Nutrition 101: There's a New Super Food in Town!

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
11/5/2008 6:00 PM   :  98 comments

Move over green tea and red wine, there is a new antioxidant-rich super food that's becoming more and more popular. The pomegranate used to be nothing more than a seasonal novelty--even though it is a fruit that has been around for centuries, as referenced in Persephone, Homer's Odyssey and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Over the last few years, however, there have been more and more products containing pomegranate popping up on store shelves. You can find pomegranate flavor or scent in everything from hand soap and body wash to ice cream and lollipops. So what is a pomegranate?

The pomegranate-- known as la granada in Spanish and la grenade in French--is a round fruit typically about the size of an orange or grapefruit with a distinctive crown-shaped calyx at its base. The outer skin is rather tough and leathery in texture. The skin color can range from pale pink to a rich ruby red. Inside, the pomegranate fruit contains chambers of ruby-red seeds separated by white pulp like membranes.

This fruit grows on small treelike shrubs and is a native plant from areas from northern India to Iran and throughout the Mediterranean region. It is believed that the plant was introduced to California by the Spanish settlers in 1769. If grown for fruit, it grows best in semi-arid or subtropical climates like Arizona and California, but the plant can be grown for ornamentation in cooler climates as well.

Pomegranates are one of the most nutritious fruits you can choose, but they are also one of the most difficult and labor intensive to eat. Not only is the fruit loaded with vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and fiber, scientists have found that it is also loaded with antioxidants that may help fight heart disease, cancer and the ongoing battle with aging.

The pomegranate fruit contains three different types of antioxidant polyphenols-- tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid. Found in many fruits, these are not specific to pomegranates; however, pomegranate juice contains a notably high amount of all three, which is what makes this fruit an antioxidant-rich super food.

When selecting a fruit, pick those that are heavy, brightly colored and have a rind without any splits. They can be safely kept refrigerated for several months, but they taste best when eaten fresh. The membranes and seeds are edible and can easily be put through a juicer. The seeds provide the largest portion of the fruit's fiber and can be sprinkled on salads, used in soups, breads or other baked goods. (Find some pomegranate recipes here.

How do you eat it?
  • Cut off the crown end and lightly score the rind from top to bottom in several places.
  • Soak the scored fruit in a bowl of cool water for several minutes. Carefully split the fruit apart while holding it under water. Holding the fruit under water as you break the sections apart will help reduce juice splatters.
  • Separate the seeds from the rind and membrane while in the water. The seeds will sink to the bottom of your bowl while the rind and membrane will float to the top.
  • Skim off the rind and membranes with a slotted spoon..
  • Drain the seeds and pat dry.


Some common ailments have been found to respond positively to pomegranate or its juice. Talk to your health care provider to see if pomegranates could be a natural option for you or someone in your family.

  • Anemia - There has been some indication that pomegranate juice can help with iron-poor blood, especially for women who lose volume monthly. Try adding a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a little honey to a warm cup of pomegranate juice.
  • Asthma - There has been some indication that pomegranates have some anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce wheezing in young children with asthma.
  • Loss of Appetite - Some people find that pomegranate juice can help increase appetite.
  • Sore Throat - The perceived anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranate juice may reduce soreness and redness in the throat.


Caution should be used regarding regular consumption of pomegranate juice if you are on any medications. There is concern that the potent antioxidant juice may affect the metabolism of some prescription medications. Blood pressure medications in particular should not be taken with pomegranate juice as it may cause your blood pressure to drop too low. Be sure to talk with your medical provider to find the best balance between your prescription medications and this wonderful and healthy super fruit.

During the holiday season you will likely see this beautiful red fruit in stores. Will you pick some up and give them a try?


