Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Who’s Afraid of a Little Pomegranate?

It’s that little red fruit that we have trouble figuring out what to do with! I mean really, getting it open is a challenge in itself, right? Well, don’t be afraid of it! This cool little fruit is packed with Vitamin C, Vitamin B5, Potassium, and Polyphenol Antioxidants and in fact, drinking pomegranate juice daily will improve your health in lots of ways.

Even though studies have been going on for many years, it seems that this little fruit has just recently gained its popularity with reports of its health benefits. There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the pomegranate plays a role in promoting cardiovascular health and the benefits of its super antioxidants in neutralizing free radicals. For men, it was also reported to promote improved prostate health and proper erectile function. It also has been reported to aid in reducing Systolic Blood Pressure, may inhibit Viral Infections, and it may have antibacterial effects against Dental Plaque of all things. Many studies have shown improvements with drinking as little as just an 8oz. glass of juice daily. If you’re not into drinking the juice straight, you can mix into a variety of beverages and also use it in many recipes. You can even eat those juicy little seeds as a snack, on your morning cereal or in salads!

While no one food can guarantee complete protection from any disease, you should fill your diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, exercise at least 30 minutes per day, and follow up with your doctor recommended health screenings.

One of the most popular brands in bottled pomegranate juice found in almost any food store is “POM Wonderful” offering 100% juice. It's one that has been backed by $25 million in medical research, in fact, they claim to be the only one backed by any medical research at all. While there are lots of pomegranate juices on the market, keep in mind that some of the blended varieties have very little pomegranate juice in them at all and are filled with sugars. Be sure to choose one that is 100% pure juice with limited amounts of sweeteners to get the most of its benefits.

When it comes to fresh pomegranates, most of your local food markets offer fruits that are already fully ripened. They should be about the size of a large orange, heavy for its size and have a blemish free reddish-pink skin. Inside there is a bitter white tissue called the pith that surrounds the hundreds of little juicy sacs filled with seeds. The seeds can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months and in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you’re up for it, try using this simple technique to open a fresh pomegranate and remove the seeds. It’s really not that hard... you’ll see!
  1. Fill a large bowl with water.
  2. Cut off the crown and end of the pomegranate.
  3. Score the thick skin from top to bottom in quarters.
  4. Place the pomegranate into the bowl of water and allow it to soak for 5 minutes.
  5. Break apart the pomegranate underwater. (This keeps the juice from squirting all over you and staining everything in its path, including your kitchen counter and your clothes.)
  6. Carefully wrestle the little seeds out of the pith with your fingers. The pith will float to the top of the water and the seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Skim the pith and rind off the top and toss it in the trash, then pour the seeds into a colander, drain and carefully pat them dry. Now they’re ready for whatever your imagination has in store!!
If you just want juice from the pomegranate and not the seeds, there’s a couple of ways you can do it, but you better suit up first! That little thing loves to squirt and remember it will stain everything it hits! You can store the squeezed juice in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Use one of these two ways to get your juice:
  1. For one, you can simply cut the pomegranate it in half and using a regular hand citrus juicer, squeeze and press the fruit in a circling motion until no more juice comes out. Line a colander with a cheese-cloth and strain the juice.
  2. Or, you can just press the fruit against a countertop, rolling back and forth to break open the little sacs that contain the juice. Puncture a hole in one end of the pomegranate and squeeze the juice out. You might also need to strain the juice using a cheese-cloth to remove any little seed particles that may have come out.

Well, that’s it and it wasn’t even that big of a deal... anyone can do it and there’s nothing to be afraid of! Enjoy!

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