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Pomegranates… Is the Buzz Real?

There is promising research on the benefits of pomegranates for heart health and prostate cancer. In a small study, drinking 8 ounces of 100% pomegranate juice a day reduced plaque buildup and blood pressure. Another small study showed a reduction in LDL cholesterol oxidation–a process by which its chemical form transforms into one that increases atherosclerosis (thickening of arteries). A preliminary study found that drinking 8 ounces of 100% pomegranate juice a day for 2 years slowed down the progression of prostate cancer. These results are attributed to antioxidants in pomegranates and their ability to fight inflammation.

Is pomegranate really a “superfruit”? Maybe. Most of the research is funded–$32 million–by POM Wonderful. Conflict of interest? Probably. The studies are still preliminary; using lab animals or a small sample size.

I think pomegranates are a healthy addition to your diet, but I won’t expect miracles or trash all other fruits. I like  Janet Helm‘s, MS, RD, take on “superfruits”:

I just wish people would think all fruits are super

If you’re into exploring this Persian/Middle Eastern-originated fruit, there’s no better time than September through January to get the best flavor and nutrients.

Nutrition

One half cup of arils has 72 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 16 grams of carbohydrates, while 1/2 cup of pomegranate juice has 62 calories, 16 grams of carbohydrate, and no fiber. You know where I’m heading: you’ll get a more wholesome package from the fresh fruit.

Two studies found that people with diabetes were able to enjoy 100% pomegranate juice without side effects on their diabetes parameters. And like all fruits, pomegranates have natural sugars that could add up if you’re not careful. Watch your portions.

Get Started with Pomegranate

One medium pomegranate yields about 3/4 cup of arils or 1/2 cup of juice. The “no mess” cleaning method is to cut the fruit into sections, immerse in a bowl of water, roll out the arils, then strain. My grandmother taught me another clean way, without the mess or the water.

Cut the pomegranate in half. Twist open.

Place a deep bowl in your kitchen sink. With a wooden spoon, gently beat the skin allowing the arils to fall. This step is easier when the fruit is fresh.

My husband and I like to eat the arils as is. Peel and eat. I’ve yet to explore how to use it with my usual dishes, and I have few ideas to get started:

  • With my breakfast cereal
  • With vanilla yogurt to make a fruit dip or a parfait
  • With garden, grilled chicken or tuna salads
  • With steamed green beans
  • With roasted butternut squash
  • With any fish recipe (see more below)

Many recipes feature pomegranates. Choose one that combines them with fish, leans meats, and other fruits and vegetables. Here are a few that I will be trying in the next few weeks. If you make any, let us know how you like it.

Appetizers

Pan-Toasted Brie with a POM Reduction Sauce (can be dessert too)

Pomegranate Yogurt Dip

Pomegranate Guacamole

Entree

Halibut Rolled with Pomegranate Stuffing

Roasted Salmon with Pomegranate and Avocado Salsa

More Pomegranate News

I recommend reading Dine Dish Delish blog. Janel Ovrut, also a registered dietitian, always has something about pomegranates.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Janel (Dine Dish Delish) December 16, 2009, 4:52 pm

    I love the look of your blog! It’s updated, right? Looks fantastic. Looking forward to reading more.

    • NourRD December 16, 2009, 8:47 pm

      Yes I made changes. Thanks for the support!

  • Farah Mourad December 17, 2009, 9:52 pm

    i LOVE pomegranate! maybe one of the best foods EVER…. i just hate that they are so expensive 🙁 i mean COME ON!

    I wonder how hard it is to grow yourself.. hopefully when i have a garden and am growing fresh fruits and veggies, i’ll grow poms.. yum!

    • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD December 18, 2009, 12:56 pm

      Sadly it’s not one of the most affordable fruits. It’s marketed as an exotic “superfruit” which bumps up prices. But if you think about it, it’s in season only for 5 months, and you can cut back on a pack of soda and get a couple pomegranates instead 🙂 Drink water!
      You need warm whether to grow pomegranates. They are grown in California and Florida, so depending on the climate of your future garden, it may or may not work. I would strongly encourage you to try though.