Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pomegranates: Heaven and Health

Anyone familiar with Greek myth knows the story of Persephone and the underworld where she was tricked by the god Hades into staying with him for several months out of the year. Though it was the pomegranate seeds he gave her to eat that bound her to this dark contract, pomegranates are anything but a forbidding fruit. Today they are considered a super food because of their ability to affect overall health in a considerably powerful way. 

Antioxidants Supreme
Pomegranate seeds contain antioxidants that are beneficial to the molecular structure of our bodies. Polyphenols, ellagic acid, gallic acid and punicalagin are some of the components that combat free radicals as well as other invasive toxins. With their additional gift of vitamins B1 2 3 5 6 and 9, vitamin C, potassium, iron, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin, these glistening fruity jewels made for some powerful medicine.

The Briefest of Histories
The Ancients truly knew what they were doing when they incorporated pomegranates into their diet, more than 3000 years ago. Starting with the Persians, they were subsequently used as a flavoring, a refreshing food, and a medicinal throughout the Middle East, India, Southern Europe, and eventually elsewhere in the world. Growing in dry terrain, the pomegranate can withstand drought while still bringing us the gift of its juicy, tart, nutritious seeds.

Pomegranate’s Gifts
According to the scientific advisor to the natural pomegranate juice product, POM, Dr. Risa Shulman, visiting professor at the University of California, these are some of the gifts given to us by the pomegranate:

  • Raising good cholesterol and lowering bad cholesterol
  • Thinning the blood to allow greater flow to the heart
  • Improving the memory by delivering more oxygen to the brain
  • Reducing plaque in the arteries by eliminating fatty deposits to lower the possibility of stroke and heart attack. This also decreases arthrosclerosis or hardening of the arteries
  • Preventing damage to cartilage through its action as an enzyme inhibitor
  • Fighting various types of cancer
  • Improving skin tone.

Further Scientific Corroboration
Coronary Disease:
There have been many scientific claims regarding pomegranates. An article in the American Journal of the College of Cardiologists reports an increase in oxygen flow to the heart and advises drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for patients with chronic coronary disease. 

Prostate Cancer:
Dr. Christopher Amling, who has been involved in prostate cancer patients reports that those drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice daily were able to stop chemo or hormone therapy due to the juice’s positive impact on PSA levels.

Lung Cancer:
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Cancer Chemoprevention Program reported in the journal, Cancer Research, that pomegranate juice shows promise in slowing down and ultimately preventing the proliferation of lung cancer. 

Estrogen Levels and Breast Cancer:
Dr. Ephraim Lansky of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Israel has stated that pomegranates may have the ability to replace the estrogen lacking in postmenopausal women. Further studies in this hospital have revealed that pomegranate seed oil helps to trigger the destruction of breast cancer cells while avoiding healthy cells.  This means pomegranates may also potentially help prevent breast cancer cells from forming. 

Alzheimer’s Disease:
In a study at Loma Linda University in California where mice with Alzheimer’s disease were given a daily dose of pomegranate juice, they were eventually able to perform complex mental tasks as destructive amyloid plaque accumulated in the brain began to diminish.

Erectile Dysfunction:
An article in the Journal of Urology claims that studies on animals suffering erectile dysfunction were successfully treated with pomegranate juice over a period of time, concluding that the overwhelmingly high anti-oxidant content in pomegranates helps to reduce oxidative stress that often contributes to this condition.

Taking Your Daily Dose
Just the simple sensual pleasure of opening up the fresh fruit and popping those juicy red seeds in your mouth (or someone else’s) is the best way to get your daily dose of heaven and health.  You can also put the seeds in a blender with other fruits and a dash of honey for extra sweetness. There are a plethora of dessert recipes using pomegranates, as well as tangy sauces to put over chicken or meat.  And if you swing towards cocktails, why not add a splash of pomegranate juice to your martini?  Delish….

Of course, fresh pomegranates are the best way to reap the benefits of the fruit, but you can also buy already bottled juice, concentrate, oil, capsules, or tablets from your local health food store.

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