The Power of Pomegranate
The Non-Forbidden Fruit
Pomegranates have long captured the imaginations of many cultures around the world. A subtropical fruit native to ancient Persia, it spread east into different parts of India and Asia and west into the Mediterranean basin and was brought to the New World by Spanish and Portuguese traders. Archeological evidence from the Middle Bronze Age in Jericho suggests that it has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years. Pomegranate figures prominently in ancient texts, world mythologies and in both sacred and secular iconography as a symbol of fertility, abundance and prosperity.
Some historians believe that pomegranate, commonly known as the “apple with many seeds,” was in fact the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. In Greek mythology pomegranates are associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who is said to have planted the first pomegranate tree in Cyprus. In Judaism, Moses describes the pomegranate as the fruit of the Promised Land to the Israelites wandering in the Egyptian desert. In Persian mythology the legendary hero Esfandiyār in the epic Shahnameh consumes pomegranate seeds and attains supreme invincibility.
All parts of the pomegranate from the leathery hard rind, to the bark, to the flower to the seeds have long been valued for their therapeutic potential in many traditional medicines particularly Unani, Tibetan, Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Ayurveda, pomegranates are sweet, sour and astringent and are beneficial for all three doshic constitutions, but particularly cooling and balancing for high Pitta individuals.
Today pomegranate arils have become one of the most popular antioxidant rich superfruits, finding their way into cereals, energy bars, juices, yogurt and chocolate. It is with good reason that we have seen an explosion of this fruit. Rich in Vitamin C, pomegranate arils contain calcium, phosphorus, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin along with powerful polyphenols noted in many studies for their antioxidative potential.
The research on pomegranate is ever-increasing and points to many therapeutic applications. Numerous studies suggest that pomegranate can play a potential role in the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. Research has shown that pomegranate can reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure in addition to protecting nitric oxide in the arterial lining or endothelium from oxidative damage. Nitric oxide keeps arteries flexible and inflammation free. Pomegranate juice consumption has shown to improve lipid profiles in diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia. Pomegranate extracts show promise in retarding cancer cell progression in prostate, breast, colon and lung cancer. Additional research on pomegranate extract ranges from dental plaque reduction to arthritis to obesity.
Using both fresh or freeze-dried arils of a ripe pomegranate can yield the greatest benefit. Anywhere from 300-800 seeds, also known as arils are housed in a white membrane. The sweet, juicy pulp that surrounds the seed is known as the sarcotesta, which is the edible extension of the seed coat itself. Making a homemade pomegranate juice by simply using fresh or freeze-dried pomegranate arils and water is far better than purchasing a processed, pasteurized juice, where polyphenols may be denatured. Fresh or freeze-dried arils make a delicious addition to yogurt, salads, smoothies, chutneys and stews. In Indian cuisine, a popular spice known as anardana is made by grinding whole, dried pomegranate arils into a coarse powder. Purchasing whole, freeze-dried pomegranate arils and pulverizing them for each culinary application is recommended for optimal flavour and nutrient integrity. Traditionally used to flavour curries and chutneys, this coarse material is absolutely delicious and can be sprinkled onto salads, in cereal and used to make a variety of marinades, sauces, energy bars and desserts.
Integrating pomegranate into your daily diet offers countless benefits. You may not achieve the invincibility and indomitable strength of the famed Persian hero, but it will certainly increase your chances.
Pomegranate-Goji Energy Balls
4 tablespoons of freshly ground powder from whole, freeze-dried Organic Traditions Pomegranate arils
4 tablespoons of Organic Traditions Hemp Hearts
3 tablespoons of freshly ground powder from whole, dried Organic Traditions Goji Berries
1 tablespoon of Organic Traditions Sprouted Chia powder
1 tablespoon of Natural Traditions Rice Bran & Germ powder
½ teaspoon of Organic Traditions Vanilla powder
1 ½ -2 tablespoons of Organic Traditions Raw Coconut Oil
For the Glaze
1 tablespoon of Organic Traditions Yacon Gold Syrup
In a high speed blender or food processor blend roughly 5 tablespoons of whole, freeze-dried pomegranate arils into a powder and set aside. Blend roughly 5 tablespoons of whole, dried goji berries into a powder and set aside. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the coconut oil and work the material evenly throughout the coconut oil. Roll into small balls and glaze with the Yacon syrup. Place the balls in the freezer for 15 minutes. Makes 6-8 balls depending on how large you decide to roll them. Enjoy 1-2 with a cup of tea.
Renita Rietz is a health and nutrition writer and speaker who educates on the phytotherapeutic potential of indigenous foods and plants for prevention and regeneration.