Fruit of the Month for December: Pomegranate
Pomegranate is a red fruit full of beautiful jewel looking berries. This sweet, tangy fruit has been enjoyed by many for centuries. For the month of December, we are going to explore the wonders of the pomegranate through its background, cultural significances, and wonderful health benefits.
What is a Pomegranate?
Pomegranates look like apples with thick red skin and a flowery top. The skin is very tough and inedible, making it difficult to prepare the fruit. Beneath the tough outer layer is the edible berries. The arils are the sweet, juicy flesh that surrounds the seeds.
Where Did the Pomegranate Originate From?
The pomegranate originated from Iran and has been cultivated in the Mediterranean for centuries.
Where is the Pomegranate Grown?
Although this fruit has its origins in the Middle East, pomegranate is grown in the warmer parts of North and South America. Higher temperatures and a drier climate causes the plants to produce sweeter fruit.
The Cultural Significance of the Pomegranate
Pomegranates have symbolism, religious meaning, and mythological meaning. The fruit is used as decoration for both Christianity and Judaism. In Judaism, pomegranate is the symbol of righteousness. As for mythological meaning, the pomegranate takes center stage in the Greek mythological story about Persephone.
For some background, the tale of Persephone is used by the Greeks to explain the change of the seasons, specifically winter. In this story, Persephone, the daughter of the goddess of the harvest (Demeter), is taken by Hades to the underworld to become his wife. When in the underworld, if anyone eats or drinks anything they are then bound to stay there forever. Persephone eats some pomegranate seeds, and is unable to leave.
The number of pomegranate seeds is significant because they determine the amount of time Persephone is to spend there. Every iteration of the story has a different number of seeds eaten, however she is only bound to live in the underworld for four months out of the year. For the rest of the year, Persephone is able to be on Earth with her mother. When she is not on Earth, Demeter is heart-broken and refuses to let anything grow.
Pomegranates have some serious health benefits. They are packed with great nutrients that have some cancer fighting potential. Adding pomegranate to your every-day diet improves your health and well being.
Pomegranates are Nutrient Dense
Pomegranates are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The fruit contains bioactive plant compounds, such as antioxidants. Bioactive plant compounds are found in small quantities of the fruit, vegetable, or whole grain and have nutritional values apart form the nutritional value of the food already. These compounds protect the body from harmful diseases.
Pomegranates Contain Two Important Compounds
The two plant compounds, punicalagins and punicic acid, are the reason for the fruit’s health benefits. Punicalagins are antioxidants that are found in the peel and the juice of the fruit. Because of this pomegranates have three times the antioxidant activity than green tea.
Punicic acid is found in the seed oil of the fruit and is the main fatty acid of the arils. This acid is a type of conjugated linoleic acid, or a type of omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 fatty acids are good for the body.
Pomegranates Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Because of the punicalagins within the fruit, pomegranates have anti-inflammatory effects. This helps to aide diabetes, cancer, and other preventable diseases. Eating pomegranate may slow and inhibit the reproduction of cancer cells, but more research needs to be conducted to further determine this. The anti-inflammatory effects can also help lower blood pressure and help fight against arthritis and other joint pains.
Pomegranates May Help to Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
The punicic acids protects the heart from heart disease by lowering potential risks. Punicic acid reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol within the arteries and protects LDL from oxidation. LDL is harmful to the body in large amounts and the oxidation of LDL promotes the likeliness of developing heart disease. Consuming pomegranates can also help reduce high blood pressure.
Pomegranates Help Fight Bacterial and Fungal Infections
Pomegranates help fight the bacterial and fungal infections that can occur in the body. Such aide includes fighting gingivitis, periodontitis, and other oral infections. The fruit also fights against yeast infections.
Have you ever tried this deliciously jeweled fruit? Let me know in the comments down below!
12 Health benefits of Pomegranate, written by Joe Leech MS.
Pomegranate, written by the editors of New World Encyclopedia.
Bioactive Compounds, found in Acrylamide in Food.
CLA ( Conjugated Linoleic Acid): A Detailed Review, written by Kris Gunnars BSc.
Pomegranate, written by the editors of Encyclopedia Britannica