Did you know that pomegranates are becoming so popular today because of its many health benefits? In fact, many claim that this plant has a range of beneficial plant compounds more than other foods.
If you don’t know what a pomegranate is, here are some important information about this wonder fruit and how you will be able to benefit from it.
What is a Pomegranate?
These are round, reddish-brown fruits with a hard, smooth outer covering. They normally grow on shrub-like trees and are similar in size to a navel orange.
During the winter months, pomegranates are in season, making it a good addition to a holiday table.
In comparison to other fruits like apple or banana, pomegranates tend to be expensive. But the fruit and its juice are used by many Indian, Iranian, Greek, Mexican, and Turkish dishes.
At the same time, its juice can be used as an effective natural dye.
How to Use Pomegranate?
You can eat fresh pomegranate seeds as a sweet-tart snack, garnish or ingredient, or even when dried. You can also extract the juice by pressing the opened fruit.
The fresh juice is sometimes cooked until thick in order to create molasses. Apart from that, you can also dry or freeze the seeds.
However, you must be careful not to stain your fingers or clothes because the juice can be used as a natural dye. So you have to use an apron when working with the fruit so that you can avoid any splashes that might spot your clothing.
You can also stain plastic containers, so it is advisable that you use disposable plastic bags or glass if possible. Aluminum or carbon steel knives and cooking vessels are not advisable because they can turn the pomegranate juice bitter.
What Does It Taste Like?
Pomegranate is a juicy fruit having a sweet and tart flavor. In some cases, it is used instead of citrus juice in order to add brightness to a dish or drink. You may also observe that the seeds are crunchy and juicy, while it adds more balance to rich dishes such as dips and stews.
Where Can You Purchase Pomegranate
You can buy fresh pomegranates from your local grocery from late fall to early spring season. Most of the time, they are sold individually and priced per pound or per fruit.
If you belong to a region that grows pomegranates, you would be able to find it at your local farmers’ market. But you can buy dried or frozen seeds all-year-round, as well as pomegranate molasses and juice.
You can grow pomegranate fruit trees in regions with similar climates as the Mediterranean, such as parts of California. Pomegranate trees tend to bear fruit after 2 years of transplant, which you can even grow in pots.
Cutting a Pomegranate
Note that pomegranate juice will stain, but you don’t have to destroy the seeds while removing them.
If you are going to cut them in half through the middle, while using a spoon to whack the arils out of the fruit, it can be messy. Thus, it is not the way to cut it.
- Slice the Bottom Of The Fruit
Use a sharp knife to slice ¼-inch off the stem end and place it cut side down to stabilize it. The one that looks like a crown is the blossom end, which should be on top.
- Cut And Remove The Crown Of The Fruit
With a paring knife, cut a circle at the shallow angle around the crown, cutting it out.
- Make Shallow Vertical Cuts
Along the ridges on the outside of the fruit, make shallow, vertical cuts. With a knife, cut along those ridges, going through the red portion of the skin, from blossom end to stem end. This will make around 6 cuts.
If you can’t feel the ridges, it is okay, just make some gentle cuts from top to bottom around it.
- Pry It Open The Fruit
Pry open the fruit gently by using your fingers. The fruit will open easily exposing the seeds or arils. Go on opening the sections, wherein you can pry open 6 sections after making 6 cuts.
- Pry The Seeds Away From The Membranes And Peel
Use a large bowl to contain all the seeds in it as you open. Use your fingers to pry away the arils from the peels and membranes. You may fill the bowl partly with water to make it easier to separate the seeds from the membranes.
Need to skim the membranes from the top of the water and strain the seeds from the bottom. You can put the seeds inside a serving bowl and munch away if you like. Just like the stain that can get into the carpet if seeds fall into it. Chill it in an airtight container for 3-4 days or you can eat it right away.
Health Benefits of Pomegranates
- Important Nutrients
As mentioned earlier, pomegranate or Punica granatum is a shrub that bears a red fruit. It is categorized as a berry, which grows from about 5-12cm or 2-5 inches in diameter.
Apart from the attractive appearance of this fruit, it offers a number of nutrients, such as fiber, protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and potassium. The fruit is also rich in powerful plant compounds and some have potent medicinal properties.
- Contains Two Plant Compounds
There are 2 unique substances that you can get from pomegranates, which are responsible for most of the health benefits.
- Punicalagins – You can find punicalagins in pomegranate juice and peels, which are potent antioxidants. In fact, there are 3 times the antioxidant capacity of green tea and red wine.
- Punicic Acid – You can find punicic acid from the pomegranate seed oil, which is the major fatty acid in the arils. This is a type of conjugated linoleic acid having some potent biological effects.
- Contains Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Note that many serious diseases are caused by chronic inflammation. These may include Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Moreover, pomegranates have potent anti-inflammatory properties due to the antioxidant properties of punicalagins.
In fact, a number of studies have proven that pomegranate can reduce any inflammatory activity inside the digestive tract, including colon cancer and breast cancer cells.
Likewise, people with diabetes who took 250ml of pomegranate juice daily lowered the inflammatory markers interleukin-6 and CRP by 30% and 32%, respectively.
- Fights Certain Types Of Cancer
The compounds found in pomegranate have been discovered by scientists to be able to deter cancer formation and progression. Studies show that the fruit holds the promise to fight against breast, colon, liver, lung, and prostate cancers.