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Comments

  • 98
    Ha, ha! I was eating one when I opened this article! They are such a treat! Glad they're so good for me! - 12/21/2011   9:41:01 AM
  • 97
    My kids love them, too! - 7/9/2010   9:32:08 AM
  • FISHINGLADY66
    96
    This was a timely article for me. I just bought a pomegranate two days ago and I didn't know how to eat one. I have never had one or seen one before. Thank you for this great information. - 12/21/2009   10:05:42 AM
  • 95
    I love them! I did not know about having the juice warm I will definitely try that. - 10/24/2009   5:59:49 PM
  • SEVENKITTY
    94
    Excellent....Great preparation tip! - 9/9/2009   6:52:32 PM
  • 93
    http://pomegranates.org / will bring up a website that has everything you want to know about Pomegranates with great recipes. They have a wonderful Pomegranagte Vinaigrette dressing. I have two pomegranate trees and I freeze my seeds and use them in salads, dressing, etc or just eat them. The web site also tells you how to freeze them. - 7/6/2009   11:58:13 AM
  • 92
    Oh yes and thanks for the tip of how to get them out of the skin. I forgot about these and will find them soon. I like these a lot use to eat them when I was at home haven't in awhile. - 3/15/2009   11:21:25 AM
  • NO-41_RAZZYS_PL
    91
    Love, love, love, love, LOVE! Never tried the juice warmed up and never knew how HEALTHY they were/are for me either! WooHoo! SHEESH, Tanya, I never even knew there was a 'correct' way to open them! LOL! I just tear-tug-pull apart and I'm good to go!! Thanks for sharing! - 1/19/2009   4:01:08 PM
  • 90
    I absolutely love pomegranates. It's like eating tiny jewels. I never heard that technique (submerging the fruit), but I'll definitely have to try it the next time I eat one. Thank you for the tip. - 12/20/2008   12:59:13 AM
  • BETHPROVERBS31
    89
    Pomegranates bring back warm memories of watching my mother eat the seeds when I was a child. She didn't like the hard seeds, so she would eat the flesh off of each seed and spit the hard part out! I remembered thinking that was a lot of work for a little mouthful of taste...LOL! Now that I am grown, I love pomegranates all ways, but I usually put the seeds through a food processor to puree them and add a small amount of unsweetened natural apple juice to the puree to make a delicious, nutritious drink! YUMMY! - 12/8/2008   12:48:13 AM
  • BETHPROVERBS31
    88
    Pomegranates bring back warm memories of watching my mother eat the seeds when I was a child. She didn't like the hard seeds, so she would eat the flesh off of each seed and spit the hard part out! I remembered thinking that was a lot of work for a little mouthful of taste...LOL! Now that I am grown, I love pomegranates all ways, but I usually put the seeds through a food processor to puree them and add a small amount of unsweetened natural apple juice to the puree to make a delicious, nutritious drink! YUMMY! - 12/8/2008   12:38:53 AM
  • 87
    I love the flavor, but do you eat the "nutty" part of the seed? I spit that part out, and it makes it too gross for me! - 11/30/2008   9:53:52 AM
  • 86
    (from ndchristi #46) I love to put the seeds in my oatmeal in the morning. They're a great way to mix it up from the blueberries or cranberries that I usually use. What a great Idea!!!!!
    I have found a number of other super ideas for pomagranates, thanks so much. - 11/19/2008   2:03:07 PM
  • 85
    I've loved this since I was a kid. I never knew they were this healthy for ya! - 11/19/2008   1:56:53 PM
  • 84
    I LOVE pomegranates taste and WOW (!!!) those antioxidants . - 11/17/2008   12:55:32 PM
  • 83
    I love pomegranates, I never knew they were so good for me. I have one every year around Christmas my Dad always used to buy one for me - 11/12/2008   7:07:15 PM
  • MARGOMCP
    82
    In fourth grade, in 1959-1960, a classmate brought in one for his lunch and the teacher asked her to share a few seeds with each of us and I fell in love. Since then, my mother bought me one every winter for 15-20 years as a special thing between us. I bought one here a couple weeks ago but haven't worked on it yet. - 11/10/2008   12:08:09 PM
  • 81
    I've loved pomegranates for years! My grocery store had them on sale today so I picked up one. After I got home, I tried peeling it as instructed above. Worked like a charm! And so much easier and neater than I thought. I'll buy them more often now! - 11/9/2008   8:06:57 PM
  • 80
    I never knew that the seeds are edible. I will give this another tyr. Thanks. - 11/8/2008   7:54:01 PM
  • 79
