Launching Good Health With Pomegranate

Pomegranates (Punica granatum) are members of the Lythraceae family, along with henna and crape myrtle.

Pomegranate has been identified in Early Bronze Age (c. 3100-1800 BC) levels of Jericho in the West Bank, as well as Late Bronze Age (c. 1400-1200 BC) levels of Hala Sultan Tekke on Cyprus and Tiryns. A large, dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, the butler of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt. Mesopotamian cuneiform records mention pomegranates starting in the mid-third millennium BC.

People cultivated pomegranates in Iran and northern India as far back as 3500 BC. The genus name Punica refers to the Phoenicians, who broadened its cultivation, partly for religious reasons. Pomegranates made their way to Italy via Carthage. Ancient Romans not only enjoyed the succulent flesh of pomegranates, but due to the high amount of tannic acid in the skins, they also used the skins in the process of tanning leather.

Han dynasty representative Jang Qian brought pomegranates to China about 100 BC, along with coriander, walnuts, peas, cucumbers, alfalfa, grapes, and caraway seeds. Pomegranates have been mentioned in many ancient texts, notably in Babylonian texts, the Book of Exodus, the Homeric Hymns, and the Quran.

The name pomegranate derives from medieval Latin pōmum meaning “apple” and grānātum meaning “seeded.” The Latin name has influenced the common name for pomegranate in many languages (e.g. granada in Spanish, Granatapfel or Grenadine in German, granatäpple in Swedish, pomogranà in Venetian, and grenade in French). The Moors brought pomegranates to Spain around 800 AD. Granada was named for the pomegranate, which became their national emblem.

Chaucer, and later Shakespeare, praised pomegranates. Many Italian Renaissance fabrics depicted a pattern of cut pomegranates. Pomegranates first reached the New World on the ships of Spanish explorers. King Henry VIII may have planted the first pomegranate tree in Europe.

The French named their hand-tossed explosive a grenade after the seed-scattering properties of the pomegranate. And in 1791, the special troops formed by the French military to wield these grenades were called grenadiers.

In 1896, pomegranates were brought to the United States, and they are now grown in Arizona and California, as well as Asia and the Mediterranean region.

Pomegranate juice is packed with antioxidants, which help rid your body of free radicals. Pomegranates can:

  1. Increase your cardiovascular health. Pomegranates contain unique antioxidants called ellagitannins, including granatin B and punicalagin, which can increase your heart health by keeping your arteries flexible and decreasing inflammation in the linings of your blood vessels, as well as decreasing and preventing plaque buildup. Campesterol in pomegranates prevents the absorption of “bad” LDL cholesterol, balances blood cholesterol levels, and displays anti-inflammatory properties, which may make it beneficial for arthritis and cardiovascular diseases, among other health conditions.
  2. Reduce your risk of cancer. Pomegranates may actually help induce apoptosis, a process in which cancer cells self-destruct. A glass a day of pomegranate juice can slow the growth of prostate cancer. Pomegranates can also inhibit the growth of estrogen-responsive breast cancer cells and can help prevent lymphoma. Ellagic acid in pomegranates directly inhibits the DNA binding of certain carcinogens, and acts as an antioxidant by reducing oxidative stress. Gallocatechin in pomegranate, is another antioxidant.
  3. Reduce inflammation. Pomegranates decrease chronic inflammation, the root cause of many chronic diseases, likely due to their potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
  4. Fight erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is closely linked to free radicals. Pomegranates, being so high in free-radical-fighting antioxidants, can help fight erectile dysfunction as well.
  5. Promote a healthy pregnancy. Pomegranates are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, which prevents neural tube defects, and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, which help keep a healthy blood flow to the developing fetus. The potassium in pomegranate juice can also help with the leg cramps that many pregnant women experience, especially at night.
  6. Boost immunity. Gallic acid in pomegranate is an antioxidant, has antimicrobial properties, and helps regulate cellular communication. Fresh pomegranate and fresh pomegranate juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps your body develop resistance against infectious agents by boosting immunity. Unfortunately, bottled pomegranate juice has almost no vitamin C.

Pomegranate is an excellent source of vitamin K and contains copperpotassiummanganese, and phosphorus, as well as traces of magnesiumironcalciumselenium, and zinc. Just 100 grams of pomegranate contains 4 grams of fiber.

Nutrients in 100 Grams Fresh Pomegranate

Nutrient

Amount

Daily Value

vitamin K

16.4 µg

21%

vitamin C

10.2 mg

17%

fiber

4 g

16%

folate

38 µg

10%

copper

0.158 mg

8%

potassium

236 mg

7%

carbohydrates

18.7 g

6%

manganese

0.119 mg

6%

Calories

83

4%

phosphorus

36 mg

4%

pantothenic acid

0.4 mg

4%

vitamin B6

0.075 mg

4%

thiamine

0.067 mg

4%

magnesium

12 mg

3%

protein

1.67 g

3%

vitamin E

0.6 mg

3%

riboflavin

0.053 mg

3%

fat

1.17 g

2%

zinc

0.35 mg

2%

iron

0.3 mg

2%

calcium

10 mg

1%

selenium

0.5 µg

1%

niacin

0.293 mg

1%

sodium

3 mg

0.125%

cholesterol

0 mg

0%

vitamin A

0 IU

0%

Buy 100% fruit, fresh-squeezed or natural, organic juice in order to get all the nutritional benefits. Freshly juiced pomegranate juice made at home or your local juice bar is, of course, ideal, as it retains peak vitamins and nutrients. Fresh juicing, however, especially of pomegranates, may be impractical for you, especially because one pomegranate yields only a couple ounces of juice. You can also enjoy benefits from any 100% pure and unsweetened bottled pomegranate juice. Make sure your juice is unsweetened, as sugar is inflammatory and may counteract some of the health benefits of your pomegranate juice. Avoid juice drinks or juice cocktails, which typically have more sugar and less fruit juice in them.

If you choose to buy fresh pomegranates, select fruits that are heavy for their size, bright in color with patches of brown. The skin should be smooth and shiny, and free of splits, bruising, or mold.

Store pomegranates can in a cool, dark place for up to a month. If you place them whole in the refrigerator they can be kept for two months. The seeds, when sealed in an airtight container, can be stored up to three months in the freezer.

Wash pomegranates in cold water (if already at room temperature) or rinse in tepid water (if they have been refrigerated).

To experience its rich flavor, eat fresh pomegranates as it is without adding anything. Make superficial vertical incisions on the tough skin and then break it apart. Lift out the clusters of seed sacs (arils) and separate the white membrane, pith, and rinds. If you perform this task in a bowl of cold water, the seeds settle down at the bottom and the pulp floats. Remove water and gently pat dry arils.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Sprinkle arils on salads and other dishes for an attractive garnish.
  • Use pomegranate juice in sorbets and sauces, as well as to flavor cakes and baked apples.
  • Use pomegranate juice to prepare traditional Persian recipes such as fesenjan, made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts; rice pilaf, and ash-e anar soup.
  • Use pomegranate juice to make a delicious Pomegranate Vinaigrette salad dressing

This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this blog to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

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