The pomegranate is an ancient fruit that has been cultivated for more than a thousand years in the eastern Mediterranean region and lands extending as far east as India.
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Today, this delicious fruit is grown in many regions throughout the world including U.S. states like California and various countries of Latin America.
Pomegranates have been celebrated for their delicious taste and culinary uses; however, they are also loaded with many healthful properties that make incorporating them into your diet a great choice.
An important fruit for alternative medicine practitioners, pomegranates have long been revered for their medicinal properties in countries like Japan, Russia, Iran, India, and China.
A Culturally Rich Fruit
The pomegranate has figured in various myths and legends associated with the ancient world. Most children learn about Persephone’s tasting of the pomegranate in the ancient Greek myth that explains the changing of the seasons.
Homeric hymns mention the fruit and many Christian and Jewish scholars believe the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate. Scholars believe the fruit may also have traveled to the Far East along the ancient Silk Road or possibly over sea routes to Asia’s many seaports.
The Spanish named the city of Granada after the fruit and Mexico features pomegranate in one of its national dishes, chiles en nogada.
A Celebration Of Taste
While many simply enjoy pomegranates as they are and scoop the fruit’s red arils on a dish to eat plain or to adorn a culinary meal, they are also used for juice and to complement a wide array of meals. The juice of the pomegranate is used to make grenadine which sweetens a myriad of drinks. Various culinary traditions employ pomegranates to make sauce, dressings, or syrups.
Greece, Iran, Turkey, and India are particularly well known for their use of pomegranates in cooking. From marinating meats to adorning salads, pomegranate adds its telltale flavor to dishes all over the world. Others find that a bit of pomegranate juice is an excellent base for a memorable cocktail.
Pomegranates Are Good—For Your Body!
Taste aside, pomegranates are an excellent source of antioxidants that can help protect the body from many diseases. In terms of nutrition, pomegranates are sources of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
Recently, pomegranates have been involved in various clinical trials because they have been suspected of helping to combat colon cancer, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and diabetes. Moreover, the punicalagins of pomegranates are known to help control overgrowth of Candida which leads to yeast infections like athlete’s foot.
Some of the exciting news associated with pomegranates is their ability to diminish risk factors leading to heart disease. Studies suggest that it can reduce systolic blood pressure and reduce LDL oxidation.
A recent UK study suggests that a chemical compound found in pomegranates can slow degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Scientists have been excited about pomegranate’s ability to reduce inflammation in areas like the brain. It’s unclear if pomegranate’s can offer any protection against other neurodegenerative diseases, but research into the question continues.
Pomegranates And Alternative Medicine
As an ancient fruit, it’s not surprising that pomegranates have been used to treat various ills for centuries. Ayurvedic tradition holds that pomegranate may slow cataract growth, treat hemorrhoids, tone skin, sore throats, and even stop nosebleeds.
Other folk medicine practitioners have maintained that pomegranate may ease arthritis swelling and remove plaque from teeth.
According to the renowned University of Maryland Medical Center, “The bark, fruit, root, and rind of the pomegranate tree are used as medicine in Asia and the Middle East, but in the West the fruit and its juice are usually the parts being studied. The juice and rind have antioxidant properties, while the juice, rind, and oil from seeds contain isoflavones similar to the ones in soy.”
Increasingly more medical research is being done to determine how else pomegranate may be employed to support optimum health.
Adding Pomegranates To Your Diet
As a delicious fruit, it’s easy to incorporate it into one’s diet as a raw food or, perhaps, as a juice. Drinking 8-12 ounces of pomegranate juice a day is typically considered safe, but always check with your healthcare provider to make sure one herb doesn’t interact negatively with another.
People suffering from diabetes, for instance, must check with a healthcare provider before incorporating fruit juice into their diet. To support a nutritious diet, pomegranates are an excellent fruit choice and their potential health benefits enrich them further.
If you haven’t included pomegranate in your diet, be sure to buy a few the next time you visit the grocery store and see for yourself just what the centuries of celebration for this fruit are all about.