In Greek mythology, Hades tips the kidnapped goddess Persephone into staying within the underworld with him for a part of annually by leaving a bowl of pomegranate seeds at her facet. In that darkish, dreary place, the ruby-jeweled fruits will surely have appeared essentially the most alluring and luscious issues in sight. Persephone, based on the tales, nibbled on six of the seeds, which based on a legislation that I might not need to be certain by, meant that she was obligated to spend six months a yr subsequent to her now-husband, the somber god of the useless.
That’s a reasonably creepy method to start an article about probably the greatest, happiest, and healthiest fruits on the planet: the wonderful pomegranate. But wait — it will get worse. Getting its identify from the Latin for “apple” (pomme) and “seed” (granatus), the fruit is thought in France as “grenade,” and you understand the place that’s headed.
But let’s depart the speak of abduction and conflict behind, and give attention to all the great issues about pomegranates. Because the worst factor that can really occur to you when you eat a pomegranate is that you just would possibly stain your new white shirt.
The Rise of the Pomegranate
In the yr 2000, solely round 4 % of Americans had ever tasted a pomegranate, however that was quickly to alter. The pomegranate craze within the United States started that yr, fueled by the aggressive advertising and distribution methods of a California-based firm with the modest identify “Wonderful.” You could have seen their shapely POM bottle within the grocery retailer.
Many shops started to hold complete pomegranates, pomegranate juice, in addition to containers stuffed with pomegranate seeds. But as you could have seen, pomegranate merchandise are comparatively costly. Why is that? Well, as a result of despite the fact that pomegranates are comparatively simple to develop and harvest, it takes intensive processing to take away the arils (or the seeds and pink juice surrounding the seeds) from the flesh of the fruit.
While their reputation is newer within the US, pomegranates have an extended historical past of utilization within the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. In 2017, the full world manufacturing of pomegranate was estimated at three.eight million metric tons, proof of its massive client demand, which continues to develop as extra folks uncover the scrumptious fruit.
Even historic writings display how fashionable pomegranates have been in centuries previous. Many have described pomegranate as a sacred fruit that supplied fertility, abundance, and luck to their folks. The pomegranate can be a standard image utilized in Armenian and Persian cultures, signifying authority over loss of life and safety towards the evil eye. And at present, many wellness influencers have bestowed superfood standing upon it.
In this text, we’ll take a look at the science and practicalities of pomegranate consumption. How wholesome are pomegranates for you? Is it good to drink pomegranate juice? What about their affect on the surroundings? And how precisely do you eat one (with out making a large number)?
What Are Pomegranates?
The pomegranate is a spherical fruit with a “crown” that grows on a tree initially native to Iran, the Armenian highlands, and northern India. Today Iran, the world’s largest producer of pomegranates, grows over 740 completely different kinds of the fruit.
Pomegranates are categorized as a fleshy berry (which is simpler to say 5 instances quick than I predicted), however they really belong to their very own botanical household, known as Punicaceae. While the commonest shade of pomegranate is pink, the fruit additionally is available in pink, yellow, and white. The fruit’s intense shade, and that of its juice, comes from antioxidant flavonoid compounds known as anthocyanins. The completely different kinds of pomegranate additionally vary in taste from candy to bitter. Sadly, I’ve by no means come throughout white pomegranates, that are apparently tremendous candy in comparison with their pink and pink counterparts.
Have you ever had the urge to rely the arils in a pomegranate? Me neither. But an early estimate from the Jewish custom places the precise quantity at 613, which is identical because the variety of commandments within the Torah. Hence the fruit is usually consumed on the Jewish New Year, reminding adherents of their intentions for the approaching 12 months. Botanists who’ve counted the arils give a wider vary between 200 to 800 — relying on the person fruit. The clear, reddish fruit flesh of the aril surrounds a tiny, crisp seed, and the entire seed is edible.
