It's that season again- Pomegranate season
- Created on Sunday, 10 October 2010 12:24
Many people spend lavishly on superfruits, such as acai, mangosteen, and goji berry. And since some of these fruits are sold by multi-level marketing companies, it gets even more expensive. But, there is one superfruit you can buy at your local supermarket this time of year, and that is: pomegranate. Pomegranate is as worthy of the title superfruit as any fruit you can name. Not only is pomegranate exceedingly high in antioxidants, it has some very unique antioxidants, polyphenols known as punicalagins which are found nowhere else. And like blueberries, pomegranate is very high in anthocyanins. In mice, pomegranate not only prevented atherosclerosis but was able to reverse it. This was reported by the National Academy of Sciences. Pomegranate was also found to restore endothelial function, lower blood pressure, and prevent LDL oxidation. There is also strong evidence that pomegranate fights cancer, particularly colon, breast, and lung cancer, and especially prostate cancer.
Now, there is new evidence showing that pomegranate also aids in the battle against fat. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have found that pomegranate juice significantly lowered the level of non-esterified fatty acids in the blood- which is the kind of fat that is linked to storage of fat around the abdomen- the most dangerous place to store fat. These subjects lost an average of 8 pounds in 6 weeks while drinking pomegranate juice. It involved drinking a 500 ml bottle of pomegranate juice a day, and that was the only intervention.
Another new study from Israel found that pomegranate increased the total antioxidant status of the blood by 130%, while serum lipid peroxidation was reduced by 79%. These are extraordinary numbers, and there can be no doubt that pomegranate is truly a superfruit.
Now that it's fall, pomegranates are once again in season, and it lasts until about New Year's. Unfortunately, pomegranates aren't cheap. I have only seen them sold by the unit, not by the pound, and typically, a large pomegranate costs about $3. Occasionally, you will see them on sale for $2. That may seem like a high price, but it's a lot cheaper than pomegranate supplements. And needless to say, it's a lot more fun to eat or drink something than to swallow a pill.
As to how to eat them, you have several options, but first note that it is the red pulp around the seeds that you want to extract. The seeds themselves are gritty, much like grape seeds. It's almost impossible to separate the seeds from the pulp, so many people just chew it all up, extracting the juice and the pulp, and then spitting out the seed residue. You probably won't want to swallow them. Moreover, the skin, membrane, and pithy portions of the pomegrantate are all quite bitter. In fact, if you decide to juice your pomegranate through a machine, as many people do, you will want to diligently remove those portions first because otherwise, they will make the juice rather bitter, and it may even pucker your mouth. However, when you make it correctly, pomegranate juice is very delicious- sweet, tangy, and intensely fruity. It also has an evolving taste that goes through phases, culminating in a great finish. It's a unique gustatory experience, much like savoring a fine wine. (I don't drink wine, but you know what I mean.) Pomegranate juice can also be combined with other juices such as orange, pineapple, or apple, especially if you have to stretch a small quantity.
You can also find ready-made, commercially-prepared pomegranate juice, usually sold as a concentrate. Just Google it. I just ordered some for the first time this year, and I have been very pleased with it. My favorite way to use it is as a base for smoothies that I make with bananas and tofu. A pomegranate, banana, and tofu shake cannot be beat.
Another option is to try to grow your own pomegranates, and I am also trying to do that. Last fall, I planted a pomegranate tree (although it's more like a bush), and without protection, it survived a very cold winter that got down to 12 degrees F! And it did very well in its first growing season, clearly getting well established in the ground and at least doubling in size. It was surprising because the soil here in Central Texas is very rocky and highly alkaline, and most fruit trees take a long time to get established. So, I am very pleased with the obvious vigor of this pomegranate tree- another sign that it is truly a superfruit.