The Pow! of Pomegranates
By Chelsea Fisher
The French word for pomegranate is “grenade.” And when it comes to cancer-fighting food, pomegranates really are “the bomb.”
According to the American Cancer Society, ellagic acid, a phytochemical found in pomegranates, may have some anti-cancer effects. In animal and lab studies ellagic acid has been found to slow the growth of certain tumors caused by carcinogens, including those of the skin, throat, and lungs. The acid may even slow the effects of estrogen on breast cancer cell growth. A recent study on men with prostate cancer found that it appeared to reduce some of the negative side effects of chemotherapy.
Pomegranates – which some Biblical scholars think must have been the “apple” in the Garden of Eden — are full of tiny seeds surrounded by a ruby red aril, the sweet, crunchy and juicy flesh that makes these fruits so desirable. Pomegranate arils are a great source of vitamin C, K, folate, fiber, and potassium. The seeds themselves also contain healthy unsaturated fats. Though pomegranate juice is popular and widely available, it’s important to include the whole fruit in your diet as well. Pomegranate juice does not provide fiber or healthy fats, and the pasteurization process effects vitamin C content.
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, and 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 boxes of pomegranate arils for convenience, but eat them within three days of purchase.
Pomegranates are a unique combination of sweet and tart, and can be used in many different ways. The arils are a great topper for all kinds of salads, providing a sweet crunch and a sprinkle of alluring color. Try scattering them over pears and mixed greens tossed in a light citrus based dressing, along with some crumbled feta and some toasted walnuts. Use them instead of cranberries to bring color and crunch to our Colorful Quinoa Salad. Or toss them with cucumber and mint for a pretty and refreshing summer mix.
Pomegranate molasses can be added to flavor salad dressings or even drinks. For sparkling water that can awaken taste buds compromised by chemo, try our Pomegranate Water recipe.