Pomegranates are sometimes known as dietary superfoods, and for good motive. They’re excessive in phytochemicals and antioxidants comparable to flavonols — and the anthocyanins that give them their pigment. In truth, analysis has discovered that the pomegranate has an antioxidant potential even larger than that present in pink wine or inexperienced tea, two different meals famend for his or her superfood standing.
These colourful fruits additionally include a lot of necessary nutritional vitamins and minerals. For occasion, they’re a superb supply of vitamin C, vitamin K1, potassium, and folate. One medium-sized pomegranate provides round 11 grams of fiber. And in the event you puzzled whether or not fruits have protein, a pomegranate incorporates a whopping 5 grams. (Not unhealthy for a fruit that’s additionally 82% water!)
The seeds encapsulated within the arils additionally include a lot of antioxidants in addition to a singular fatty acid known as punicic acid, which can have advantages for lowering irritation and insulin resistance, based on some animal research.
Keep in thoughts that it’s the pomegranate arils — not the juice alone — that present the fiber and the protein. Plus, when pomegranates are processed into juice, a lot of their water-soluble B nutritional vitamins and vitamin C, in addition to another minerals, are diminished or misplaced. And whereas each the arils and the juice include a substantial quantity of sugar, each types are thought-about to be low to mid-range on the glycemic index, that means that they’re not going to spike your blood sugar dramatically after consuming them. Still, I’d advocate consuming the entire arils, together with the seeds inside, to get essentially the most diet.
While pomegranates are undoubtedly nutrient-packed, many of the research carried out on them have both used a fruit extract, pomegranate juice, or a pomegranate seed oil, versus the entire fruit. These research take a look at the effectiveness of pomegranate compounds towards a sure ailment, comparable to most cancers.
Whole fruit extract would possible be the closest factor to consuming a complete pomegranate, however the research could use extracts from arils, the peel, juice, or extracted polyphenols from the fruit. So, whereas sure helpful results from these research can’t essentially be utilized to the entire fruit, that doesn’t imply together with the fruit in your eating regimen is a foul concept. In truth, given what we all know in regards to the synergistic results of the compounds in complete meals, it’s solely potential (maybe possible) that consuming pomegranate seeds together with the juices surrounding the seeds confers much more profit than these research recommend.
Some of the advantages of pomegranate compounds seen in research embody the next:
1. May have anticancer properties.
Various human, lab, and animal research have examined the potential position of pomegranate within the remedy of breast, prostate, lung, colon, pores and skin, and liver cell cancers. Pomegranate exhibits promising anticancer properties, which can come from the antioxidant and polyphenolic compounds within the fruit’s peel, seed oil, and juice.
Pomegranate extract has demonstrated anti-tumor exercise in a number of organs and proven cancer-preventive properties. Some animal research have seen pomegranate extract assist inhibit prostate and lung tumor progress. And one human trial discovered that pomegranate juice consumption helped sluggish biomarkers of prostate most cancers development. Pomegranate seed oil has additionally proven promise in stopping colon most cancers and lowering breast most cancers progress in rat fashions.
And a 2018 overview from Oncology Reviews acknowledged that each one components of the pomegranate have been discovered to indicate anticancer exercise by quite a lot of analysis, and may proceed to be studied.
2. May be good to your coronary heart.
Pomegranate juice is wealthy in polyphenols with antioxidant exercise that could be coronary heart protecting. Studies have discovered that they assist to stop the exercise of serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (it’s a superb factor we don’t need to be versed in biochemistry to reap the advantages of maintaining a healthy diet meals!) and scale back systolic blood stress — two coronary heart illness danger elements.
The essential bioactive element of pomegranate seed oil, punicic acid, has been proven to assist forestall the buildup of plaque within the arteries. And a 2010 human research noticed the power of 800 mg of pomegranate seed oil per day to scale back triglycerides considerably amongst adults with hyperlipidemia.
