). The researcher reported that pomegranate juice consumption in mice reduced the size of atherosclerotic lesions by 44%.
An atherosclerotic lesion was described as the build-up of plaque in the inner artery lining, which restricts the flow of blood to major organs, including the heart. The website states, “This condition can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a major factor in heart disease.”
The pomwonderful.com website also cites other studies from the Journal of Nutrition and Atherosclerosis, as well as AJCN, in which researchers found that pomegranate juice may help to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation in mice and lower blood pressure in hypertensive humans.
“This is extremely important,” the website declares, “because LDL cholesterol (i.e. ‘bad’ cholesterol) that has been oxidized is much more likely to become arterial plaque. And high blood pressure (in addition to putting extra stress on your lower left heart chamber) has been linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.”
On the Health Info pages of its website, www.wholefoodsmarket.com, Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFMI) advises shoppers that, when selecting a pomegranate, they pick a heavy one, since the arils represent about 52% of the total weight.
As for storage, keep pomegranates in a dark, cool place for up to a month, or in the refrigerator for up to two months. Pomegranate juice can be frozen for about six months in an airtight container.
“Pomegranate Power” by Lisa McLaughlin, Time Magazine, December 1, 2003
Material provided by Geni Herbs
From: WHOLE FOODS magazine. FEBRUARY 2005
used with permission.
Daily infusions of nourishing herbs are a wonderful way to add extra health and nutrition to your diet.