Pomegranates…they are beautiful, delicious and one of the world’s healthiest fruits. Ever since I was a little kid, I loved pomegranates. I would sit at our counter with a bib made from a kitchen towel draped over me and couldn’t wait to dig in. My dad would always cut my pomegranate into quarters for me so I could get to the shiny red jewel-like seeds and juicy nectar inside easily. Pulling apart the white pith from the ruby red seeds always thrilled me-weird I know, but true! I really could never get enough of those ruby seeds when they were in season. It was everything….the taste, the vibrant color, the thrill of working hard to get those ruby seeds out of the pomegranate and succeeding. I didn’t ever give up until I got every single seed! I don’t think I even realized back then how healthy these super fruits were for me. I really have to hand it to my parents for introducing me to some amazing super-foods and fruits when I was SO young.
Categorized as a berry, the pomegranate fruit is anywhere from 2–5 inches in diameter. It is red, round and looks kind of like a red apple with a flower-shaped stem. The skin of the pomegranate is thick and inedible, but there are hundreds of edible seeds within. Each seed is surrounded by a red, juicy and sweet seed covering known as an aril. Pomegranate seeds get their vibrant red hue from polyphenols. These chemicals are amazingly powerful antioxidants. The seeds and arils are the edible parts of the fruit — eaten either raw or processed into pomegranate juice — but the peel is discarded.
Back when I was a kid devouring pomegranates, there was no such thing as store-bought pomegranate juice-you had to work hard for that juice. But today, pomegranate juice is readily available in most grocery stores and is among the healthiest juice you can buy! Some studies have suggested that pomegranate juice has antioxidant power even stronger than green tea and red wine—almost three times as much! The juice of a single pomegranate has more than 40% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C which is a major immune system booster as it’s a natural anti-viral.
Studies have shown that the juice of a pomegranate:
- May reduce inflammation in the gut and improve digestion—especially beneficial for people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it beneficial for those suffering from osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis and join inflammation.
- May be able to protect the heart as the juice can improve blood flow helping the arteries to be less thick and stiff. Also potentially improving cholesterol and lowing blood pressure.
The juice of the pomegranate clearly provides amazing health benefits but the seeds themselves also have an impressive nutritional profile. One cup of arils provides:
- Fiber: 7 grams
- Protein: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 30% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
- Folate: 16% of the RDI
- Potassium: 12% of the RDI
Pomegranates are clearly one of the healthiest foods on the planet. To reap all their health benefits you can go to work on the arils directly like I did as a kid or head to the store and easily pick up some freshly packaged pomegranate seeds or juice.
If you have small (or big!) kids at home that have never had a pomegranate before, I encourage you to introduce them to this super fruit—for their health or just for their fun! They might like digging in as much as I did as a child.
Today, I like to eat pomegranate seeds sprinkled in my salad or even in my yogurt. They are the perfect addition of texture and sweetness!
I’d like to end today by reminding you all that I’m not an MD. If you have any concerns about ingesting pomegranates I would consult your Dr. before doing so. I like to live a life of full of whole foods, moderation and always a little fun. Stay well! Xx Janine