You may have seen bottles of pomegranate juice on your grocery store shelf. Pomegranate juice often costs more than other juices and is not as well known in the West. However, the delicious taste of this juice and its numerous health benefits make pomegranate juice definitely worth exploring.
About the Pomegranate
The pomegranate is a popular fruit in some Middle Eastern countries and is heavily grown in that region and in the Mediterranean. The health benefits and delicious taste of this fruit are gaining recognition in the United States, where it is typically in season in the fall and winter.
The pomegranate has a thick outer skin that is reddish in color. It can be small like an orange or as large as a grapefruit. To eat a pomegranate, you first cut it open with a knife and you will see the arils, or seed casings, which are red in color. The arils have a delicious sweet and sour taste. They come encased in a white peel, which people usually discard.
You can juice the 700 or so arils of a pomegranate and drink the juice plain. You will need several large pomegranates to make a glass of juice. Some people will dilute the juice with water so that it is not so concentrated. The Persian culture, where the pomegranate first originated, cooks with pomegranate juice, mixing it into a popular local stew called fesenjan, which is made with chicken and eaten with rice.
Nutrients and Health Benefits of Pomegranate Juice
The pomegranate is a good source of riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, vitamin C, phosphorus and calcium. The antioxidant capability of the pomegranate is even more potent than in green tea and red wine. This makes pomegranate juice effective in cancer prevention, preventing cell damage from free radicals. The antioxidants in pomegranate juice also have anti-aging benefits for the skin.
One study has shown that pomegranate juice is effective in reducing the oxidation of cholesterol that leads to artery hardening. It reduces damage to blood vessels. The high vitamin C content of the pomegranate also works against inflammation. It helps to reduce wheezing in asthma sufferers. Also, if you feel a cold coming on, drinking pomegranate juice should help to keep your cold at bay.
Pomegranate is also known to be useful for treating worms in the intestinal tract. If you have a bladder infection, pomegranate juice may be useful to speed your recovery. Pomegranate is also known to be good for soothing ulcers in the throat and mouth. Some holistic practitioners also prescribe it in capsules to strengthen the gums.
Some grocery stores carry ready-made pomegranate juice. For greatest benefits, you want to drink the juice fresh. You can juice the pomegranate yourself at home in a juicer. Or, cut open a pomegranate and place the arils in your mouth a few at a time to extract the juice. You can then spit out the seeds or chew and swallow them as a good source of fiber. You can also experiment with mixing pomegranate juice into stews if you like the sweet and sour taste.