Pomegranate

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 20. Oct. 2020
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The pomegranate’s jewel-like seeds, delicious tart-sweet taste and powerful healing properties have made them a coveted fruit for centuries. Previous generations believed pomegranate could aid in everything from curing illness to increasing fertility. If these claims don’t have much scientific backing, plenty of research has proven pomegranate is an incredibly healthful, nutrient-packed food. 

Pomegranates…

  • ...can help with digestive problems. After a large meal, try drinking pomegranate juice or nibbling on some pomegranate seeds. The acids contained in pomegranate naturally supports digestion.
  • ...help keep you young and fit. The pomegranate is packed with nutrients that protect our body cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Studies have shown that the flavonoids and tannins in pomegranate act as a natural anti-aging agent, and can help lower blood pressure and prevent inflammation.
  • ...can increase your libido. Freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice is said to be a natural libido for both men and women.
  • ...might help prevent cancer. Prostate cancer researchers found that pomegranate juice can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and might be helpful in combating other types of cancers as well.
  • ...produce delicious, easily-squeezed juice. Simply cut the pomegranate in two, and juice with a citrus juicer.
  • ...are low in calories. Pomegranate seeds are relatively low in calories and virtually fat free.
  • ...are great for your health. If not a particularly rich source of vitamins, the pomegranate’s high antioxidant count makes them an ideal ingredient to help combat the flu, colds and stomach aches.
  • ...aren't easy to peel. There are two methods to extract the delicious pomegranate seeds from its hard outer skin; either cut the pomegranate in half crosswise and tap it with the back of a knife so that the seeds fall onto a plate, cut the pomegranate into several smaller segments, like you would an orange, peel the skin off and remove the flesh from the seeds.

What You Should Know About Pomegranates

Thousands of years ago, the pomegranate maintained an almost cult-like status in many cultures. Its beautiful, sparkling seeds held a special place in many religions dating back to ancient times. Pomegranates are even mentioned in the Bible, and pagan cults revered the fruit as divine.

Origins

The pomegranate originates from Iran, where it has been harvested for more than two centuries. The fruits grow on a shrub-like tree, and today are cultivated in countries with tropical and subtropical climates around the world.

Seasonality

Pomegranates are in season from September until early February.

Flavor

Pomegranate seeds are incredibly juicy, with a sweet and refreshingly tart flavor. 

Find all our pomegranate recipes here.

How Healthy Are Pomegranates?

Nutrition experts often laud pomegranates for their healthful qualities. Contemporary researchers have found out that the pulp and juice of the pomegranate have been considered healthful since ancient times for good reason - they are remarkably well rich polyphenols (a type of micronutrient) especially flavonoids and tannins. It is now known that these so-called bioactive substances have antioxidant properties. These substances protect the body’s cells from harmful influences, can slow down the aging process and have anti-inflammatory effects. Some nutritionists therefore believe that pomegranate juice can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, lower blood pressure and aid against arthritis. 

Pomegranate Nutritional Info (100 g)  
Calories 74
Protein 0.7 g
Fat 0.6 g
Carbohydrates 16.7 g
Fiber 2.2 g


Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

Once pomegranates are for sale in the market you can assume there is ripe fruit flesh under the thick skin, as once a pomegranate is picked it stops ripening.  Pomegranates are usually sold at unit price - the bigger and more beautiful the pomegranate, the more expensive it is. However, there is no difference in quality or taste between the sizes.

Storage

Pomegranates stay fresh at room temperature for about 2-3 weeks. Keep them in the refrigerator or in a cool room with high humidity and they can keep for several months.

Preparation

If you only want pomegranate juice, you can easily cut a pomegranate in half with a heavy knife and squeeze it as you would a citrus, like an orange, with a citrus juicer. However if you want to consume the equally tasty seeds, a little more effort is required. Cut the pomegranate in half, hold one piece over a bowl and break it apart with a little pressure, causing most of the fruit seeds to fall out. Remove bitter light-coloured skins, and repeat with the other half. 

Tip: To avoid pomegranate juice stains, which are difficult to get out of clothes, hold the pomegranate in a bowl of water while removing the seeds, then strain contents of the bowl through a sieve.

What To Make With Pomegranates

Pomegranate seeds are as delicious as they are beautiful, and can imbue both sweet and savory dishes with a unique, aromatic taste. The fruit’s combination of acidity and subtle sweetness harmonizes perfectly with Middle Eastern dishes such as Turkish lamb pizza, Moroccan spinach salad or Algerian tuna fillet. 

Pomegranate seeds are also a great addition to desserts, making fruit salads and cakes real eye-catchers. 

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