Fresh Pomegranates are available in September through January. Nutritional research confirms that pomegranates contain minerals e.g. calcium, potassium, and iron, plus compounds known as phytonutrients, that help the body protect against heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer.The powerful antioxidants in the fruit also help retard aging and can neutralize almost twice as many free radicals as red wine and seven times as many as green tea.
Studies on both mice and humans have produced positive results in the reversal of atherosclerosis. After one year of drinking eight oz. of pomegranate juice daily, the people in a 2004 study showed a 35 % decline in thickness of the carotid artery walls. Over the same period, the people who did not drink the juice showed a 9% increase in the thickness of the carotid arterial wall.
Buying pomegranate juice is tricky, though. Only a quarter of the companies that market it are selling the actual product. Many of them contain cheaper juices (apple, grape, or pear) to stretch the more expensive pomegranate juice. Others are sweetened with sugars or colored with blackcurrant to assimilate the color of pomegranates. Check ingredient labels; the price is also a clue to an unadulterated product.
Fresh pomegranates, also known as "Chinese apples" sparkle in winter and holiday meals adding brilliant color, flavor and texture to dishes ranging from appetizers to desserts. The ruby colored fruit we refer to as seeds are called arils. Use the arils as a garnish or add to tossed salads. Each aril is a delicious sac of juice that surrounds a seed. Pomegranates can contain 840 arils that are compartmentalized between shiny, tough membranes. The arils range from pink to dark red. Whether you swallow the seeds or spit them out is a matter of personal preference. Keep in mind that the seeds add fiber; researchers suggest that the crunchy seeds help flush fats and cholesterol from the digestive tract.
The edible fruit from one medium pomegranate (5 ounces) contains 104 calories, 1.5 g protein, 26.4 g carbohydrates, 9 mg vitamin C and 399 mg potassium. One medium pomegranate weighs about 9 ounces and yields about 5 ounces of fruit (3/4 cup) and 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of juice.
WHOLE pomegranates keep well at room temperature for several days, away from sunlight; up to 3 months refrigerated in plastic bags.
For more ways to enjoy pomegranates, click POM recipes