The pomegranate is one of the oldest cultivated fruits and was first introduced in ancient Persia, where its health benefits were already known at that time. The Romans called the pomegranate “seed apple” in Latin and planted hardy plants throughout their empire. In Spain, the pomegranate was so popular that some historians have even named the city of Granada after it. Pomegranate juice was considered a panacea for all diseases and was imported as far away as India. As modern researchers recognize the importance of antioxidants to health, it seems that the Ayurvedic experts of centuries ago were right about pomegranate.
This round, red fruit not only has a geographic history, but also a symbolic history. The pomegranate is associated with fertility because of its richness in seeds and with regeneration and renewal because of its longevity. The pomegranate was a highly prized crimson jewel in ancient times and was so named because of its resemblance to a pomegranate stone. From Greek mythology to the Exodus, the pomegranate has been the subject of poems and fables. Legendary heroes, gods, and goddesses eating pomegranates are depicted in paintings and frescos.
As poetic as it sounds, pomegranates also have practical value because of their health benefits. Nutritionally, the pomegranate is superior to other known fruits. It is low in fat and sugar and contains only 80 calories per 100 grams, but it has 5 grams of fiber and 15 percent of the recommended daily requirement of vitamin C.
Organic pomegranate juices is as popular as the whole fruit. Because pomegranate juice is concentrated, it has slightly more calories than the whole fruit, at 120 calories per serving (8 ounces). Like the whole pomegranate, pomegranate juice is rich in antioxidants. This nutritional information is for pomegranate juice, not the sweetened mixture of juice and simple syrup called grenadine.
If you don’t look at the label, you can learn all about the health benefits of pomegranate.
Pomegranates and Antioxidants
The rich red color of pomegranates isn’t just a visual treat. The color of pomegranates means they are rich in secondary plant substances, which are part of antioxidants. Antioxidants fight cell damage caused by free radicals. Although researchers are still studying the effects of antioxidants in the human body and have not yet come to the conclusion that these compounds work in the human body in the same way as they do in the test tube, the American Cancer Society states, based on its research, that “antioxidants help prevent free radical damage associated with cancer. While it cannot be said that antioxidants can cure disease, it is certainly true that foods containing antioxidants appear to be a useful preventive measure.
Antioxidants are found in many foods, but only pomegranate has a series of related compounds called punicalagins. This complex name comes from the pomegranate’s scientific name, Punica granatum. Punicalagins, like other antioxidants, have the ability to neutralize free radicals, but early research indicates that they may also actively seek out free radicals and reduce the likelihood of developing prostate, lung, and breast cancer.
Pomegranate juice has an antioxidant capacity of 2860 per 100 grams. It is comparable to plum juice, goji berry juice, and melon juice. If research confirms the differences between punicalagin and other antioxidants, consumption of these two substances could further enhance the free radical deterrent effect.
Vitamins, minerals and trace elements in pomegranate
Like many other fruits, pomegranates contain a healthy amount of vitamin C. Potassium and zinc are also important minerals found in pomegranates and pomegranate juice.
Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, is important for skin and nervous system health. While you may be more familiar with the name as a hair care ingredient, pantothenic acid is also an important part of your diet. The importance of pantothenic acid is still being researched, but it is believed that this micronutrient may help prevent muscle pain, insulin resistance, and adrenal insufficiency.
Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid, became important in the world of nutrition when researchers discovered that folic acid deficiency caused neural tube defects in infants. In addition, adults need this vitamin to repair DNA and form healthy blood cells. One pomegranate seed contains 10 percent of the amount of this vitamin recommended for adults.
People who are deficient in vitamin K are more likely to get bruises and have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Vitamin K is usually found in dark green leafy vegetables, but sweetened pomegranate seeds can also provide a delicious boost. Pomegranate juice and whole pomegranate seeds contain about 10% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K for adults.
Allergies and contraindications
Allergies to pomegranate are rare, but anyone who has noticed itching or burning on their skin after handling a pomegranate should avoid this fruit. The low acidity of pomegranate juice may aggravate symptoms of GERD and heartburn. If you suffer from heartburn often, avoid eating acidic foods containing pomegranate just before going to bed.
Pomegranate seeds can be irritating to people with diverticulitis. Like the tomato, strawberry, and raspberry seeds, pomegranate seeds can enter the diverticula of the intestine and cause pain. And because the seeds of this fruit are relatively large, others don’t have a problem.
People who take blood-thinning medications should be careful when taking vitamin K. This vitamin inhibits blood clotting and if taken in excess in combination with medications. There may be an interaction between the two. To avoid drug interactions and safely enjoy the beneficial properties of pomegranate. The vitamin K content of pomegranate seeds and juice should be considered.
Selecting, preparing and eating pomegranates
Pomegranates are best eaten when they are bright red in color and heavy for their size. The pomegranate season extends into the fall, so you’ll get the best product if you buy them in season.
In most fruits, the sweet pulp surrounds the inedible seeds. Pomegranates are the opposite: they have many clear, juicy seeds surrounded by fibrous white skin. Vigorously tap half the pomegranate with the back of a spoon to extract the delicious seeds. A few taps with the spoon and the seeds should fall through the hole into the bowl. Visit: The Benefits of Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate seeds are very similar to the pomegranate from which they take their name. Their bright color and clarity make them an ideal topping for ice cream and desserts. And when used in salads, their tart juice adds a new dimension to taste and texture. Pomegranate juice can be used like other fruit juices in icings, sauces, mixed fruit drinks, and frozen foods.
No matter how you use pomegranate juice, whether you’re learning how to make it or using it in salads or desserts, it’s easy to discover the health benefits of pomegranate.