By Simone Stromer, MD, CHC [AADP]
I was lucky enough to be in Israel recently and to visit a beautiful nature reserve where several of the 7 species were growing. The pomegranates with their unusual and exotic red bulb-like appearance caught my attention because they are truly magnificent looking. Next week, many of us will be eating this amazing fruit at our Rosh Hashanah tables; however, year-round in the United States, you can’t walk into a regular store without being confronted with bottles and containers in different shapes and sizes filled with various concoctions of pomegranate juice. Whilst it can be tempting to buy these products, especially on a hot day, you might as well hold off for the real deal—natural, in-season, and fresh pomegranates.
Because of its numerous health benefits, pomegranate juice is one of the most heart-healthy fruit juices. Pomegranate juice is an excellent source of vitamin C. In addition, pomegranate juice is rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant found in various other foods including blueberries, cranberries, and other fruits and vegetables. Some studies in humans have shown that pomegranate juice has significant antioxidant, antihypertensive, and anti-inflammatory effects. The role of oxidative stress and inflammation in human health and disease, and the protective effects of dietary antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds is the subject of ongoing research. In the meantime, including some pomegranate juice in your diet from time to time is highly recommended.
Remember that you can drink the juice or eat the seeds of pomegranates to benefit from its nutrients. Packed inside each pomegranate are hundreds of bright red seeds, which are juicy, sweet, tart, crunchy, and full of fiber. It is easy to split the hard fruit open, scoop out the red seeds and then use them as sprinkling on your vegetables, salads, soups, or meat dishes. My personal favorite way to enjoy the seeds is to add them to Greek yogurt with a dash of raw honey. How’s that for a power-packed New Year breakfast!