Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Cooking with Fey! It’s suddenly cold and rainy here on this suspiciously wintery feeling Friday and today we are going to talk about one of my guilty pleasures- the pretty pomegranate.
Pomegranates are a complicated fruit to eat. Technically they are a berry, but the exterior skin is thick and inedible, trust me on this. But what is edible are the amazingly delicious seeds inside, which are called arils. Fantastic pomegranates have health benefits to add to your diet such as: reducing free radicals in the body, protecting our heart and aiding our bodies with their anti-inflammatory properties. These health benefits are wonderful for those of us with Atrial Fibrillation, as we can use all the help we can get to help our hearts function better and safer.
Pomegranates are also an excellent source of:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Antioxidant Punicalagin
- Punicic Acid
As you may know, pomegranates are a fantastic source of Vitamin C, which is an important nutrient linked to immune system health. Having a strong immune system helps the body ward off illness or recover faster from sickness.
Vitamin C is also great for the heart. In a research study published by the Harvard School of Public Health, the diets of 126,399 adults were examined over the course of many years to reveal that for every serving of fruits and vegetables a person consumed, there was a 4% reduction in their risk of developing coronary heart disease. The study also pointed out that leafy green vegetables and foods high in Vitamin C, like pomegranates, had the largest positive impact.
Vitamin K is important to the body because it is needed for the body to product a protein called prothrombin, which allows the body to support bone metabolism and form helpful blood clots (like when you get a papercut and the blood clots to stop the bleeding, not the scary kind of blood clot). Vitamin K creates healthy, strong bones by increasing their density. Denser bones are less likely to break or sustain injury.
While folate, which is one of the B-vitamins, is important for tissue growth and normal cell function. Further, folate is especially important for pregnant women and our active aging populations.
Meanwhile, potassium helps the body maintain a normal blood pressure and nerve function. This means that pomegranates can help the nervous system regulate muscle movements more effectively. This is great for those of us wanting to lead more physically active lifestyles as the potassium found in pomegranates can make our muscles more effective during exercise or sports!
Additionally, pomegranates contain a fantastic source of antioxidants to fight off free radicals in the body. As you may remember from a previous blog on strawberries, antioxidants have been shown in studies to delay cognitive issues like memory less, fight some cancers and decrease your chances of developing heart disease or diabetes. Pomegranates contain three times (3x) the antioxidant levels of green tea or red wines. Which is quite the feat for such little arils!
These same antioxidants also keep our skin looking young and beautiful. Science is starting to show that consuming antioxidants can help slow the onset of wrinkles, age spots or decreased elasticity in our skin.
Punicalagins are a type of antioxidant found in pomegranate juice. This particular type of antioxidant works to reduce inflammation in the body. Preliminary studies are showing that pomegranates can reduce inflammation in the digestive tract, as well as work wonders for decreasing the inflammation in breast cancer and colon cancer cells. Diabetics can also rejoice for the health benefits of punicalagins. In a study performed by scientists Sohrab, Nasrollahzadeh, Zand, Amiri, Tohidi and Kimiagar during a 12-week study concerning people with diabetes, the researchers found that 1.1 cups (250 ml) of pomegranate juice per day lowered the inflammation markers CRP and interleukin-6 by 32% and 30%, respectively. Which may sound a little too “sciency” for this nutrition series, so just know that this is a really good thing for anyone living with diabetes.
Punicic Acid is a type of fatty acid found in the arils, or seeds, of pomegranates. Punicic Acid is a type of Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that many people use to help reduce their overall body fat percentage. I know many a personal trainer, nutritionist and doctor who tell their clients or patients about how wonderful CLA’s are for fat reduction. Science is also starting to point out that CLA consumption has a link to lower risks of developing type 2 diabetes and some cancers.