    I love pomegranates. I have been eating them since I was in my teens - over 30 years. I look forward to them every late fall through the winter. The nutritional value is worth the cost to me and they are quite easy to manage once you get the hang of it. - 11/8/2008   5:38:01 PM
  • 78
    I've been busy with pomegranites and peeling and seeding and juicing and bottling them all week. Yes, they can be frozen too. I make pomegranite jellies and jams every year for Chirstmas gifts. I get the poms for free from a friend's trees. Its a lot of work but it is a unique gift that family seems to appreciate, they keep asking for more. Try peeling them in a bowl of cold water, under water and you can do it rather quickly without staining. Pour the water and seeds out into a strainer to drain and you have your seeds. It is so much easier that way. - 11/8/2008   12:21:36 PM
  • 77
    I saw these in the store for the first time yesterday. Thanks for the information on how to prepare these. - 11/8/2008   11:13:48 AM
  • 76
    I remember my dad bringing home a pomegranate nearly 30 years ago for us to try for the first time. It's amazing to me that it took so long to become mainstream. I love that tart flavor and I get excited every year when they come in season. It's just a wonderful bonus that they are ultra healthy to boot!!! - 11/8/2008   9:55:36 AM
  • 75
    Bigelow makes a great caffeine free herbal tea called pomegranate pizzazz, you can order it in bulk direct from their website...yummy hot or cold! - 11/8/2008   4:25:50 AM
  • 74
    Lots of juice you find in the regular grocery store says POM Juice, but when you read the label, it has APPLE JUICE and others listed before any POM Juice. Be careful not to get "taken" by labels. - 11/7/2008   11:45:00 PM
  • SALLYFROGG
    73
    I enjoy the fruit as much as the juice (POM) and use as many as I can in season and now with the juice out of season. My children like the fruit becuase we crush the seeds and use them in making homemade paint for finger painting! - 11/7/2008   3:51:50 PM
  • STUCKFORTEN
    72
    They are in our stores here in AZ now and I'm going to buy some. As a kid I always ate them but, believe it or not, I would eat the red fleshy part and throw out the little seed inside. Needless to say, it would take me hours to finish a fruit! I'll probably still do the same thing because I can't stand the little hard things! - 11/7/2008   3:43:06 PM
  • 71
    Love poms - grew up with them. They really are fantastic if you can find a friend with a tree - just as the skins begin to burst open - they are perfectly ripe. YUM.
    We make pom jelly & a fantastic ice cream topping & syrup every year. Its wonderful! The prices keep me from buying them - i have the good fortune of going over to my uncles house and picking them fresh.
    I've tried the water separation method - didnt have great success. We cut them into wedges, peel off the outside and throw them through the juicer. Works great. - 11/7/2008   1:59:32 PM
  • 70
    For the past 10 years I've been growing ,using and giving away those fruits until I read about they nutritional content and healh imput. I have since started provinding seedlings for the school near by. As of now there are about 10 large ones on the tree ,with about 25 persons waiting to get one. Sitting right here on the table is one large one I picked just before night fall. - 11/7/2008   1:53:58 PM
  • 69
    Back in the 60's when my Dad was stationed in Texas, my Mom would get some for us to eat. I really enjoyed them, but then we moved & couldn't find them. Now, my husband has retired from the Air Force, but we still have base privellages (spelled wrong I know), & I try to get them when the commissary has them. Thanks for the info for an easier way to eat them though. - 11/7/2008   11:57:45 AM
  • SLW1955
    68
    I guess I'll stay away from this fruit, as I have high blood pressure and am on medication. I didn't know about poms interfering with Rxs - thanks for that info! - 11/7/2008   11:49:57 AM
  • 67
    STAINS -- pomegranate juice stains as badly as grape juice and wine. Pour boiling water through the spilled juice asap. This works perfectly if you catch it in time.
    But it's worth it. Great fun for kids to help, and everybody loves it that I know.
    Geo - 11/7/2008   11:05:30 AM
  • CHOCMOM
    66
    This is great - I just bought one a week ago (hope it isn't too old yet) at a Whole Foods Store. I've never ate one and I had no idea how to - but I wanted to try one. I found a great looking salad recipe on line - spinach, mandarin oranges, nuts and a dressing made from the juice of the pomegranates - of course you cover the salad with the seeds. I plan to make it tomorrow. Thanks for all the tips.
    - 11/7/2008   10:12:53 AM
  • 65
    Mmmm! One of my favourite fruits!

