Pomegranate Basics, Plus 5 Sweet Recipes

If you've been buying the juice, you owe it to yourself to buy the whole fruit for use in salads, syrups, entrées, and even salsa and cocktails.

December 8, 2009

Pomegranate seeds add unique flavor and plenty of nutrients to any meal.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Piles of pomegranates are on display at your market right now, but do you pass them by? Not so fast. It's time to give those beauties a try; they're delicious and easier to work with than you might think. A scarlet-hued fruit with numerous juicy seeds, the pomegranate originated in Persia. It's a good source of potassium and vitamin C and, as you've probably heard by now, the fruit has higher antioxidant activity than green tea and red wine. You might have sampled pomegranate juice a time or two. But if buy the whole fruit, you can incorporate the seeds—as well as the juice—into lots of different pomegranate recipes.


There are plenty of reasons to enjoy pomegranates. First, they may help fight Alzheimer's disease. Loma Linda University researchers discovered that mice that consumed pomegranate juice experienced 50 percent less brain degeneration than animals that drank sugar-water. The mice drinking pomegranate juice also performed better in tests and mazes as they grew older. Pomegranates may help protect arteries, too. Israeli researchers found that diabetics who drank about two ounces of pomegranate juice daily for three months prevented the absorption of bad cholesterol into their immune-system cells (a contributing factor to artery disease).

The pomegranate's potent combo of polyphenols, ellagic acid, and isoflavones is thought to fight cancer. Pomegranate juice has been shown to delay the growth of prostate cancer in mice, and stabilize prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in men who've undergone treatment for prostate cancer. University of Wisconsin at Madison research shows that pomegranates may also fight lung-cancer growth. The mice in the Wisconsin study consumed the human equivalent of 16 ounces of juice daily. Finally, the fruit can also help protect your teeth. Pace University researchers found that pomegranate juice can kill the S. mutans bacteria, one of the main causes of cavities.

At the store, choose pomegranates that feel heavy and have good color. Steer clear of those with dry-looking or cracked rinds. The fruits keep at room temperature for two to three days, and they make a beautiful centerpiece mounded in a bowl. After that, store them in the fridge for up to three months. To get to the tangy, juicy seeds, carefully cut through the leathery, thin outer skin, and then separate the seeds from the cream-colored, inedible membrane. Be careful, as the juice can stain. Another option? Submerge the fruit in a bowl of water and slice it in half. The seeds are heavier than the membrane and will sink to the bottom. The seeds can be eaten whole, or added to green salads or fruit salads. When choosing store-bought pomegranate juice, make sure to buy 100 percent fruit juice. Or try making your own by cutting the fruit in half and straining it in a cheesecloth-lined hand-press juicer.

Now that you're armed with info about pomegranates, it's time to try the great pomegranate recipes on the Rodale Recipe Finder. You'll be pleasantly surprised at how versatile this disease-fighting fruit can be.

#1: Broiled Red Grapefruit with Pomegranate Syrup. When reduced to a delicious syrup, pomegranate juice makes a great topping for broiled fruit. For another breakfast idea, try
a fruit salad adorned with pomegranate seeds.

#2: Pomegranate, Steak, and Spinach Salad. Pomegranate seeds and juice add a tangy punch to this protein-rich lunchtime salad. Vegetarians can opt for a
Harvest Salad topped with pears, pomegranate seeds, and toasted walnuts.

#3: Pomegranate Salsa. Cocktail hour can be both festive and healthy when you serve zingy pomegranate salsa and pomegranate spritzers.

#4: Pomegranate-Glazed Carrots. This side dish using baby carrots is as easy as it is elegant—and a great addition to any holiday meal.

#5: Walnut-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Pomegranate Syrup. Your family will love these baked, nut-crusted chicken breasts served on a bed of greens and drizzled with honey-ginger pomegranate syrup. For other entrée ideas, try Salmon with Eggplant Mash and Pomegranate Vinaigrette or Rack of Lamb with Roasted Pomegranate Jus.

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