It can be surprising when a common food has uncommon nutritional effects. The pomegranate is one such food; although common to wide sections of the Middle East, the fruit is a great source of nutrients.
The pomegranate started out in Persia, and expanded from there. It spread naturally to Himalayas. It was also cultivated in Mediterranean areas, as well as the southwestern part of the United States and throughout Africa and Latin America. The fruit is eaten in a variety of forms, ranging from raw to cooked to an alcoholic syrup (better known as grenadine). Because of this versatility, the fruit has found itself in a wide variety of foods, lending its flavor to almost anything, ranging from soups to desserts. Also, the fruit has taken on several symbolic meanings, usually referring to resurrection or as a symbol of the good things accessible in the next life.
The pomegranate fruit itself is divided into the peel, the pulp, and the arils, the small blood-red sections covering the seeds. The peel and pulp are usually discarded, with almost all of the nutritional value coming from the arils. There are a number of ways to separate the arils from the rest of the fruit, but the most efficient is to peel the fruit underwater, where the pulp almost falls off the arils.
The pomegranate has a number of health benefits. The seeds are rich in Vitamins B5 (pantothenic acid) and C, as well as potassium and antioxidant polyphenols, such as tannins and beta-carotene. Because of this content, some health food producers use the pomegranate as a source for their supplements rather than as the fruit itself, and the fruit has become one of the favorites of nutritionists.
Suffice to say, there are a number of health benefits ascribed to pomegranates. The most obvious is that it is a source of anti-aging antioxidants, which act by helping to eliminate free radicals in human cells. Also, the fruit helps reduce a number of heart disease risk factors, such as LDL levels, foam cell formation, and macrophage oxidization status, helping to alleviate the issues of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. Also, it helps prevent breath cancer by limiting the creation of estrogen. A wide variety of other uses have been ascribed, ranging from helping against viral infections and bacterial aspect of dental plaque, as well as reducing systolic blood pressure.
Testing for a wide variety of other diseases, such as colds, diabetes, lymphoma, and a variety of cancers is being carried out, with the prognosis so far being rather optimistic; ellagitannins have localized in the prostate, colon, and intestinal tissues of mice, helping to cure various cancers. Human trials are still mostly in long-term trials, with early results looking good.
Because of its versatility as a food and the variety of illnesses it helps prevent, medical science holds great faith that pomegranates will be of great assistance in dealing with a number of diseases. Only the completion of testing will tell if that faith is well-placed, and so far the prognosis is good that it is.