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Pomegranate Juice


Pomegranate juice is rapidly becoming a popular alternative to more familiar fruit juices, not least because of its flavoursome taste and powerful anti-oxidant properties.  It is often referred to as a 'super fruit', as it is particularly rich in vitamin C and polyphenols, a powerful form of antioxidants that are credited with aiding the prevention of cancer and heart disease.  These act to protect the body from free radicals, substances which impair the proper functioning of the immune system.  In fact, it has significantly higher levels of polyphenols than red wine or green tea! In addition, it is a good source of Vitamins A, E, B5, potassium, folic acid, iron, fibre and is low in calories.

The pomegranate {Punica granatum} is a fruit bearing shrub or tree native to Persia and parts of Asia, where it has a significant cultural profile figuring prominently in religion, art and literature.  It has been naturalised and cultivated more widely for thousands of years, including across the Mediterranean.   The fruit looks like a large rounded apple, with a tough yellow, pink or red leathery skin that contains hundreds of seeds enclosed in a red juicy pulp which is sweetly tart.

What's good about it?

The benefits of pomegranate juice have begun to be explored and are there are wide-ranging studies being undertaken.  These have focused on the ability of pomegranate juice and its compounds to address cardiovascular disease and aid in preventing the development of cancers.

-           Heart disease - Pomegranate juice has been shown to reduce the formation of plaques in the arteries and consequently the hardening of blood vessels (atherosclerosis). The sugars in pomegranate juice and their associated antioxidants actually act to protective against this action thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and stroke.

-           Cholesterol - Pomegranate juice raises levels of 'good' cholesterols and lowers 'bad' cholesterols in the body, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

-           Cancer - the polyphenols (anti-oxidants) in pomegranate juice have been shown to stabilise the impact or slow the growth of cancer cells.  They may even kill cancer cells and prevent or delay the need for other treatments such as hormone treatment or chemotherapy, both of which have harmful side effects.  Studies have demonstrated a retarded growth of cancer cells in sufferers of prostrate and breast cancers.  This is particularly significant for men, as prostrate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the UK and Australia.

-           Blood pressure - pomegranate juice has been shown to act as a blood thinner, improving the flow of blood to the heart and reducing blood pressure.  Exploratory studies have also found a reduction in erectile dysfunction after consumption of pomegranate juice, a condition linked to impaired circulatory flow.

-           Anti-inflammatory - Pomegranate juice and extracts act on the enzymes responsible for cartilage loss, inhibiting the onset of arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Making your own!

Pomegranates are an awkward fruit to access and the juice does stain clothing.  The following simple steps make the process a little easier.

Cut the fruit into sections and soak in a bowl of water for a few minutes

This will make the juicy sacs easier to remove from the membranes

Using your hands remove the juice sacs from their compartments

These will sink to the bottom of the bowl, whilst the skin/membranes should float

Discard the membranes and skin

Drain the water and pat dry the sacs

Juice or blend and then strain the juice with a sieve

It should be noted that the pasteurisation (partial sterilisation) process, used in many bottled drinks, may destroy the natural properties of the fruit content.  Food additives such as sodium benzoate and benzoic acid, aimed at preventing the liquid deteriorating, may also alter the chemical nature of the Juice.

Please bear in mind that pomegranate juice alone is not a cure all, and should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.  Consult your nutritionist or local health food outlet for further information on pomegranate juice.


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