The Antioxidant Power of Pomegranates

By EatingWell Editors, "Winter Jewels," November/December 2010

Health benefits of this potent winter fruit.

6 Facts About Pomegranates

1. Pomegranates originated in Persia and were brought to California by the Spaniards. Now they flourish there and can even be found growing wild by the roadside. To find the ripest fruit, judge a pomegranate by its weight, not its color. The heavier ones contain more juice.

2. With anywhere from 600 to more than 1,000 arils, or seeds, to a fruit, the pomegranate (from the Latin  for “seeded apple”) has long been a symbol for fertility. But does it hold promise for men with erectile dysfunction, as POM has claimed? Science has yet to back this up. However, the theory is that antioxidants in the fruit improve blood flow by reducing plaque in the arteries and increasing nitric oxide, which signals arteries to relax and expand.

3. The antioxidants in a daily cup of pomegranate juice might help to keep free radicals from oxidizing “bad” LDL cholesterol, suggested a preliminary study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Oxidized LDL contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries.

4. A randomized clinical trial of 45 people, published in 2005 in The American Journal of Cardiology, showed that drinking pomegranate juice might improve blood flow to the heart in people with myocardial ischemia, a serious condition in which the heart’s oxygen supply is compromised because the arteries leading to it are blocked.

5. Pomegranate juice does have more antioxidants than other fruit juices. It is made by pressing the whole fruit—a good thing, as most of the antioxidants in a pomegranate are concentrated in the peel, the membranes and the white pith.

6. To seed a pomegranate, fill a large bowl with water. (Working in a bowl of water will help you avoid being stained by pomegranate juice.) Lightly score the fruit into quarters from crown to stem end, cutting through the skin but not into the interior of the fruit. Hold the fruit under water, break it apart and use your hands to gently separate the plump seeds (arils) from the outer skin and white pith. The seeds will drop to the bottom of the bowl and the pith will float to the surface. Discard the pith. Pour the seeds into a colander. Rinse and pat dry. Seeds can be frozen for up to 3 months.

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