    Personally, I love that it takes a long time to eat (although I can't say I sit down and eat one whole in a sitting) because I really learn to enjoy the taste and flavour and I'm not scarfing it down like I would a banana or some other fruit.

    As a kid I always liked having the bright red/purple fingers, as an adult, I get a big "toothpick" (like the ones used to hold club sandwiches together) and use that to get the seeds out. Yum! - 11/7/2008   9:43:57 AM
  • 64
    I love them too, but always seemed like so much work just to get those goofy little seeds lol. Now that I have the way to cut and soak them I'll do that. And to know you can store them in the refridge for months is great. I know my daughter likes them too.... - 11/7/2008   9:31:15 AM
  • 63
    My parents had them growing in our yard when I was growing up. I remember how much of a pain it was to eat! But recently at the store, I saw that Mott's now has pomegranate applesauce in the snack sized cups. So I've been buying those. - 11/7/2008   9:24:42 AM
  • 62
    My youngest use to love poms when she was young. Back in those days they were cheap. We would eat them like grapefruits (cut in half and scoop out the seeds and membrane with a spoon). Today's high prices is just fad and hype. Labelling anything as a "super food" or antioxydant does nothing but double the price. The whole concept of super foods is a marketing hype to jack up the price of both the whole food and the myriad of products containing a speck of it. - 11/7/2008   9:18:09 AM
  • 61
    Love them, now that I know they will last in the fridge for several months I'm gonna stock up while they are on sale. In Maryland we get them in November & sometimes December any other time they are way to expensive. Does anyone know if they freeze well? - 11/7/2008   8:30:46 AM
  • 60
    Pomegranates are such as great fruit. Nice to know how healthy they are. - 11/7/2008   7:36:29 AM
  • 59
    I like to use a pin and pick up one seed at a time - can take all evening to eat :-) - 11/7/2008   3:20:02 AM
  • 58
    I just picked up two of these from Walmart today. They were on sale for $1.68 a piece. I grew up on these things. I am happy to find out that they are a new super food! - 11/6/2008   8:53:37 PM
  • 57
    I like the V8 Blueberry Pomegranate juice. 6 oz gives you a full serving of fruit/veggie for 75 calories, and it tastes really good! - 11/6/2008   7:05:05 PM
  • 56
    I just tried a pomegranate last night. I guess you just eat the seeds even though they are crunchy? - 11/6/2008   5:57:16 PM
  • 55
    I do love pomegranates, but around here, they are expensive! At the local grocery stores, they are $2.50 each, and at whole foods they are $2.99 each! - 11/6/2008   3:12:16 PM
  • BEACHBUM205
    54
    My grocery store sells small containers or pomegranate seeds - so easy to toss a spoonful into a salad - and it makes it so pretty. - 11/6/2008   3:00:04 PM
  • 53
    Pomegranates remind me of my Grandma and her house, and I love to eat them every year when they are in season!!! - 11/6/2008   2:45:37 PM
  • 52
    really do submerge the fruit under water it does squirt and stain. - 11/6/2008   1:51:24 PM
  • 51
    I just saw these on sale in the grocery store last night, but didn't pick any up because I didn't know how to prepare them or what to do with them. After reading this blog I'm going to go back and get one to give it a try. If I like it I'll go back for more. Thanks for encouraging me to try something new! - 11/6/2008   1:23:44 PM
  • IMAGIN8
    50
    One came in this week's office fruit basket, and I didn't know what to do with it! Maybe I'll give it a try. - 11/6/2008   12:48:31 PM
  • 49
    I have eaten ponegranates all my life .. my kids love the juice.. they can be a mess
    to eat but soo good - 11/6/2008   12:33:24 PM

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