Pomegranate with its scientific name Punica granatum is also known as rimmon . It was originally found in regions stretching from Iran to the Himalayas in the north of India and since long back has been cultivated in places across Mediterranean region, Asia, Africa and Europe. This is now cultivated in mild- temperateto sub-tropical and tropical regions. Pomegranate tree looks attractive with evergreen leaves, showy red or white flowers, and rich red fruits. The inside of the fruit contains numerous ruby-like arils. Pomegranate comes in seeded and ‘seedless’ varieties, with the difference that seedless have relatively soft seeds.
Why is Pomegranate unique?
Pomegranate contains plenty of antioxidants and they are more powerful than those contained in other known sources like green tea or red wine and blueberry juice . Pomegranate is rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Folate and Potassium are also abundant in the fruit. Pomegranate is also one of the best sources of dietary fiber.
There are hundreds of varieties of Pomegranate and some of these can be easily grown at home too. Even though the arils are commonly eaten, the whole fruit can be used including the peel. The idea is to introduce to the reader why this particular thing is unique.
Ayurveda on pomegranate
Ayurveda considers not only the fruit but whole pomegranate plant as a medicinal source. It advices using bark (stomach and intestine disorders), unripe fruit (for digestion), flower (nasal bleeding) and root (destroying worms in body) for various health benefits apart from its fruit.
Pomegranate Health benefits
The pomegranate is an extremely attractive and delicious fruit which is greatly beneficial for overall health of the body. Pomegranate is a very popular snack since it is a refreshing fruit very low in saturated fat and Cholesterol.
Benefits to heart: Pomegranates are good for the health of heart owing to the antioxidants present in it. These antioxidants also minimize the damage caused by free radicals on cells. Long term consumption of the fruit prevents hardening of arteries. It lowers bad cholesterol LDL and raises good cholesterol HDL. In a study, heart function was improved and exercise stress test scores showed improved heart performance as a result of daily intake of pomegranate juice for three months. Drinking pomegranate juice can help lower blood pressure .
Pomegranate Health benefits against cancer: Pomegranate seed consumption may help prevent many kinds of cancer because of the effect of a polyphenol contained called ellagic acid. High level of another component punicic acid also helps fight against cancer. Seed-based juice helps inhibit prostate and colon cancer. According to studies, ellagitannin-rich pomegranate extract can help in inhibiting the growth of prostate cancer.
Fermented juice, seed oil and pericarp extract from pomegranate cause self-destruction and prevention of metastatic cancer cells in breast cancer without affecting healthy cells.
Lung cancer was also seen to be inhibited in a study conducted on mice.
Pomegranate Health benefits for Stomach disorder: In ayurveda, pomegranate has been considered to be a great in stomach disorders especially diarrhea, bleeding diarrhea, intestine and stomach worms. Its juice is found useful in dysentery and cholera.
Benefits in obesity: Studies have indicated that pomegranate leaves extract has good potential to help in controling obesity caused to high fat diet.
Benefits from the estrogen content: Pomegranate can provide estrogen required for postmenopausal women to protect against heart disease and osteoporosis. Reports also show relief from hot flashes during the period when juice or seeds of the fruit are taken.
Benefits to skin: Consumption of pomegranate can help prevent sunburn. Pomegranate seed oil is added in cosmetics to add moisture, revitalize dull skin, resist wrinkles, soothe minor irritations, and improve elasticity of skin. It also provides relief from eczema and psoriasis. Pomegranate contains conjugated fatty acids which impart anti-inflammatory benefits.
Benefits to brain: Pomegranate helps in improving memory and may help delay dementia and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Pomegranate juice when consumed maternally can protect neonatal brain from damage in cases of injury.
Antiviral benefits: Pomegranate juice has antiviral effects that can be helpful as HIV preventive.
Benefit to teeth: As a natural method of prevention of dental plaque, pomegranate juice can be consumed regularly.
Benefits in diabetes: Even though pomegranate juice has a significant concentration of sugar, it has been shown that this doesn’t alter blood sugar level like other harmful sugars. On the other hand, in this fruit, sugars are attached with antioxidants and hence proved protective against atherosclerosis.
- Pomegranate juice has been acknowledged from time immemorial as a fertility booster. It helps in increasing immunity and reducing symptoms in diseases like arthritis.
- Organic pomegranate seeds can act like aspirin on blood platelets and prevent dangerous clots.
- Pomegranate is also believed to be effective against influenza like symptoms and common cold.
- The fruit is also known to have gastro-intestinal benefits. It is supposed to have anti-bacterial properties as well.
- It can treat headaches associated with hangover. In dialysis patients, pomegranate helps reduce the illnesses and improve overall health condition.
- Wild pomegranate contains citric acid and sodium citrate that is used in pharmaceutical purposes. Pomegranate juice can treat dyspepsia and is even considered helpful in leprosy.
- The bark of this tree fights intestinal parasites.
- Ongoing research studies the effects of pomegranate on several diseases like lymphoma, rhinovirus infection, oxidative stress in hemodialysis etc.
Usage, selection and storage
Apart from Pomegranate amazing Health benefits, it is also an extremely tasty fruit when eaten raw. To separate the arils inside the fruit, pomegranate is usually scored through the rind and then opened by breaking it preferably under water as the edible arils then easily settle underwater. The fruit can also be cut through, then scored over rind, tapped over holding above a bowl of water and the arils separated. In this method, the deep seated arils will have to be removed by hand. These arils are eaten as such without removing the seeds contained inside them. Pomegranate peel contains maximum antioxidants and they are released when the fruit is squeezed for juicing. Hence pomegranate in juice form is also very beneficial.
Best way to cut through a pomegranate
Dried pomegranate arils and packaged pomegranate juice are also found in markets.
In order to identify a fresh pomegranate, confirm that the color is good and the fruit is smooth on the outside. Avoid the ones with bruises or cuts.
Whole fruit without damage can stay outside up to a month if stored away from sunlight. If already seeded, the arils should be kept frozen inside the refrigerator in order to keep them fresh for a longer time.
Precautions while using pomegranate
Pomegranate can interfere with certain drugs and hence people on medications might need to consult a doctor before eating them . When using the bark, overdose can cause sight dimness, muscular weakness and paralysis .
Pomegranate Health benefits are numerous and many of them have been accepted by medical science. Pomegranate is a fruit that is as delicious as it is attractive. The crunchy arils can be a better substitute to any snack. Its nutritional contents ensure that you stay healthy and you have excellent disease fighting abilities as you age.