“Pomegranate is a fruit of paradise. There is one seed from Paradise in every pomegranate growing on the earth.”
Autumn is here in Melbourne. Along with the welcome rain and cool weather comes an abundance of wonderful Autumnal produce. Mushrooms, mandarins, apples and pears in all their autumnal glory and alongside them, the luscious pomegranate. This week I was delighted to see the first beautiful, generous pomegranates in my greengrocers shop. Along with their beauty and astringent taste they bring so many health benefits.
The pomegranate originally hails from Persia where it has been used medicinally for thousands of years.From Persia it spread through the Middle East, Asia and the Mediterranean. Today it’s widely grown across the globe, including here in Australia.
Throughout history the pomegranate has been regarded as a symbol of most of the fundamental beliefs and desires of humanity, with almost every part of the fruit having significance. According to Greek mythology the pomegranate even played a role in the change of season. It was said this occurs because Persephone ate a pomegranate seed, dooming her to return to the underworld (or winter) for one third of the year. In Ancient Egypt the pomegranate was regarded as a symbol of prosperity and ambition. Whereas in China and many other places, it signified fertility.
It’s very easy to understand the magic of the pomegranate given the glossy, glowing skin and the rich generous colour of the distinctive ruby red seeds when the fruit is broken open.
Fruits and vegetables that are brightly coloured tend to be high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help your body by clearing up excess oxidants, or free radicals. If left to run wild in your body free radicals cause inflammation and lead to disease. The ORAC score highlights pomegranates them as one of the ‘richest sources of free-radical scavenging antioxidants’. Therefore they’re a powerful tool to prevent those diseases with a strong inflammatory basis like arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
Pomegranates are rich sources of antioxidant phytonutrients, including flavonoids and polyphenols, which protect against free radicals. They also contain a wide range of other nutrients. These include most of the B Vitamins (including folate), zinc, magnesium, and iron, amongst others. But they are particularly high in Vitamin C, potassium, and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5).
Pomegranate seeds are used effectively against heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers, including prostate cancer.
Studies have shown that pomegranate juice may protect against some cancers. In addition it may modify heart disease risk factors. This study showed drinking pomegranate juice for two weeks lowers reduced systolic blood pressure. And this 2006 study found that drinking a 225ml glass of pomegranate juice every day significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer in men with recurring prostate cancer.
Ayurvedic medicine uses the healing power of the bark and rind of the pomegranate fruit to treat a wide range of disorders. These include diarrhoea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. The seeds are used as a heart or throat tonic. Due to their powerful astringent qualities the fruit are considered useful for stopping nosebleeds or bleeding gums.
HOW TO USE POMEGRANATE
With pomegranates now in the shops it is time to reap their benefits. When you use them fresh you gain greater health benefits over using the stored juice.
The benefits of pomegranates are so high that you don’t need much to do you good. Even a 30-50ml shot of juice is enough to have significant benefits. Rather than a beverage, consider the juice as a herbal treatment and take a smaller amount. Just 50ml a day will sustain healthy heart benefits.
You can’t really overdose on the juice but many people drink more juice than they need. The problem with drinking lots of fruit juice is the high sugar content. Even if it contains no added sugar it is still high in the natural sugar fructose. Fructose causes digestive problems for many, as well as big rises in their insulin levels. Because the fruit is high in fibre the sugars are released more slowly, but nonetheless may cause problems.
While the fruits are in season eat the fresh seeds rather than drinking pomegranate juice. Otherwise drink smaller quantities of the juice, even if it is unsweetened.
If you can obtain fresh pomegranates this Autumn the seeds make a tasty tart addition to many dishes. Salads, smoothies, desserts, marinades, martinis are just some dishes that benefit from added pomegranate.
Pomegranate seed oil is made by cold pressing the seeds and is extremely nutritious and rich. Pomegranate oil is often added to skin care products for its wonderfully regenerative qualities.
Here is how pomegranate seed oil benefits skin:
• Re-invigorates skin
• Attacks free radicals which contribute to ageing
• Protects against sun damage
• Can control acne breakout when used on oily skin
• Anti-inflammatory and calms red, irritated skin
• Wound healing
• Supports hormonal balance in women and men
• Can reduce visible signs of ageing
• Helps with collagen production to firm skin
• Revitalises dull, dry hair
• Stimulates blood circulation in scalp, strengthens blood vessels, increases hair growth
• Clears dandruff and flaky skin debris from the scalp
• Anti-pruritic – therefore soothes and fights bacteria, inflammation and itchiness
• Contains vitamin C which is necessary for good health and growth of hair
• Balances the pH of the scalp
So with all that goodness how could you resist the glorious pomegranate? Why not get some today and enjoy all the pomegranate benefits?
“I peel a pomegranate and say to myself, Weren’t it good if one could see the seeds of people hearts. Tears come when the juice splashes in my eyes.” ~ Sohrab Sepehri
How do you use pomegranate? For your skin, general health or to combat disease?
Tell us in the comments below.
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only. They are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation with your health care provider. Do not use this article to diagnose a health condition. Speak to your doctor if you think your condition may be serious or before discontinuing any prescribed medication. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.