pomegrante

You may have heard of pomegranates in relation to the superfood's superpowers. A pomegranate is a round, red fruit that originated in Iran and India and dates back to ancient times. Pomegranates have a distinctly tart flavor and have been used throughout history as a source of natural medicine and nutrition. A very thick hide covers the fruit that, unlike many other types of fruit, is inedible. The seeds inside the pomegranate's leathery covering are the edible portion of the food.

Pomegranate Nutrition
The high levels of antioxidants found in pomegranates give the fruit its "superfood" status, explains the California-based Preventive Medicine Research Institute. Antioxidants are vitamins that can prevent and repair free radical damage in your body, a type of damage found at the cellular level in response to toxins you've ingested or come into contact with. Pomegranates contain a variety of nutrients that can protect you from various forms of cancer and heart disease and may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

A 100g serving of pomegranate--approximately 3.5 oz. of the edible seeds, also called juice sacs--contains just a trace of fat. The same serving size is chock full of beneficial minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, fiber, and vitamin C. Pomegranates also contain small amounts of iron, protein, and B vitamins. The average sized pomegranate, measuring 2.5 to 5 inches in circumference, offers 63 to 78 calories of edible fruit, according to Purdue University's Department of Agriculture. The combination of high nutrition, low fat content, and few calories gives the pomegranate its superfood label.

How to Cut
Don't be intimidated by the thick skin of the fruit--pomegranates are easy to eat. Just be careful--the juice stains! Use a sharp knife to cut about a half inch below the crown of the fruit. You'll see sections divided by a thin membrane inside. Score along each section membrane vertically and then break the fruit apart. Loosen the seeds into a bowl of water and scoop the floating membrane from the top. Drain the water from the bowl and the seeds are ready to eat!

Serving Suggestions
Once the hide is cracked open, enjoy eating the juicy seeds as a healthy snack. Toss a handful into a green salad or eat them over ice cream. Simmer pomegranate seeds with a bit of water and sugar to create syrup--a drop of pomegranate syrup can provide a refreshing flavor to sparkling water or as a dessert accompaniment. You can also make pomegranate jam.

Storage Tips
Pomegranates enjoy a long shelf life when stored properly, about as long as an apple. The fruit remains ripe--and even becomes juicier and more flavorful--when stored in a cool pantry or refrigerator. Storage temperature should not exceed 40?F: pomegranates can become overripe and crack open in excessive heat and humidity. Pomegranates kept in cool storage may remain edible for as long as seven months in some cases, according to California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc. Increase the long life of your pomegranates by choosing your fruit well at the market. A ripe pomegranate should be bright red and emit a metallic sound when you tap it lightly.

Fun Facts
The pomegranate rind and foliage, deemed inedible to humans, are put to good use in other ways. The bright red hues of the pomegranate rind, flowers, and leaves are used to create textile dyes and ink. The bark of the pomegranate tree contains tannins that are beneficial to the production of leather.