ShareThis Page
Celebrate the short season of pomegranates |

Celebrate the short season of pomegranates

| Tuesday, November 23, 2010 12:00 a.m

Everyone knows Eve ate forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, but did you know it was likely a pomegranate, not an apple?

Apples are not native to the Middle East, but pomegranates are, and they were a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life in ancient cultures. Its juice was used for everything from a treatment for upset stomach to a cure for leprosy.

Slightly bigger than a typical apple, the pomegranate (Punica granatum) has a leathery rind that when ripe has a deep rosy color with a small crown on the top. Inside it is nearly hollow, with white pith that cradles hundreds of brilliant red seed sacs bursting with tangy sweet juice. The crunchy white seeds inside the sacs can be enjoyed or spit out, although then you’ll miss most of the fiber. One pomegranate provides about 100 calories and is relatively rich in potassium and vitamin C, as well as oxidant-squelching polyphenols and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.

Pomegranate juice is extolled and heavily marketed these days as one of the most antioxidant-rich juice. Laboratory and animal studies of pomegranate extract show a protective effect against cancers of the breast, colon, lung, prostate and skin, and against liver disease, obesity and even dental plaque.

A recent study at the University of California at Los Angeles of men being treated for prostate cancer suggests eight ounces of pomegranate juice daily can slow tumor growth. The researchers credit ellagitannins.

The fruit’s cardio-protective qualities are also promising. Animal studies suggest lower blood pressure, less plaque in arteries and lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from an amount equivalent to two cups a day in humans.

The distinct season of pomegranates runs from October to January. The tangy, bright red seed sacs add crunch and zest sprinkled on desserts, salads or added to soups. It’s tricky, however, to break apart pomegranates without making a mess. Here’s a tip: Score the rind several times, then use your hands to break apart the fruit in a bowl of water, gently coaxing the crimson clusters free. Then strain off the water and enjoy your reward.

Pomegranate Yogurt Dip

This recipe is from the Pomegranate Council.

  • 1 large pomegranate
  • 2 cups chilled plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

Score and break apart the pomegranate in a bowl of water, then gently coax the seed sacs free. Strain the water off.

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, juice, scallions, cilantro and salt.

Gently fold in all but two tablespoons of the pomegranate seed sacs.

Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with mint and remaining seed sacs.

Chill for 30 minutes. Serve with crudites.

Makes 2 cups.

Nutrition information per 1/4-cup serving: 183 calories, 1 gram fat, 4 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrate, 107 milligrams sodium.

Catherine Golub is a registered dietitian.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.