Other research have seen two to 14 weeks of pomegranate juice consumption assist scale back the formation of LDL (“bad”) levels of cholesterol amongst people and animals. And in one other research, concentrated pomegranate juice given to folks with diabetes and hyperlipidemia was in a position to considerably scale back a lot of doubtlessly problematic blood fat. And pomegranate leaf extract given to overweight, hyperlipidemic mice for 5 weeks (I hate to think about what was achieved to them to make them overweight and hyperlipidemic) was in a position to scale back physique weight, whole ldl cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar ranges.
three. May supply anti-inflammatory advantages.
Many of the well being advantages of pomegranates demonstrated in human, lab, and animal research could also be because of the fruit’s anti-inflammatory compounds. Given that irritation is a key issue underlying many of the main power illnesses of our instances, that is promising information.
One research discovered that urolithins, compounds made in your intestine once you devour ellagic acid (discovered abundantly in pomegranates), may also help inhibit mind irritation. In truth, the anti-inflammatory advantages of pomegranate could assist forestall the event of neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s. Punicalagin, one other polyphenolic compound in pomegranates, might also have anti-inflammatory exercise that helps forestall reminiscence impairment.
four. May assist enhance blood glucose management.
Research has discovered that pomegranate juice and its elements could supply constructive results on blood sugar for some folks. The polyphenols and the antioxidant compounds in pomegranates could assist to regulate sort 2 diabetes.
For occasion, polyphenols in pomegranate juice could assist scale back postprandial hyperglycemia (that means “high blood sugar after eating”), which is linked to sort 2 diabetes. Clinical research amongst folks with sort 2 diabetes have additionally discovered that pomegranate seed oil may also help scale back fasting blood sugar.
5. May be pores and skin protecting.
Pomegranate could assist shield towards sun-induced pores and skin harm, together with the danger of pores and skin cancers. In one research, the actions of pomegranate juice, extract, and seed oil have been examined towards ultraviolet pores and skin harm. All of them appeared to supply protecting advantages. And the direct topical software of ellagic acid decreased the manufacturing of inflammatory compounds on the pores and skin.
6. May be good to your oral well being.
Your mouth is stuffed with germs, however the excellent news is that consuming a nutritious diet could maintain problematic ones at bay — and pomegranate could assist.
One research noticed the anti-plaque results of pomegranate mouth rinse, which could possibly be useful in stopping cavities. And in one other research, a hydroalcoholic pomegranate extract induced an 84% discount in dental plaque microorganisms.
Environmental Impacts of Pomegranate
While pomegranates appear to be good for you, are they nearly as good for the surroundings? Here are some issues to contemplate when buying pomegranates.
Pesticides on Pomegranates
Pesticide contamination isn’t a major subject with pomegranates — at the least within the US. The Environmental Working Group, which appears on the security of standard produce primarily based on pesticide contamination, has no issues with the fruit. The pomegranate’s naturally thick pores and skin helps to guard the edible portion of the fruit from publicity to pesticides and different contaminants.
However, there are different causes to assist natural farming every time you may, comparable to its affect on soil, air, and water in comparison with standard farming, in addition to the well being of farmworkers. Those nonetheless apply, even when the direct good thing about natural to the buyer could also be small.
As far as packaging, shopping for the entire fruit is an effective way to keep away from extra plastic. But it additionally requires extra delivery quantity, since lots of the pomegranate isn’t edible. If you’re planning to juice your pomegranates, then shopping for pre-juiced pomegranates may very well be extra sustainable in the long term.
Pomegranate timber tolerate drought nicely and may thrive with drip irrigation. However, nearly all the pomegranates obtainable within the US come from California, which faces frequent droughts. Most pomegranate orchards situated there use flood or furrow irrigation methods, by which depressed trenches subsequent to rows of timber are flooded with water, which slowly soaks into the soil. This technique might be wasteful if it’s not managed correctly.
