Lately, you might have noticed the arrival of a new fruit and juice in your local supermarket. It is one that has been touted as the “new super food” packed with antioxidants, and loaded with other health benefits. With a strong bitter to sour taste, the pure juice is a bit hard to swallow at first, but after a while, becomes more tolerable if not preferable. The fruit itself is reddish and packed with hundred of tiny seeds that are a great sources of dietary fiber and antioxidants, provided you know how to get them out of the thick red skin that ensconces them.
This fruit is the pomegranate and despite the rumors that it was made in a laboratory by some mad fruit scientists, it has actually been cultivated and eaten by people for thousands of years. The pomegranate tree is native to ancient Persia and parts of the Himalayas, and was first cultivated in the Middle East in countries such as Iran, Armenia, and Georgia. Ancient Pomegranate groves have been discovered outside the walls of Bronze Age cities, and thanks to The Silk Road and the Moorish Empire, its cultivation and use has become widespread over the Mediterranean and Asia. It even made it to the New World, Spanish missionaries introducing it to California in the early 18th Century.
Yet, despite the Pom’s early popularity, it never really made it as a modern mainstream grocery store staple until it was rediscovered by the western world due the many health benefits that are attributed to it. Not only is the fruit a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B5, it is also packed with beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidants that help our bodies fight off cancer and disease caused by fungal, viral and bacterial agents.
Here are some things that modern research indicates that the pomengranate does for us:
- It fights breast, lung and prostate cancer
- Eases arthritis
- Helps prevent plaque buildup in the arteries
- Helps lower our bad (LDL)cholesterol while raising our good (HDL) cholesterol
- Helps keep dental plaque from forming
While most of the research on pomegranate (and phytochemicals in general) is still new, I can attest that drinking a bit of pomegranate juice everyday does make you feel and move better. While pomegranate juice and juice blends are available in your grocery store, trying fresh pomegranate juice is definitely worth the time and effort is takes to make it. Living on the west coast, fresh Pomegranates always seem to be available at my local farmers market, but they are also beginning to show up at local grocery stores near you. To make some fresh juice, simply cut the fruit in half and use a citrus juicer to extract the juice. Hand juicing is the best way, since the outer skin is tough and the seed will get all over the place if you try to use an electric juicer.