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4 Reasons to Enjoy a Pomegranate this Holiday Season (and How to Open)
By Ethan Boldt
November 18, 2022
Pomegranates may be one of those odd-looking fruits that you pass by in the supermarket and never think twice about. Well, today, we ask you to consider picking one up next time because they're loaded with health benefits … and their color and flavor really match the winter holidays.
Brimming with beneficial antioxidants and polyphenols, studies indicate that the pomegranate fruit can help promote healthy inflammation levels, boost brain function and even help promote healthy blood pressure.
But how do you enjoy a pomegranate? We'll show you how to open a pomegranate and how to take advantage of its most valuable attributes: the pomegranate seeds and juice ("pom juice"). They’re delicious, nutritious and easy to enjoy in a number of different recipes.
The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-producing deciduous shrub or small tree in the Lythraceae family, and it's native to southeastern Europe and Asia. It's about the size of a large orange with a smooth, thick skin that ranges in color from brownish yellow to deep red.
Cutting open a pomegranate reveals chambers of hundreds of arils, which are the seed pods inside the pomegranate that are separated by cream-colored membranes. These arils or seed pods are what we commonly refer to as “pomegranate seeds.” A single pomegranate can hold over 600 seeds.
Pomegranate seeds are typically either eaten raw or processed into pomegranate juice. One large pomegranate typically makes somewhere between one-fourth and one-half cup of juice. The seeds can be vibrant red and quite tart, or also more white and sweeter. They are also used to make pomegranate seed oil.
Promoting healthy Inflammation levels can impact the entire body, including the health and comfort of one or more joints in the body. Pomegranates provide high amounts of flavonols, which are a type of antioxidant that act as healthy inflammation-promoting agents in the body.
Healthy inflammation is associated with keeping the entire body healthy. Studies indicate pomegranate’s significant healthy inflammation-promoting activity in the gut.
The juice of pomegranate seeds contains several different types of antioxidants and polyphenols that can promote heart health by helping to promote healthy blood pressure levels.
One study looked at the effects of pomegranate juice and how it supports healthy blood pressure as well as overall heart and arterial health, promoting cardiovascular health.
The juice of pomegranates contains a tannin called punicalagin as well as polyphenols, anthocyanins, ellagic acid derivatives and hydrolyzable tannins. These are all very powerful antioxidants that support the use of pomegranate juice for skin and overall health.
One study showed that the antioxidant activity from pomegranate juice was three times higher than red wine and green tea.
The polyphenols in pomegranate seeds and their juice may boost healthy cognitive function.
One study with elderly individuals who had memory-supporting goals drank eight ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for four weeks. While more studies need to be conducted, this study showed that, compared to the control group, those who drank pomegranate juice showcased significantly improved markers of verbal and visual memory function.
First, you want to get a relatively fresh pomegranate. They usually are found in your local grocery store from September to January. In some states, it's year round.
Make sure you choose one that feels heavy, indicating it's full of fresh seeds. And the skin should have a leathery feel to it, without any soft spots.
Now, to open, make sure you have a sharp large knife, wooden cutting board, bowl, wooden spoon and stainless steel spoon. Follow these steps:
To open a pomegranate, you need a knife, bowl and wooden spoon:
Roll the pomegranate around on the cutting board to loosen the seeds.
Carefully score around the middle of the fruit skin (not the inside) with the sharp knife, then tear it open into two halves.
Hold half of the pomegranate with the seeds facing down over a clean bowl, then tap the skin with a wooden spoon while slightly squeezing to encourage the release of the seeds. Do the same thing with the other half.
Not all seeds will come out this way, so simply remove the rest with your finger or a stainless steel spoon.
While whole pomegranates can be stored unopened at room temperature for about one week, they can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic for up to two months. Fresh pomegranate seeds, meanwhile, do not last nearly as long. They can be refrigerated for up to three days.
To turn the seeds into juice, simply put the seeds into a blender and then strain the resulting juice with a cheesecloth.
How to use pomegranate seeds and juice? The options are endless.
Pomegranate seeds are delicious (and healthy) on their own, but they also can be incorporated into salads, smoothies, salsa, cranberry sauces or with a white meat like chicken or turkey dish.
A few ounces of pomegranate juice makes for a great breakfast drink or an evening mocktail. It also can be used in a smoothie.