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All about “Pomegranate / Grenade”

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The health benefits of pomegranate

Several  prospective  and  epidemiological studies  have revealed that a high consumption of fruits and vegetables decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases 3 , certain cancers 25  and other chronic diseases , 2,26 .

The presence of antioxidants in fruits and vegetables could play a role in these protective effects.

Pomegranate juice for cardiovascular disease .

Several studies have found that regular consumption  of pomegranate juice  could prevent certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease . A clinical study has shown a reduction in atherosclerotic lesions following consumption of pomegranate juice 10 . In people who have had coronary artery disease, the consumption of pomegranate juice   has improved  blood circulation in the arteries . 11 In diabetic patients with high blood lipids, pomegranate juice has lowered total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) 12. This beneficial effect, however, has only been seen in people with high cholesterol 12 , not in healthy people 8 .

Consumption of pomegranate juice could also lower blood pressure in people with hypertension 16 . Pomegranate juice may even improve  endothelial function  (that is, the health or elasticity of blood vessels) in adolescents with metabolic syndrome. However, a diet rich in antioxidants obtained by other types of juice or fruit and vegetables, could have the same effect 15 .

The virtues of pomegranate against certain cancers

According to the results of in vitro studies  , pomegranate juice or pomegranate juice extracts could delay the progression of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer 17,28 , colon cancer 18 , 27  and cancer breast 19 . However, clinical studies will be needed to assess the effects of pomegranate juice in humans.
In patients with prostate cancer, daily consumption of pomegranate juice would decrease the  growth of cancer cells  and increase the resistance of lipids to oxidation 20 , 29 .

The effects of pomegranate on neurological disorders .

Animal studies show that pomegranate juice may have a neuroprotective effect  . It would protect the brain in case of injuries linked to birth problems 22  and would have beneficial effects on neurological signs associated with the disease of Alzheimer’s 23 . These results must be validated in humans and will make it possible to specify the action mechanisms concerned. Some studies in humans also show promising memory effects . 42

Pomegranate to take care of your joints

Laboratory studies have shown that pomegranate extract can block enzymes that are known to damage joints in people with OA 36,37 .

A powerful anti-inflammatory 

Chronic inflammation is one of the main drivers of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes , Alzheimer’s disease and even obesity. Pomegranate has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which are largely mediated by its antioxidant properties. A study in diabetics demonstrated that drinking 250 ml of pomegranate juice daily for 12 weeks lowered the inflammatory markers of C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively 38 .

Pomegranate to boost its sports performance

Pomegranate is rich in food nitrates like beetroot. Dietary nitrates have shown positive effects on performance. In a study of 19 athletes on a treadmill, 1 gram of pomegranate extract 30 minutes before exercise significantly improved blood flow. This resulted in a delay in the onset of fatigue, and an increase in the effectiveness of the exercise. More studies are needed but the effects are promising 43 .

The other benefits of pomegranate on the body

Preliminary research suggests that pomegranate could possibly properties  antiinflammatory s 31 , antibacterial s 32  and antiviral s 33 , 34 . Its anti-bacterial and antifungal effects could potentially be protective against infections and inflammation of the mouth including gingivitis, periodontitis and dental stomatitis 40 , 41 .  

The nutritional profile of pomegranate

Nutritional value of pomegranate

  Fresh pomegranate, ½ fruit, 9.5 cm diameter (77 g)
Calories 64
Protein 1.3 g
Carbohydrates 14.5g
Fat 0.9 g
Dietary fiber 3.1g
Glycemic load  : No data available
Antioxidant power  : Yes, but precise data not available

·         Sources  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.

Pomegranate: an excellent antioxidant

Even though pomegranate seeds contain a high amount  of antioxidants , the juice contains  more , 24 . In fact, the whole fruit is pressed when the juice is extracted. It is thus enriched with  antioxidants  present in very large quantities in the white membranes which surround the seeds.

Among some forty fruits (including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants), pomegranate is at the top of the list of  antioxidants 4 . The main antioxidants found in pomegranate are flavonoids (especially anthocyanins ), tannins and ellagic acid 5-7 . The anthocyanins give the pomegranate its red color. The tannins impart a bitter taste to the pomegranate juice and the white membranes that surround the seeds.

The pomegranate also contains punicalagins, which have a very powerful antioxidant power and which one finds in the juice and the skin of the pomegranate. Pomegranate extracts are usually made from the skin, due to its high antioxidant content

The antioxidant activity of pomegranate and its juice is said to be greater than that of green tea and red wine. Their protective effect would also be more powerful than that of other drinks rich in phenolic compounds , such as blueberry and grape juice, or red wine 13 , 14 .

According to a study, consumption of pomegranate juice would increase the antioxidant activity of the blood, thus making it possible to protect blood lipids (for example cholesterol) against oxidation , 13 . However, researchers have found that the beneficial effects of pomegranate juice may also be due to byproducts of the gut microflora . According to them, we must be careful before extrapolating these results in humans, since each individual has a different absorption rate and metabolism with the antioxidants in pomegranate juice 9 .

