These are questions I tend to get from patients pretty often. So I’ve decided to pick an in-season superfood and go through the specific benefits they impart. During the next year I’ll be picking in season foods from time to time to give you more information on them as well as adding a recipe or two,to make integrating them into your diet a little easier.
Being January, its very common to find pomegranates still in season although they are on their way out of season. Check your local grocery stores, you may be able to snag a few of these for about a dollar or two a piece for most of January. Generally pomegranates are in season from late summer to early winter (August to January depending on where you live). Pomegranates are a round fruit about the size of a grapefruit with thick leathery skin that encases juicy, pale-pink or deep-crimson seeds, that are held in place by a bitter, creamy-yellow membrane. Pomegranates themselves can vary in colour from deep red to yellow flushed with pink. When buying them it is best to ensure they aren’t too squishy and that the skin is firm and taut.
Once you have the fruit at home, its best to wash it and then separate the seeds out for easy use. There are many different ways to take the seeds out of the shell. Some people cut it in half, cut a horizontal strip or two into the halves, hold it over a deep bowl (to catch the splatter) and then hit the back with a large serving utensil to loosen the seeds. Others cut it into four sections over a bowl to catch the juice, and then loosen the seeds by hand. Have fun with it and find the best way for you.
So what makes pomegranates such a powerhouse food? Well for starters they’re high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), fibre and small amounts of vitamin K. They also contain very high amounts of polyphenols, a class of potent antioxidants, such as ellagic acid, tannins, anthocyanins and flavonoids. The seeds are the main source of fibre (meaning the juice alone does’nt contain a lot of fibre), as well as containing unsaturated fats. When looking at ways to enjoy this fruit, your best bet is to buy it fresh. If you’re going for the juice it is best to avoid ‘from concentrate’ juices as a lot of the beneficial antioxidants are no longer present and sugar may have been added.
Preliminary research has shown pomegranites to be effective in reducing health risk factors for diseases such as heart disease, aiding in the treatment of mild to moderate hypertension, as well as showing anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Further research is being done into a variety of different conditions.
Great ways to integrate this fruit into your diet is in smoothies, with yogurt, oatmeal and eating it raw. If you’re looking for a non-synthetic way to color food, pomegranite juice gives a lovely pink tint to many foods, dressings, icings and beverages.
Other ways to add this ‘jewel of autumn’? Check out the recipes below, and feel free to let me know how you like them. The majority of these are recipes I’ve given to patients and were met with great feedback, but I’m always open to suggestions!