Did you know that pomegranates are chock full of an elusive antioxidant called punicalagins?

This antioxidant decimates free radicals that are the culprit of inflammatory diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancers, arthritis and have been shown to improve memory in humans. Pomegranates contain three times the antioxidant levels of red wine and green tea! Growing up, my mom brought home one or two of these a year as a special treat. She called them “Chinese apples.” This stems from the Dutch translation. Since New York was settled by the Dutch originally, this actually makes some sense! She cut them into 6 wedges and we would take a slice, and try to capture as many seeds as we could get into our mouths at one time. I did not realize the biblical significance or the health benefits but I’ve loved this exotic fruit since childhood.

The nutritional value of one cup of pomegranate aurils based on the USDA recommended daily allowances are:

Protein 3 grams
Fiber 7 grams
Vitamin C 30%
Vitamin K 36%
Folate 16%
Carbohydrates 24 grams
Calories 144

A variety of studies have been done to ascertain the health benefits of these sweet and tart auirlis. Some studies have been conducted on humans, some on lab animals but all at least indicate health benefits are likely. The studies have shown that drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice per day will….

1. Reduce heart problems by increasing blood flow

2. Prevent cancer, specifically breast and prostate by decreasing the PSA levels and fighting against existing cancer cells in the body

3. Reducing arthritis by preventing the relation of enzymes that break down muscle and connective tissue

4. Decreasing memory loss and possibly Alzheimer’s disease…patients that drink pomegranate juice daily have demonstrated better postoperative memory function after heart valve or bypass surgery

5. Other notable benefits are reduction in wrinkles, smooth, glowing skin, improvement with erectile dysfunction and dental health.

This ancient fruit dates back to biblical times and has been cultivated in the Middle East, Asia and is now grown in in the US. It is most readily available from October to February in the Western Hemisphere.

So, what do you do with pomegranates and how do you get this fruit into your diet? The more I read, the more it makes sense to add their juice into your diet to gain their superfood benefits most efficiently. The aurils are beautiful sprinkled over green salads, baked or grilled eggplant dishes and roasted squash. The juice can be reduced to a syrup, add some soy, garlic and ginger then use it to glaze salmon, chicken or tofu. Also use as a stir fry sauce. Or simply, add 8 ounces to your morning power smoothie.

Rad Pom Smoothie

1 cup frozen mixed berries
1/2 banana
Generous Handful baby spinach or kale
1/4 cup nut milk
1/4 cup pomegranate juice

1-2 tablespoons hemp protein powder

Blend and sip. Adjust thickness as needed by adding water or ice cubes.

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