In honor of National Pomegranate Month (and my newfound love for pomegranates- thanks, Jessica!), I wanted to let you all know about the health benefits of eating pomegranates and share an easy way to devour this beautiful fruit, which can seem a bit tricky at first.
I tried my first pomegranate about a month ago- and now they are a staple in my shopping cart. I crave them instead of a cold drink as the tiny arils (red, juicy seeds) are just as cool and refreshing if you keep the pomegranate in the fridge (although this is not necessary). The arils are sweet, tangy, and filled with water- but beware because this means they can also get messy and squirt out at surprising lengths!
There are many health benefits that come from eating pomegranates since the arils are filled with polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) as well as vitamins C, A, E and K. The antioxidants help reduce the negative impact of free radicals on the body and repair cells that have already been damaged. Pomegranates also contain fiber and actually more potassium than most oranges. Iron and calcium are also present in this fruit as well as the nutrient folic acid.
Clinical research has shown that pomegranates may help prevent strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease when combined with a healthy diet. The reason for this is that pomegranates are able to promote blood flow to the heart, thin the blood, and reduce blood pressure and plaque in arteries. In addition, research shows that pomegranates might be helpful in treatments for skin cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, and osteoarthritis.
There are a few ways to eat pomegranates- you can peel, pull out the arils, and slowly munch on them (this is good for watching a movie, etc). You can also cut and loosen the seeds to get them all out at once (demonstrated below), or juice the pomegranate (which yields about 1/3 cup juice).
I found a great flier at my local grocery store from POM Wonderful with detailed instructions on how to get all of the seeds out easily. You start by cutting off the top of the pomegranate at about 1/2″ below the crown to reveal four to six sections of arils. Next, cut downwards through each section of the skin separating the arils. This will help you in the next step which is pulling each section apart.
Once you have separated the sections of the pomegranate, loosen the arils with your fingers and drop them into a bowl of water. The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl while the white membrane pieces will float. Use a spoon to scoop up the big pieces of membrane and discard them. Then drain the arils and rinse them if necessary. Now you can easily eat the arils or add them to a salad, yogurt, or other favorite dish.
If you wish to juice the pomegranate instead of eating the arils, you have a couple of options. You can cut the fruit in half and squeeze it on a basic juicer or you can cut the end with the crown and place it over a glass to allow the juice to drain out. Squeezing the fruit will help in this process. Lastly, you can roll the pomegranate over a hard surface to keep the skin intact but break the juice from the arils. Then make a small hole, stick a straw in, and drink!
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