Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food Worship #5: The Pomegranate

To be honest, it'd been forever since I've had a Pomegranate.  In fact I bet a lot of my readers have never tried one before in their life.  Actually, you might not even know what one looks like (that's OK, it's a pretty strange fruit, not a common buy.)  But last night, when visiting home, I found a big ol' red pomegranate just sitting there on the counter, inconspicuously.  Upon asking about it, my mom said I was welcome to slice it in half and have one of the pieces, as the other was to be saved for my sister (who saves food for months.  She still has Easter candy from two years ago.)  I immediately cut that sucker open and dug in.

The only really edible part of a Pomegranate are the seeds, which seems strange because usually we avoid those in most fruits.  The actual fleshy part of the fruit itself is quite bitter, and although I tried a couple bites, I definitely don't think I could've stomached the rest of it.  Pomegranates have both an interesting flavor and texture, both of which are very distinct.  The seeds are quite sweet, juicy, and slightly crunchy as well.  It's definitely a flavor I REALLY enjoy, and I'd suggest picking up a pomegranate from your local grocery store sometime in the near future and trying it out, as you might find you are very partial to it.

Interestingly enough, the humble pomegranate has had a rich history with all sorts of ancient civilizations.  It's believed that Eve (from the bible) actually picked a pomegranate from the Garden of Eden, not an apple like we've come to believe.  Ancient Egyptian mummies were often buried with pomegranates because it was believed they could offer immortality to the dead.  And in both ancient Greece and China, pomegranates are a symbol of good luck.  That's a lot of history for one fruit.

But what I've found most interesting with pomegranates are that for some reason, to me, they just feel healthy.  The taste is powerful enough to convince you that this big red bulbous fruit is definitely helping your body in some way or another.  And you'd be right to think that.  Pomegranates are one of the best fruits going in terms of nutrients and antioxidants.

Here's a few of their numerous bodily benefits:

Heart healthy:  The antioxidants in pomegranate seeds and it's juice have a plethora of uses in your body, such as preventing the oxidation of bad cholesterol and causing the hardening of arteries.  The juice can even help to clear already clogged arteries to a certain degree.  This will help to keep your blood flowing smoothly, allowing it to deliver more oxygen where it's needed, lowering your blood pressure, and putting less strain on your heart.

Fights Cancer:  There have been all sorts of studies done on pomegranate juice's effect on various types of cancer.  The juice supposedly kills breast cancer cells, can help prevent and slow the growth of prostate cancer (this was proven in an experiment involving mice), and may even help prevent certain types of lung cancer.  That's an impressive resume for a simple fruit, and all the more reason to get a little bit of pomegranate juice into your diet.

Pomegranate juice has been shown even to help prevent an already existent cancer from spreading cancer.  Here's a quote from an article regarding prostate cancer and pomegranate juice:

"The Martins-Green lab applied pomegranate juice on laboratory-cultured prostate cancer cells that were resistant to testosterone (the more resistant a cancer cell is to testosterone, the more prone it is to metastasizing).
The researchers -- Martins-Green, graduate student Lei Wang and undergraduate students Andre Alcon and Jeffrey Ho -- found that the pomegranate juice-treated tumor cells that had not died with the treatment showed increased cell adhesion (meaning fewer cells breaking away) and decreased cell migration."

I definitely suggest reading more of that article, as it shows some pretty extraordinary supporting evidence for the benefits of pomegranate.  Here's the link:

Vitamins/Other Nutrients:  Pomegranates, like other fruit, are a very rich vitamin source.  They tend to have an especially large amount of Vitamin C, an extremely important vitamin in the now full blown cold season.  Pomegranates also have large amounts of Beta Carotene, as well as Polyphenol, another assistant to decreasing bad cholesterol.

Fiber:  The seeds in pomegranates have a decent amount of fiber in them, which as you can tell by my previous articles I'm a HUGE fan of, because fiber has so many great benefits.  It can help control your weight, aid in healthy digestion, and help keep you satiated.  Just plain awesome.

Clearly, pomegranates are quite the health food.  They taste AMAZING in my opinion, and I would definitely recommend trying one out.  It'll only do your body good, and can be a great alternative to the boring old fruit bowl filled with apples and oranges day in and day out.  Get some variety in your diet, try a fruit you haven't before.  Make the pomegranate a new staple in your clean eating endeavors.

Oh, one more note, pomegranate juice stains any sort of fabric.  I found that out last night while cutting into the darn thing.  Make sure you're wearing an old shirt, or are well protected.

Try some variety, pick up a fruit with both an amazing history and a bright future.  Good luck!


A few reference sites:

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