Although it grows wild in its native environment rather freely, widespread cultivation of this highly prized fruit gem has been practiced in the Middle East and Orient for well over a thousand years. Now this ancient fruit is enjoying a newfound popularity, here, in the U.S.
The pomegranate, with its rich color, surprising structure, and strong sweet taste was brought to North American shores, for the first time, by the Spanish conquistadors. This unusual fruit, whose name means "apple with many seeds", has not reached the level of popularity in this country that it enjoys in its native lands, or in Europe.
This small tree, shrub-like, plant can be grown successfully in the American dessert southwest, and further south into the hot and arid climate of the South American countries of Chile and Argentina. It is, currently, successfully cultivated in Arizona and southern California. Unfortunately, due to its limited commercial success in the U.S., the fruit and juice, both, are rather expensive. Beside the fact of its well-touted health benefit potential, the many fans of this strange looking fruit do appreciate the unique taste, color, and textural variety the pomegranate brings to the ordinary diet.
When it comes to the health advantages of eating pomegranates, what makes this fruit so special?
Nutritional research science, now, suggests that all parts of the pomegranate, seeds, juice, and peel offers its own unique polyphenol protection. Polyphenols are plant antioxidants (natural chemical nutrients) that help protect us from developing many different kinds of diseases.
As in the case of this particular fruit, which consists primarily of juicy seeds called "arils", ellagic acid is the main polyphenol found in pomegranates, and it is this substance that helps control several types of cancer. There is also a high level of punicic acid, which is closely related to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy trans fat found in nature. Daily drinking 6 to 8 ounces of pomegranate juice seems to prevent or inhibit cancer growth in prostate, breast, and reduces inflammatory enzymes in colon cancer.
Its amazing antioxidant power has also been studied in its relative importance to cardiovascular health.
Consuming the seeds, for at least 3 months, seems to halt the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Type 2 diabetics have more problems with the development of this disease, than those without Type 2 diabetes. The juice from the seeds appears to halt atherosclerosis by lowering high blood cholesterol levels.
Pomegranates are, also, a good source of vitamin B-6 and vitamin C. Vitamin C, of course, is well known for its healthy promotion of blood vessel strength, and vitamin B-6 deficiencies have been linked to higher homocysteine levels in heart attack and stroke victims.
Other, less notable, health advantages from eating this fruit are:
1. combats the build up of dental plaque
2. naturally calms diarrhea
3. eases, or eliminates, the many different symptoms of menopause
4. protects against the development of osteoporosis
5. natural skin conditioner and great sunburn protection
6. possible preventive use in HIV infection
More studies need to be undertaken in all of these different health arenas, but this fruit, currently, appears to have a lot of powerful health potential. Before jumping into eating a substantial amount of this plant food a couple of warnings need to be mentioned here, as these may affect certain individuals.
The juice derived from the seeds of this fruit is extremely high in natural sugars (30 grams per 8 ounce serving). If you are a diabetic, or hypoglycemic, you should not drink the juice on an empty stomach. However, eating the seeds will slow down the absorption of the fruit sugars with their naturally occurring plant fiber content.
There is also some evidence, in preliminary research studies, that suggests that pomegranate juice, like that of the juice from the grapefruit, may interact with certain prescription drugs. Please, play it safe. Consult with your pharmacist or doctor before adding a large amount of this fruit, or fruit juice, to your daily diet.
Beefing up your daily water intake, along with your improved daily dietary practices, will also carry in the nutrients to (via blood flow) to all body cells for metabolism. Water will also carry away the metabolic wastes, and other noxious toxins, out of cells, and on out of the body through elimination. Choosing a more natural food diet, definitely, calls for more of a natural fluid beverage choice, in saying you are really living a healthier diet lifestyle.