Interestingly, some Biblical scholars think that a pomegranate must have been the “apple” in the Garden of Eden.
Pomegranate arils are a great source of vitamin C, K, folate, fiber, and potassium.
- Vitamin C supports healthy immune function.
- Vitamin K plays a role in bone health and the necessary blood coagulation systems.
- Folate is essential to proper DNA synthesis and prevention of gene mutations.
- Potassium concentrations are tightly controlled in the body to keep normal heart and muscle function.
- Fiber is key to keeping your gut healthy and able to absorb all the nutrients you eat.
The pomegranate seeds themselves also contain healthy unsaturated fats, which are needed for many important bodily functions, including being structurally vital to much of your body’s make-up.
Though pomegranate juice is popular and widely available, it is important to include the whole fruit in your diet as well. Pomegranate juice does not provide fiber or healthy fats, and common pasteurization techniques may cause nutrient losses. Therefore, we do not recommend consuming pomegranate juice.
Pomegranates also contain the phytochemical, ellagic acid, which has been suggested in recent research to possess cancer-fighting properties. Though these effects have been shown in cell studies and cannot be applied to humans, so far, they are most directly linked to inhibitory effects on cancer cell proliferation and increased death of cancer cells.
These in-lab studies note that ellagic acid could play a future role in slowing tumor growth and increasing tumor sensitivity to radiation and chemotherapy. However, much more research must be done before these preliminary findings could be applicable to humans. It is exciting to note the emerging research being done on the potential anti-cancer properties of plants, as it reminds us of the importance of including a variety of phytonutrient-rich plant foods in our diet to provide the best protection against cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Pomegranates can be mystifying to eat, but don’t let that scare you away; a handful of delectable red arils are well worth a little work. Use a knife to cut a pomegranate from stem to end, then break the pomegranate open. It will fall into its natural sections to expose the seeds and their juicy arils ready to be scooped out from the surrounding bitter white pith and eaten.
Fresh pomegranates should feel heavy for their size and have healthy, unblemished coppery red skins. Whole pomegranates will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. Some grocery stores sell containers of pomegranate arils for convenience but need to be eaten within a few days of purchasing to retain their nutritional benefits.
Pomegranates are a unique combination of sweet and tart and can be used in many different ways. The arils are a great addition to simple grain bowls, a refreshing drink, or make your own pomegranate molasses to sweeten Mediterranean-inspired dishes.