Pomegranates: From Ancient Times to Today’s Table

The pomegranate has joined the growing list of modern super foods. Like other contenders for the title, they provide innumerable health benefits.

Early Bronze Age excavations in 3500-2000 BC suggest that the pomegranate was one of the first fruits ever to be cultivated by man. Later, pharaohs specifically requested the placement of pomegranates in their tombs when they died. Equating the deep red juice of the pomegranate with life blood, they counted on these amazing fruits to grant them life after death.  It seems that if these pharaohs had only taken advantage of the pomegranate’s endless health benefits while they were alive, they might have been able to score a few more good years in the Egyptian sun.

Despite this impressive lineage, the pomegranate has only recently become a semi-regular guest in North American grocery baskets. Its tough leathery covering has a reputation for being hard to open.  However, aside from the beauty of the ornamental exterior, the rewards offered by the succulent red arils (seeds) inside, are well worth the challenge. Here are just a few of the many attributes of this ancient fruit:

  • Pomegranates are filled with antioxidants and free radical fighting polyphenols. They are the first line of defense against cellular damage.
  • Pomegranates contain approximately 30% of our daily Vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C helps promote hair, skin, and nail health.
  • The Vitamin B5 contained in pomegranates helps the body to metabolize protein, carbs, and fats. In other words, it turns food into fuel.
  • Pomegranates are an excellent source of dietary fibre, folate, and Vitamin K. Studies suggest that Vitamin K can help prevent certain cancers. Fibre is essential for normal body functioning. Folate helps in the production of DNA.

Among numerous other studies are those that suggest that pomegranates have anti-inflammatory properties and act to deter UV damage. Still others say that consuming pomegranates helps to control cholesterol levels. The list of potential benefits goes on and on.

If everything has a season, pomegranates are no different. While they do grow year round in various hot regions throughout the world, they are more plentiful in northern retail outlets from September to February.

When selecting a pomegranate for the first time, choose one that is heavy, round, and firm. Unlike humans, a little bulk is a desirable thing. The heavier it is, the juicier it will be.

It’s a beautiful fruit, and it may be tempting to just admire it on your kitchen counter. But don’t do it. Jazz up a salad with a garnish of pomegranate seeds and start benefitting from all that the fruit has to offer.

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