Additionally, it’s price noting that the US’s largest producer of pomegranate merchandise, The Wonderful Company, has been concerned in controversy (and a lawsuit) surrounding the privatization of a serious water financial institution in California utilized by farmers and the navy. The crops in query are pistachios, not pomegranates. But Wonderful Co. could also be much less fantastic to the surroundings than their upbeat identify suggests. (They additionally personal Fiji water, whose relationship with the folks of Fiji is ethically questionable, and which ships water around the globe in plastic bottles and runs its manufacturing facility on diesel gasoline — hardly examples of sustainability.)
Pomegranates & Food Waste
Unfortunately, pomegranate farming additionally generates a considerable amount of meals waste. Whole fruits are sometimes discarded due to solar harm, which causes the pores and skin to crack, in addition to their publicity to quite a lot of pests, and from loss throughout transport. As a outcome, pomegranate waste contributes considerably to landfill waste and air pollution. But alternative routes to make use of in any other case discarded pomegranates are being investigated to assist scale back waste, together with utilizing their peels as biofuel and compost. I personally assume it might be cool if baseballs, basketballs, and footballs used pomegranate pores and skin somewhat than cowhide.
Pomegranates & Carbon Sequestration
In Peru, pomegranates have been studied, with some promising outcomes, for his or her potential to assist sequester carbon. More work is required to realize internet constructive carbon fixation in these agricultural methods, nevertheless, for the reason that greenhouse gases launched by sure agricultural practices nonetheless outweigh the carbon elimination affect.
Where to Find Pomegranates
In the US, recent pomegranates typically develop into obtainable in September or October and can be found till January. But if pomegranate juice is your jam, you may get it year-round in most grocery shops, particularly when frozen or in any other case preserved.
In India, pomegranates are in season in the summertime by October. Both the entire fruit and its seeds might be present in grocery shops, markets (together with farmers markets and bazaars), and community-supported agriculture farms.
Feeling impressed? You would possibly have the ability to develop your individual pomegranate timber, both from a seed or a sapling, though it takes round two years to bear fruit. They develop greatest in zones 7-10, however can be grown in containers. In the early years, pomegranate timber typically produce 20-25 fruits per season, however over time this will enhance to 200-250 fruits. How many arils is that? According to the quantity described within the Jewish custom, it could possibly be north of 150,000!
How to Choose and Store a Pomegranate
It’s clear that pomegranates have earned consideration for a spot in our diets, given their quite a few well being and diet advantages. So how do you select the most effective ones and ensure they’re well-preserved?
Look for fruits that really feel very heavy for his or her measurement, as this means a superb quantity of juicy flesh and seeds on the within. Avoid pomegranates which have any seen bruises or black spots on their rinds.
Pomegranates have a naturally lengthy shelf-life, and correct storage is essential to serving to them obtain it. Keep your complete fruits in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place that’s out of direct daylight. They can be stored within the fridge for as much as two months — so long as you don’t retailer them in a sealed plastic bag.
Once you slice open your pomegranate and take away the arils, they may maintain within the fridge for as much as 5 days — as will pomegranate juice. The arils can be frozen for later use. Just unfold them in a single layer onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Freeze them not more than two hours, after which switch them to a moisture-proof freezer bag or hermetic container for storage. Place them again into the freezer and use them inside a yr.
How to Open a Pomegranate
Cutting open a pomegranate might be considerably tough (which is why it warrants its personal part).
To open your pomegranate, begin by slicing the highest “crown” or knob off with a knife. Approximately an inch beneath that piece, use your knife to, once more, gently slice — however not minimize all through — a circle round the entire fruit. Think of it as opening a cardboard field that incorporates one thing precious. You need to open the package deal, not intestine the contents. Turn your knife perpendicular to this final minimize and put in six to eight extra floor cuts to divide the highest of your fruit into wedges. Then, utilizing the blade of your knife, and your finger, peel off the wedges of pores and skin to reveal the arils and flesh of the fruit.
Once the entire high of the pomegranate is uncovered, you’ll see pure divider strains within the flesh between teams of arils. Use your knife to slice downwards alongside every of those dividers to the opposite, uncut, finish of the fruit. You can then use your fingers to peel off massive wedges of the fruit to make a flower-like form. From right here, all the arils are accessible so that you can take away and revel in!