Breast cancer and estrogens
Several studies in animals and on cell cultures suggest that pomegranate juice could reduce the risk of breast cancer by acting on estrogen receptors and non-estrogen receptors 30 .

Several studies report that fruits rich in flavonoids, anthocyanins and procyanidins, such as pomegranate, have the potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. These compounds are said to act synergistically on various markers, for example in blood platelets and blood vessels 35 . The antioxidants in pomegranate could also participate in the beneficial effects observed on cancer 21 . However, it has been shown that the beneficial effect of pomegranate juice on cancer cells would be greater than that of antioxidants taken in isolation. Despite these promising results, other clinical studies should be conducted to confirm the effects of pomegranate on the prevention or treatment of cancer and cardiovascular disease in humans.

A source of punic acid

The pomegranate also contains punic acid which is the main fatty acid in the arils of the pomegranate. It is a type of linoleic acid conjugated with powerful biological effects. In a study involving 51 people with high cholesterol and high triglycerides, the consumption of 800 milligrams of pomegranate seed oil rich in punic acid per day for 4 weeks had significantly lowered the triglycerides and improved the triglycerides: HDL ratio (good cholesterol) 39 .

Main vitamins and minerals

  Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) Pomegranate is a source of vitamin B5.
  Vitamin B6 ( pyridoxine) Pomegranate is a source of vitamin B6.
  Vitamin C Pomegranate is a source of vitamin C.
  Copper Pomegranate is a source of copper.

Recipe ideas for eating more pomegranate

To access other recipes, you can go to the CuisineAZ.com cooking recipes site, which offers, among others, the following recipes : pomegranate recipes , pomegranate juice, pomegranate jam

Arils (pulpy seeds)

  • In salads. With lamb’s lettuce or arugula , raisins and hazelnuts. With bitter greens (chicory, radicchio, endive) and chestnuts. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Add a handful of fresh arils to a dried fruit salad including apricots, prunes, grapes, almonds, pistachios, rose or orange blossom water and honey.
with pomegranate
  • Add them to a fruit salad made up of pears or apples, grapes, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and figs. Season with honey and, if desired, a drizzle of fruity liqueur. You can omit the liquor and serve with yogurt, cottage cheese or fromage blanc.
  • In salsa . Mix arils, hot pepper, green onion, pieces of citrus and coriander leaves.
  • In cakes, muffins and other pastries, dried arils can replace raisins .
  • Add some fresh arils to a slice of bread covered with hummus (chickpea puree).
  • Serve fresh arils with black or brown rice and flaked almonds that have been roasted.
  • Slightly browned in a little butter , the arils go perfectly with roasted meat or enhance a dish of sautéed vegetables.
  • Serve a chicken breast marinated in orange juice and soy sauce on a bed of raw baby spinach, garnished with figs and pomegranate arils.
  • Stuff a sweet pepper with dried fruits and nuts, coat with a walnut sauce and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
  • In India, fresh arils decorate many vegetarian dishes, particularly vegetable curries (potatoes, mushrooms, etc.). As for the dried arils, they are used in the composition of spice mixtures, to which they give a pleasant sweet and sour flavor.

Pomegranate juice, syrup and molasses

  • In coulis , creams, sorbets and ice cream.
  • Coat a cheesecake with a pomegranate sauce.
  • Add the juice to a vinaigrette and season with oven-roasted beets, toasted hazelnuts.
  • Prepare a sauce including olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, chopped mint and parsley, salt and pepper, and top with a grilled eggplant salad.
  • Because of its richness in proteolytic enzymes , the juice is traditionally used to marinate meats or fish.
  • Rice and lentil soup . Sauté onions in clarified butter or oil. Add rice, lentils, turmeric, salt, pepper and water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add parsley, green onions and pomegranate juice (about 1 cup for 8 cups of water) and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Garnish with mint leaves and raisins, then serve.
  • Muhammara . This Turkish sauce is made up of roasted and peeled red pepper, garlic, onion, chili paste (or a small hot chili), bread crumbs, ground nuts, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses (which can be replaced by concentrated juice), yogurt, cumin and salt. Go to the blender and then go up in sauce by gradually adding olive oil. Serve as a dip with pita bread, crackers or raw vegetables.
  • Kisir . This Turkish version of tabbouleh is made of bulgur with red pepper, tomato, onion, parsley, mint and a little pomegranate juice. It is traditionally served on vine leaves blanched in boiling water.

How to choose and store a pomegranate?

Choose the right pomegranates

Fresh fruit . The ripe fruit emits a metallic sound when struck with the back of the hand. For equal size, choose the heaviest fruits, a sign that they are juicy. The bark should be smooth, shiny, of a beautiful deep red and free from browning.

Syrup . Read the label carefully to make sure it is real pomegranate syrup, not corn syrup.

Juice and concentrate . They are now available in supermarkets.

