Artifacts dating back to the early Bronze Age indicate that the pomegranate was one of the first fruits cultivated by humankind. As early as 1600 BC, ancient Egyptians began using the pomegranate for medicinal purposes. This lucious, ruby-red fruit has been revered across many cultures for centuries. Today, pomegranates remain popular for their rich, sweet flavor and remarkable curative powers. Pomegranate benefits—wide-ranging and highly impressive—can be attributed primarily to the high concentration of antioxidants the fruit contains. How to eat a pomegranate is a matter of personal preference…you can juice it or seed it, but either way, you’ll enjoy it!
The Broad Spectrum of Pomegranate Benefits
Historically, pomegranate fruit has been used to treat conditions ranging from sore throats, coughs, and urinary infections to arthritis, skin irritation, and digestive disorders. Now, according to an article published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, contemporary scientific analysis suggests that antioxidant compounds found in the fruit could be used to treat serious diseases, too, such as prostate cancer, skin cancer, arthritis, and diabetes.
That same article also discusses studies showing that pomegranate seeds can cleanse fats from the digestive system and may be able to help prevent heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. It appears, according to the Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry article, that compounds found in pomegranate juice can be used to thin the blood, increase blood flow to the heart, reduce blood pressure and plaque in the arteries, and decrease bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol.
Wonderful, Wonderful Antioxidants
The specific antioxidants responsible for those wonderful pom juice benefits are two types of polyphenols: ellagitannins (ET) and ellagic acid (EA). Research published in Nutrients shows that fruits rich in ETs have incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammation, the body’s response to injury and infection, can lead to problems when it continues for long periods of time unchecked. Chronic inflammation of this kind can cause, or worsen, many conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, psoriasis, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.
The Nutrients article discusses a number of studies on the health benefits of pomegranate juice. A lot of the research to date has concentrated on prostate cancer, diabetes, and atherosclerosis (the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls, which can block blood flow). Human clinical trials also support the beneficial effect of pomegranate juice on general heart health. And animal studies have shown promising results when it comes to using pomegranate to treat high cholesterol, IBD, respiratory diseases like asthma, RA, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Pomegranates as Vitamins—A Delicious Way to Supplement
While research continues on exactly how pomegranate can treat specific health conditions, there’s no question at all that the nutrients the fruit contains can boost your overall wellness.
A single pomegranate offers you 1/4 of your daily supply of folate, a B vitamin necessary for synthesizing and repairing your DNA, and 1/3 your daily supply of vitamin C!
For an extra-tasty way to incorporate pomegranate into your diet, try our Pomegranate Smoothie, which also features blueberries, Greek yogurt, and vanilla almond milk.
Which Pomegranate Varieties Are Best?
There are hundreds of different pomegranate varieties out there, which only makes sense considering how long humans have been planting pomegranate trees. The fruits range from mild in taste to potently tart or overwhelmingly sweet, and the skins of different varieties of pomegranate fruits span from golden-pink to dark burgundy. As for which of the many, many options is best, the answer differs based on what you’re looking for!
Here’s an overview of some of the varieties that are most popular right now:
- Wonderful: by far the most famous variety in the United States, these large fruits have magenta skin and a highly pleasant tangy flavor.
- Sirenevyi: a big fruit with pink skin, deep purple seeds, and a sweet flavor that reminds some people of watermelon. One of the absolute most popular types.
- Parfianka: this extra juicy fruit tastes a bit like wine and has bright red skin with pink seeds.
- Desertnyi: this variety tastes sweet and tart with light citrus notes.
- Angel Red: a great choice for juicing, this fruit has a vibrant red rind and seeds.
- Sin Pepe: also known as Pink Ice and Pink Satin, this variety has light pink seeds and a powerfully sweet flavor.
- Gissarskii Rozovyi: a fruit with a slightly tart taste and light pink skin and seeds.
- Kashmir Blend: a good option to use for cooking, especially in savory dishes. The red rind has a chartreuse tint, and the red seeds can sometimes be quite sour in flavor.
- Francis: a variety that originated in Jamaica and is both large and sweet.
- Granada: this medium-sized variety with dark red skin ranges in flavor from mild sweetness to puckering tartness.
How to Eat a Pomegranate
So, how do you eat a pomegranate? Let’s start with the simplest method: Eating pomegranate seeds!
- Cut the pomegranate in half.
- Scoop out the seeds.
- Spoon the seeds into a bowl.
- Eat the seeds whole! Jazz up a cup of Greek yogurt with these red jewels!
For more detailed instructions on how to eat a pomegranate, visit Tori Avey’s food blog here. She makes it easy.