Fall marks the beginning of many wonderful things: cool weather, colorful foliage, trips to the pumpkin patch and savory, delicious autumn foods such as soups, stews and pies. Fall also marks the beginning of pomegranate season—my favorite time of year! Nutritious, delicious and fun to eat (I like to think of pomegranate seeds at the “bubble wrap” of the fruit world), this superfruit offers many health benefits.
Pomegranate seeds contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that can protect your heart, prevent cancner and even keep your teeth clean. Photo By Rozmarina/Courtesy Fotolia.
Heart Health: The antioxidants in pomegranates offer various forms of protection for your heart. Polyphenols, tannins and other antioxidants found in pomegranates reduce the buildup of plaque in artery walls, reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and disease. These antioxidants also lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL).
Cancer Prevention: In addition to antioxidants, which are well known for their ability to fight off cancer-causing free radicals, pomegranates also contain phytochemicals that can reduce the risk of breast cancer. Estrogen plays a major role in the development of breast cancer cells, but phytochemicals produce an acid that inhibits the body’s production of estrogen. Pomegranates have also been shown to help fight prostate and lung cancers
Arthritis Aid: In a 2005 study from the Cape Western Reserve University School of Medicine, researchers discovered that an enzyme found in pomegranates can slow the deterioration of cartilage that leads to osteoarthritis. Pomegranate’s anti-inflammatory properties are also useful for treating this condition after its onset.
Clean Teeth: Pomegranates don’t just fight the plague that builds up in your arteries; this superfruit also fights dental plaque. Pomegranate extract removes the plaque that causes the bacteria that leads to gum disease.
Aging Support: From warding off cancer to easing arthritis pain, pomegranates are useful for treating a number of ailments associated with aging. A 2006 study also found that polyphenols in pomegranates reduce buildup of brain plaque (proteins) that damages and disrupts brain communication and can eventually lead to the memory loss and cognitive decline that characterize Alzheimer’s disease.
To open a pomegranate, first cut off the pomegranate's crown, the top part of the fruit. Photo By sweetbeetandgreenbean/Courtesy Flickr.
How to Eat a Pomegranate
Pomegranates can be a challenging fruit to eat. Start by cutting off the crown or very top of the pomegranate. Then slice the skin or rind in several places around the pomegranate; don’t cut all the way through the fruit! Soak the pomegranate in a bowl of water for ten to fifteen minutes, then break apart the fruit in the bowl of water. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, but the rind will float to the top. Scoop the rind off the top of the water then strain the seeds.
Pomegranate seeds make a great salad garnish or ice cream topping; they can also be enjoyed on their own! Pomegranate juice is also a good way to enjoy the health benefits of pomegranates.