Dried arils, whole or powdered, and pomegranate molasses . They are found in Middle Eastern or Indian grocery stores.

How to prepare and eat a pomegranate?

Drink the juice in its original packaging
Nothing allows you to enjoy pomegranate juice as much as drinking it from the fruit. With your hand, roll the pomegranate on a work surface to break the arils, but without damaging the bark. Then make a hole at the end of the fruit and suck the juice out using a straw .

To remove the seeds. With a good knife, remove the cap from the fruit, then cut it into 4 or 5 quarters. Submerge the quarters in a bowl of water and gently scrape them to release all the seeds. These sink to the bottom of the water and just remove all the pieces of white membrane (inedible) that float. Pour into a colander and briefly pass underwater.

Avoid aluminum pans and plain steel knives, which cause the fruit to become more bitter.

To extract the juice . Gently crush the arils in a sieve placed in a bowl or pass them through a stainless steel potato masher. They can also be passed through a blender and then through a sieve to extract the juice, or use a juice extractor. To reduce bitterness, it is best to remove the white membrane from the fruit.

Make your own syrup . Boil 2 cups of arils and 2 cups of sugar (or honey). Go through a cloth to remove the seeds. Keep in the fridge to prevent fermentation.

A medium pomegranate makes 1/2 to 3/4 cup arils and 1/3 to 1/2 cup juice .

How to store pomegranate?

Refrigerator . The fresh fruit will keep for a few weeks or even a few months. The juice can be stored for a few days.

Freezer . The fresh arils will keep for 1 year.

Keep the arils dried , whole or powdered in a cool, dry place, away from light.

The little story of pomegranate

Common names: pomegranate, pomegranate.                                                       

Scientific name: Punica granatum .
Family: Punicaceae.

First appeared in the pume garnet form in 1175, the term ”  pomegranate  ” appeared in the French language in 1314. It comes from the Latin malum granatum which means “small berry fruit”. It is actually a large berry comprising seeds individually surrounded by a red pulp (the arils ). The current Latin name punica comes from what the Romans also called the fruit Punicum malum , literally ”  Punic apple  “, by allusion to the ancient Phenicia, where large orchards of pomegranates were kept.

With dates, figs, olives and grapes, the pomegranate certainly represents the quintessence of Middle Eastern cuisine. These fruits were undoubtedly among the first to be domesticated in this region of the world (more precisely in Iran, it is believed), about 5,000 or 6,000 years ago. Thanks to the resistance of its bark, which makes it a long-lasting fruit and unlikely to be damaged during transport, pomegranate was, early in history, one of the staple foods of travelers and caravanners. Its waterlogged and slightly acidulous pulp helped quench thirst during long desert crossings. Its seeds therefore quickly spread east (Afghanistan, India, China) and west (Egypt).

The Moors will introduce it to Spain where, under their influence, it will give its name to the city of Granada. In Mesopotamia, it is the symbol of fertility, because of its many arils, which would amount to 840. In Asia, as in ancient Greece and Rome, it takes on various other meanings in the 3 major monotheistic religions: nostalgia of the promised land for the Hebrews in exile, symbol of divine perfections for Christians, antidote against hatred and envy among Muslims.

Red or white arils?
Pomegranate juice is intensely red . In the past, they even made ink . But today we have selected a variety with white arils , which does not stain fingers, table linen or cutting boards …

Today, pomegranate is grown in many tropical and dry subtropical regions of Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as in America, from California to Chile. Long ignored by North American consumers, pomegranate is gaining an excellent reputation with gourmets. Added to this culinary popularity is the interest it arouses among researchers, who are studying its antioxidant properties and the role it could play in the prevention of various diseases.

In addition to fresh fruit, there are pomegranate juice (or concentrate) on the market as well as various pomegranate flavored products: milk, carbonated or alcoholic drinks, lemonades, desserts. There is also a syrup called ”  grenadine  ” and another, much thicker, less sweet and more tangy which is called ”  pomegranate molasses  “. Finally, there are also dried arils , whole or powdered, which are widely used in Indian cuisine, and various specialty products (vinegar and pomegranate wine, sauces, etc.).

There are many varieties of pomegranate trees, which produce more or less acidic or sweet fruit, large or small, and whose color of the bark varies from cream to red. In our markets, we only know practically the Wonderful pomegranate , which is grown on a large scale in California.

Ecology and environment

Irrigating wisely
In India, the need for food is growing exponentially. Irrigation of crops is becoming more and more common, as it increases yields per hectare. However, the massive use of irrigation has led to a significant decrease in water supplies in the south of the country.

To counter the problem, we turn to drip irrigation systems (or localized irrigation) which bring water directly to the roots of cultivated plants. This system considerably limits losses due to evaporation or involuntary weed irrigation. Thanks to this system, we can also cut fertilizer intake by around 30%. In the pomegranate orchards where it has been planted, we have observed a 98% increase in yield as well as a 45% decrease in water requirements.

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