Pomegranates: an amazingly healthy fruit!

Pomegranates are unusual, beautiful and incredibly tasty fruits. It is a somewhat peculiar fruit, in that it consists of approximately 600 seeds, each surrounded by a pulp. The juice contained by this pulp is what gives pomegranates their characteristic flavour, juiciness and colour. The seeds that are surrounded by this delicious pulp are known as arils.

This collection of arils is surrounded by quite a tough skin. Pomegranates can be consumed solid or in the form of juice (see below). To consume the pomegranate in the solid form, you should use a sharp knife to make incisions on the skin, which will allow you to pry it open. Once you have made the incision it is very simple to split the pomegranate open. You will notice that the arils will be completely undamaged if you use this technique. A ripe pomegranate will have deep red arils and an absolutely delectable flavour! The seeds are quite soft and tiny, so you will hardly notice them.

Pomegranate juice 

Many people prefer to consume pomegranates in the form of juice. Pomegranate juice has exceptional health benefits and tastes absolutely fantastic, so it is not surprising that it now enjoys a considerable worldwide following. Pomegranate juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin B5, but it is its antioxidants that make it so incredibly good for your health.

Some people find that pomegranate juice has a slightly harsh aftertaste. They suggest mixing pomegranate juice with milk, which results in a truly delectable, sweet, smooth pomegranate-flavoured drink. You've got to try this at least once!

Pomegranate health benefits

The health benefits of pomegranates are documented by an impressive body of scientific work. The most abundant antioxidant substances in pomegranate are tannins, which are a sub-class of polyphenols. Tannins have considerable free radical absorbance properties that have been convincingly demonstrated in the lab. Free radicals are highly reactive chemical species that are a natural byproduct of metabolic reactions in the body. They speed up the ageing process, damage DNA and may also favour the formation of cancers. Therefore any substance that can mop them up and make them harmless is highly beneficial to your health. Pomegranate juice contains a lot of antioxidants, which means that drinking pomegranate juice on a regular basis will significantly reduce the concentration of free radicals in your system.

Other laboratory studies have yielded evidence that pomegranate juice may be useful in reducing the risk of heart disease, oxidative stress and the reduction of systolic blood pressure. Amazingly, the polyphenols contained in pomegranate juice have been shown to inhibit the multiplication of breast cancer cells in vitro.

All in all, this delicious juice can make a very positive contribution to your health with its antioxidant activity, keeping you looking younger and healthier for longer. It is just as well that pomegranate juice tastes so good!

Pomegranate extract 

Pomegranate extract is an excellent alternative for those who simply don't want to deal with having to peel and serve pomegranates, or who don't want to ingest the sugars contained in pomegranate juice. Taking pomegranate extract in the form of capsules is an extremely convenient way to enjoy the health benefits of pomegranate without having to eat the fruit or drink its juice. You should take pomegranate extract capsules with food. Pomegranate extract capsules typically consist of 500 mg servings. Pomegranate extract has been shown, amongst other things, to reduce the formation of dental plaque, which is implicated in gum disease, bad breath and other conditions. It is suspected that this effect is due to the anti-bacterial activity of pomegranate extract.

Pomegranate molasses 

Pomegranate molasses is an exciting and delicious novelty in the Western world, but it has been used in traditional recipes for centuries in Middle Eastern countries. Making pomegranate molasses is quite straightforward: you will need 4 cups of pomegranate juice, half a cup of sugar, and a quarter of a cup of lemon juice. Mix all of the ingredients in a saucepan and heat it with stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Let it simmer for about an hour until it achieves the correct consistency. Then let it cool and store in a refrigerator. You can of course tweak its sweetness by adding sugar to taste.

Pomegranate molasses is an excellent addition to cold, light, "summery" deserts. Enjoy!

Pomegranate trees 

The pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) is native to Iran, but was successfully introduced to the entire Mediterranean region thousands of years ago. It grows extremely well in Mediterranean climates, which means hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Pomegranate trees can attain heights of between 5 and 8 metres. Like the fruit itself, pomegranate flowers are quite striking: they are bright red, approximately 3 cm in diameter and with four or five petals. Pomegranate trees are so beautiful that they are not just grown for the delicious fruits they bear, but also as purely ornamental plants.

Pomegranate trees are deciduous, which means that they lose their leaves in the autumn. Depending on the cultivar, pomegranate trees can be trees or shrubs. You therefore have a choice depending on your personal taste and vision for your garden. Trees are undeniably more visually striking, but shrubs are easier to harvest.

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