Pomegranate: Health Benefits Have Never Tasted So Good!The pomegranate is an ancient fruit native of Persia, Pakistan and Afghanistan that was cultivated and naturalized in Georgia, Armenia and over the whole Mediterranean region and northern India since ancient times.
It is mentioned several times in the Old Testament, and the ancient city of Granada in Spain was renamed after the fruit during the Moorish period. The pomegranate shrub was introduced to California by Spanish settlers in the early 18th Century, and is now widely cultivated in that state as well as in Arizona.
With a rich history in myth, symbolism and art, the pomegranate was even thought by some scholars to be the forbidden fruit, which tempted Eve, and not the apple. Because of the intense ruby color of its edible seeds, the pomegranate was an inspiration to many artists of the region, including the Georgian filmmaker Paradjanov, whose masterpiece film was titled ‘The Colour of Pomegranates’.
The pomegranate is used for medicinal purposes in Persia, Georgia and India, and has always been an important part of the Middle Eastern diet. In its long history, the pomegranate has been linked to health, fertility and rebirth.
Because of its astringent, anti-parasites properties, the pomegranates’ root bark is used to treat intestinal parasites. The bark contains alkaloids that sedate intestinal parasites making them lose their grip on the intestinal walls, and therefore easier to expel.
In our times of nutritional enlightenment pomegranate has become the super- food “par excellence”, mainly because of its antioxidant properties. Research has shown that the pomegranate fruit and its juice may help with heart disease, as it reduces blood clots and contains the damage done to the arteries by cholesterol.
Other than being an excellent heart tonic, the pomegranate also helps with other problems associated with ageing due to the fact that it is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, potassium, folic acid and iron.
Pomegranate fruit extracts can block enzymes that contribute to osteoarthritis, according to a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’ study, published in the September 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
"Pomegranate -in particular- has been found to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have potential therapeutic benefits in a variety of diseases. The Case University study demonstrated for the first time the ability of pomegranate fruit extracts to slow the deterioration of human cartilage."
Preparations of different parts of the plant flower, fruit, juice and bark have been used for an array of conditions including gastroenterological ailments like diarrhea, dysentery and stomach ulcers.
Dioscorides an Greek physician and pharmacologist in antiquity has recorded the following:
“The juice of the kernells prest out, being sod and mixed with Hony, are good for the ulcers that are in ye mouth and in ye Genitals and in the seate, as also for the Pterygia in digitis and for the Nomae and ye excrescencies in ulcers, and for ye paines of ye eares, and for the griefs in ye nosthrills”
It’s truly amazing how this recipe resisted the passage of time. My own Turkish grandmother used to spread pomegranate syrup (available in good natural health stores) on my cold sores when I was a kid. Not only did it do the trick, but also I loved the taste!
Nowadays, pomegranate juice is available on most supermarkets shelves. Pomegranate syrup or molasses (sour variety) is often used in Middle Eastern and Persian dishes. The sweet variety is used in desserts or in cocktails as Grenadine. Pomegranate Juice tends to be quite expensive. However, if you live in places where it’s widely available, you can make the juice yourself. Pomegranate seeds are delicious sprinkled on your salad, or just eat a bowl of seeds lightly sprinkled with sugar and orange blossom essence, yummy!
Tip to extract pomegranate seeds
Slice the crown end off and gently cut the rind vertically from top to bottom in quarters. Place the pomegranate in a bowl of water. Carefully break the sections apart, (pomegranate juice stains!) prying the seeds from the membrane with your fingers. Remove the thin membranes that separate the clusters of seeds. The seeds will sink and the rind and membranes will float. Gather up the seeds in a colander.
Pomegranate Guacamole Recipe
2 large ripe avocados
1/2 large onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 fresh chiles, serranos, seeded
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
1 freshly squeezed lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
Finely chop the onion, garlic, chilies serranos, and coriander leaves. Place in bowl and add lime juice and salt, set aside. Peel and pit the avocados and place in a bowl. Mash with fork slowly adding the tablespoon of pomegranate juice. Add onion and garlic mixture and fold together to make a coarse pulp. Gently fold in pomegranate seeds. Serve with warm tortillas, tostadas, or corn chips.
FYI: One medium size pomegranate will yield about 3/4 cup of seeds or 1/2 cup of juice
Keep in mind that most of the fiber you get from eating pomegranates comes from the seed. So to keep up with a healthy dose of daily fiber, crunch on!
Recipe provided by the Pomegranate Council
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