For you visible learners, right here’s a video tutorial on methods to get the arils from a pomegranate. I’d skip the transfer proven at seven seconds the place she sticks a knife into her mouth, although.
How to Use Pomegranate
Pomegranate is good and scrumptious. You can use it in all places, from smoothies to desserts — and whilst a part of meals.
The juice is fantastic in smoothies, to make tea, integrated into mocktails, and even utilized in chilly soups like gazpacho. To juice a pomegranate, slice it in half such as you would a grapefruit, and use an electrical or hand-press juicer. Be cautious to keep away from juicing the white flesh, as this may change the flavour of your juice and make it bitter. Strain your juice by a cheesecloth to take away any chunks and particles.
You may make juice by eradicating all the arils and including them to a high-speed blender with some water, combining till clean, after which straining. Note that in the event you’re going to juice your individual pomegranate, making one cup of recent pomegranate juice usually requires between two to 4 fruits, relying on their measurement.
Pomegranate arils can be utilized in a lot of methods. You can sprinkle them complete over plant-based yogurt, in a single day oats, sizzling oatmeal, blended inexperienced salads, vegetable facet dishes, and whole-grain dishes. They additionally make a candy, crunchy addition to recent salsa and different sauces, dips, and dressings. I really like consuming them as a snack by the handful, together with some nuts, like a path combine. And after all, their sweetness goes nicely with desserts like candy bread, crisps, tarts, or as a topper for n’ice cream and muffins.
Mouthwatering Pomegranate Recipes
Whether you mix pomegranates right into a scrumptious dressing, add the candy and tart arils to an earthy kale salad, or infuse your favourite fruit smoothie with pomegranate juice, you’re certain to fall in love with the flexibility of pomegranates and the refreshing taste they provide. The recipes beneath are easy, and each takes lower than 30 minutes to create. Because of this, we advise attempting all three of them!
1. Pomegranate Balsamic Dressing
A balsamic dressing filled with superfoods? Sign us up! Pomegranates are a superb supply of vitamin C, folate, and anthocyanins, whereas walnuts include magnesium and vitamin B6. Both are filled with fiber, and there are a number of added bonuses. This dressing is gentle, refreshing, and flavorful! It’s excellent for roasted autumn squash, a winter grain bowl, a spring salad, or grilled summer season veggies.
2. Kale Pomegranate Salad with Chopped Walnuts and Sliced Apples
If you’re new to including pomegranate arils to salads, then you definately’re in for a deal with! Their candy and tart taste enhances the earthy kale and candy apples properly. Plus, they’re gentle and refreshing, particularly subsequent to a hardy inexperienced like kale! Enjoy this salad year-round, from a refreshing meal on a summer season night to a colourful dish for a winter vacation social gathering.
three. Pomegranate Poached Pears with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Poaching fruit is an effective way to infuse quite a lot of enjoyable flavors into it, and these pears aren’t any exception. The similar technique can be utilized with different fruits, comparable to apples, apricots, peaches, oranges, and plums. You may even poach dried fruit! Flavorful, antioxidant-rich, naturally candy treats? Absolutely! P.S. Pair (or pear?) with the Vanilla Cashew Cream for an additional particular deal with.
Pomegranates Are Beyond Wonderful
The pomegranate is a extremely nutritious fruit that has earned its repute as a superfood because of its multitude of well being advantages, together with its plentiful antioxidants. Its juice and seeds even have a lot of culinary makes use of in each candy and savory recipes. Overall, pomegranate is usually a wholesome, purposeful meals as a part of a balanced eating regimen.
Tell us within the feedback:
- Do you take pleasure in pomegranates?
- Have you tried pomegranate juice earlier than?
- In what methods have you ever used pomegranate juice or arils in recipes?
Feature picture: iStock.com/ISD90