If you're tired of seeing the word "superfood" plastered on every magazine or website with readership primarily soccer moms and senior citizens, you're not alone. But despite how trendy the word has become, there's no doubt that it indeed does justice to the "super" benefits these fruits and vegetables have to offer. In return, we're breaking down the historical use and beneficial health properties of these nosh-worthy nutrient dense foods. Because kale deserves a little bit more complexity than just being cool. Stay tuned and see you each Sunday!
Pomegranates first started growing in Persia, which is Iran now, and there’s fossilized and written evidence of the existence of pomegranates as far back as 3000 BCE! That makes them one of the oldest fruits ever. They grow all over the world in dry places, and some cultivars are even used for bonsai trees.
The origin of our English word pomegranate comes from medieval Latin’s pōmum grānātum, or “seeded apple.” Linguistic fun fact: the Old French word for pomegranate was pomme-grenade. Why’s that relevant? Because the French invented grenades and named them after this god forsaken fruit due to the shape and exploding nature. It all makes sense now, right? Oh another fun fact, in medieval times pomegranates were used as a contraceptive. The rind was used as a pessary, or vaginal suppository (please note that that is a really terrible idea and you should probably just stick to Trojans). Before this superfood became all the rage for its health benefits, historically pomegranates have been a symbol of fertility, marriage, abundance, as well as righteousness. Bloom Disclaimer: we promise none of these things upon consumption, but trust you will enjoy the sweetly tart and refreshingly crisp fruit with the potential of these magical benefits.
The tree/fruit can be divided into several anatomical compartments: (1) seed, (2) juice, (3) peel, (4) leaf, (5) flower, (6) bark, and (7) roots, each of which has interesting pharmacologic activity. The edible part of the pomegranate fruit (50%) consists of 40% arils and 10% seeds. Arils contain 85% water, 10% total sugars, mainly fructose and glucose, and 1.5% pectin, organic acids such as ascorbic acid, citric acid, and malic acid, and bioactive compounds with anti-microbial effects.
Pomegranates also contain many vitamins and nutrients necessary for the body to function properly and stay healthy in the long run. One medium-sized fruit contains:
- 100 calories
- 1g of dietary fiber, equal to 4 percent of the recommended daily value
- 4 percent recommended dosage of vitamin A
- 15 percent daily value of vitamin C
- 2 percent daily value of iron
- other vitamins: K, B5, B6, & Potassium
Not only does the fruit contain vitamins that are important to daily bodily functions, it has three times as many antioxidants as red wine and green tea. In fact, pomegranates contain the most antioxidants and flavanoid components of any natural food. The antioxidants known as punicalagins and anthocyanins are the largest and most bioactive.
The potential therapeutic properties of pomegranate are wide-ranging and include: treatment and prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dental conditions, erectile dysfunction, and protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Other potential applications include infant brain ischemia, Alzheimer’s disease, male infertility, arthritis, and obesity.
Try to eat: 4 to 8 ounces of 100 percent pomegranate juice multiple times a week of any amount of seeds. As little as ¼ cup of pomegranate juice daily may improve cardiovascular health by reducing oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Pomegranates are in season in the Northern Hemisphere from late summer to winter, about September to February. In the Southern Hemisphere, they’re in season from March to May. Most food markets should have them when they’re in season. Mix them in with your oatmeal, garnish atop a salad or dessert, use in a spritzer, or eat them straight out of a jar. However you choose to enjoy pomegranates is great so long you're enjoying them!