Pomegranate: Rubies for your palate

The not-so-popular pomegranate is actually a wonder-fruit

PomegranteThe name "pomegranate" is derived from a Latin word that means "apple with many seeds". Although pomegranates are great fun-food they are not so popular, because of the hard work it takes to eat it and of course the edible portion of the fruit being very small. However, in the bargain, pomegranate juice has gained all the popularity.

Pomegranate power

Nutritionally, pomegranates are rich in potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folic acid and polyphenols.

Given below are 10 super benefits of this wonder-fruit:

  1. Anti-oxidant - Pomegranate juice is a powerhouse of anti-oxidants. It may have 2-3 times the anti-oxidant power of green tea and red wine. Studies have indicated its effect in reducing incidence of cancers - breast, skin and prostate. The rich supply of anti-oxidants protect the body cells from the damaging effect of free radicals found in oxygen, thus preventing premature aging, stroke and Alzheimer's disease. Anti-inflammatory phytochemicals found in pomegranate juice have also shown a positive effect on blood pressure.
  2. Natural aspirin - Pomegranate juice works well as a blood thinner. As little as one-fourth cup of pomegranate juice daily can improve your cardiac health by reducing oxidation of LDL cholesterol [LDL or low-density lipoprotein is called bad cholesterol. It has been implicated in coronary heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis disease and heart attack]. Daily dose of pomegranate juice promotes easy blood flow to the heart and reduces blockages. The sugar present in freshly drawn juice does not negatively affect diabetics. However stay away from readymade juices as it may be loaded with extra sugar.
  3. Decrease bone loss - what makes this fruit even more interesting is its preventive effect on cartilage damage. It could be a great tasty medicine for osteoarthritis.
  4. Natural viagra - Pomegranate has always been associated with love; it is involved in boosting fertility and sex drive. It also has a corrective effect on erectile dysfunction due to its powerful anti-oxidant properties. You never know it just might work as a natural Viagra.
  5. Symbol of abundance - for the ancient Chinese, pomegranate symbolises longevity, immortality and abundance, perhaps because of the round 800 seeds found in each pomegranate. It is also considered as an auspicious and prestigious fruit in Indian weddings.
  6. Pregnancy food - Pomegranate juice is believed to be a great source of folic acid which is required for the healthy development of babies. Drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily is certainly the easiest and the tastiest way for pregnant mothers to ensure that their babies get a daily dose of folic acid. In fact it is also believed to reduce chances of premature babies.
  7. Natural botox - the battle against wrinkles can be won by eating pomegranates. Pomegranate juice can help you get rid of unwanted lines and also make existing wrinkles smoother. Now you have a new beauty secret.
  8. Wonder tonic - Pomegranate juice can work as a miracle tonic for those who suffer from chronic diarrhoea. Pomegranates are also considered a wonderful bladder and kidney tonic, especially for elderly people. However people with a history of kidney stones should avoid this fruit.
  9. Fight bacteria - Pomegranate is also known for its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that soothe ulcers of the mouth and throat. It's a natural medicine that strengthens gums and destroys worms in the intestinal tract.
  10. Pamper yourself - Pomegranate juice is believed to help women in overcoming the feeling of general malaise during menopause.

POME it up

Splash in the beautiful red seeds in your meals!

  • The pomegranate seeds can be used in salads, desserts, garnishes, bhel, chaat, chutney, pulao, dabeli, and poha. Try giving a twist to pakoras, by adding some dehydrated pomegranate seeds in the batter.
  • The juice can be used in making of sauces, smoothies, marinade, jelly and vinaigrettes.
  • Make amazing mocktails. A few must-try combos - pomegranate-cranberry juice, pomegranate-guava juice, pomegranate-pineapple juice, pomegranate-orange juice, pomegranate-banana juice. You can be a little more innovative and add ice cubes made from pomegranate juice to your drink.

A few handy tips

  • Seeds represent about half the weight of the fruit, so heavier the pomegranate the better is the quality.
  • The skin should be shiny without any cracks.
  • You can store the fruit in a cool place for a month. It can be stored in the fridge for two months. Juice can be stored for up to six months.
  • If you freeze the seeds first, they apparently yield more juice.
  • To make the cleaning process easier for you, after separating the kernel put the seeds in a bowl of water. This separates the bitter membrane which floats while the seeds settle down.

You never know with advancing research, like seed-less watermelons and grapes we can expect seedless pomegranate in the near future too. Meanwhile - as a dietician - I believe that the little hard work of patiently peeling each and every pomegranate kernel is definitely worth a handful of health benefits.

Did You Know?

In Turkey, pomegranates form an interesting part in the wedding custom. The bride is asked to throw the fruit on the ground and it is believed that the number of seeds that fall out will predict the number of kids the newly wedded couple will have.

More facts about pomegranate

The edible fruit from one medium pomegranate contains 104 calories, 1.5 gm protein, 26.4 gm carbohydrates, 9 mg vitamin C and 399 mg potassium.

Whole pomegranates keep well at room temperature for several days, away from sunlight. They remain edible up to two months if refrigerated in plastic bags.

Seeds can be refrigerated for up to three days. Freeze in single layers on trays; then up to six months in airtight containers. Remove only the seeds you plan to use.

Juice can be refrigerated for up to three days. If frozen, it can last up to six months.

- Team CW

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Payal Ahuja
Payal Ahuja is a Mumbai-based dietician and consultant. She conducts workshops on lifestyle management and weight management programmes on TV. Ahuja is also IPC-certified auditor for ISO-9001:2000, and author of the book, Combating Childhood Obesity.

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