Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pomegranates: The Juice is Definitely Worth the Squeeze

Prepare to be surprised by the often-overlooked benefits of yet another peculiar super-food. You have probably heard of pomegranate; there’s a good chance you've even tasted it. But how much do you actually know about pomegranate nutrition?

Photo of a pomegranate
Photo from
Firstly, to give you some background on the pomegranate, we have to travel back to the beginning of time. Biblical time, that is. According to the Global Healing Center, Persians and many other scholars believe that pomegranate is the forbidden fruit that Eve actually plucked from the Tree of Knowledge, as opposed to the traditional interpretation of it being an apple. Pomegranate has other interesting ties to the apple, as well. The word “pomegranate” literally comes from the Middle French word “pomme garnete” for “seeded apple.” It is also occasionally referred to as a “Chinese apple.” This unorthodox, rather mysterious fruit has its roots in many other cultures, typically symbolizing prosperity and abundance. 

So what is it about eating a pomegranate that captured everyone’s attention? Between the pomegranate itself, pomegranate seeds, and pomegranate juice, there are plenty of varieties to choose from. The most widely celebrated attribute in all of them is the high level of all three types of polyphenols, an especially potent antioxidant. According to the health research on, it is extremely rare that any fruit has all three (tannins, anthocyanins, and elegiac acid), yet alone such a high level of each. It is also unusual for the juice of a fruit to be just as healthy as its fruit or seeds, which pomegranate juice boasts. Although the inedible peel contains the bulk of the antioxidants, much of it is released when the fruit is squeezed during the juicing process. Therefore, the benefits of pomegranate juice rival the nutritional content of any other fruit juice. In addition to all of this, pomegranates are loaded with vitamin C and potassium, are a good source of fiber, and are low in calories.

If you've never tried pomegranate before, I have a hunch about what you’re thinking. “Something this healthy can’t possibly taste great, can it?” Actually, it can and it does. Many people love its mildly acidic and sweet, cranberry-like taste. It’s packed with flavor without being tart. It’s also extremely versatile and can be eaten alone or as a part of a pomegranate recipe. Some of the most popular ones are pomegranate salad recipes.  No matter what form you are enjoying pomegranate in, the first step is always the same— discard the inedible rind. The Global Healing Center recommends a fuss-free way to get at the pomegranate seeds:
  1. Cut off the crown and throw it away.
  2. Score and slice the rind all around, but don’t cut the rind all the way through.
  3. Soak the pomegranate face down in cold water for about ten minutes.
  4. While the pomegranate is still in the bowl of water, break apart the scored rinds, and remove the seeds from the flesh (the seeds will sink to the bottom of your bowl).
  5. Remove the rind and membrane from the bowl with a sieve or spoon.
  6. Drain the seeds with a colander and pat dry with a paper towel.
Be careful during this process, as the deep red color of the pomegranate can stain everything from your hands to your counter tops. Once the seeds are free, you have the option to incorporate them into a variety of recipes. A good list of categorized recipes can be found at For your first pomegranate salad, we recommend trying one of their recipes:

Pomegranate and Papaya Salad with Ginger Dressing

photo from
Ingredients (for six servings): 

2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger or a generous ¼ teaspoon powdered
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium pomegranate, seeded
2 heads endive, separated into leaves
3 quarts baby lettuce or other torn lettuce leaves
1 medium papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green part of green onion

Dressing directions:

Mix lemon juice and the next 6 ingredients; whisk in oil and then reserve. On a large serving platter, arrange endive leaves like spokes with tips pointing out. Toss papaya with 1 tablespoon dressing, then reserve. Toss lettuce with remaining dressing and mound over endive leaves. Top with reserved papaya, then sprinkle with pomegranate arils and green onion.

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer

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