ΤHE POMEGRANATE

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Symbol of life and fertility, the pomegranate is a source of precious nutrients that benefit the organism’s health and wellness as long as you know the way to take the most of it.

The pomegranate seed is given to Persephone by Pluto to “bind” her with Hades and the emblem of the Eleusinian mysteries. The ancient Egyptians use to bury it with their dead and it is also one of the three “blessed fruits” of Buddhism. It was used as a decoration in the temple of Solomon and the cloaks of the priests and it is mentioned in the “Song of Songs” in the Old Testament. In the Greek tradition, pomegranate is the symbol of fertility and eternity (although it is combined also with death), that is why at the Greek weddings and on New Year’s Day we break pomegranates. In fact, it has given its name to the Spanish city of Granada. Find out the secrets of the pomegranates yourself and discover the reasons why so many cultures and religions over the years have the pomegranate fruit as a symbol of life, fertility, health, richness and good luck.

From the first trees to be cultivated

The pomegranate originated in Central Asia, particularly in Persia. It was one of the first fruits to be cultivated and its botanical name is Punica Granatum. The pomegranate tree is a small deciduous tree with glossy leaves and orange-yellow flowers, though sometimes looks like blush. The fruits are round, red (or yellow when they ripe) and filled with red juicy seeds. It is a plant resistant to heat, drought and the lack of care, and easily adaptable to different types of soil.

One pomegranate daily…

The pomegranate is rich in vitamins (A, C, E, folic acid), iron, potassium and fiber, and is low in calories. In fact, a pomegranate covers 40% of the amount of vitamin C and 25% of folic acid that adults needs daily in their diet. It is rich in three different types of antioxidants (tannins, anthocyanins, ellagic acid) and the total antioxidant capacity is calculated to be 3.2 times more than that of red wine and green tea. In a recent scientific study, it was shown that the pomegranate and various berry varieties have stronger antioxidant activity in cellular level compared to 25 other fruits tested.

 

Full of benefits

With antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antitussive, astringent, healing and anti-diarrheal properties, the pomegranate juice was used therapeutically for centuries. Among other things, it prevents the oxidation of "bad" cholesterol (LDL), which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and appears to reduce the levels of total and "bad" cholesterol in diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia.

Protects against brain damages, reduces the blood pressure and there is evidence that long-term consumption improves sexual function of men with erection problems. In addition, it is considered to contribute to the prevention of skin cancer, breast and prostate, but also to inhibit their growth. It is used for the treatment of chronic diarrhea, dysentery and bleeding and for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Finally, the pomegranate cleans and protects the skin, it is used in the treatment of burns and the herpes virus and reduces wrinkles and ulcers.

All ways to benefit!

Except for the fresh pomegranate juice, there are additional ways to get the most of its healing and beneficial properties.

Make your own herb tea:
In 1 liter of boiled water, pour 1 cup of pomegranate peel and cook for 3 minutes. Wait for it to cool and then strain. You can drink one glass 10 minutes before meals for 15 days. The pomegranate contributes to the better function and improvement of the gastrointestinal system.

Indulge in mouthwashes & gargles:
The leaves of pomegranate are used, e.g. in cases of hemorrhoids after each emptying and for sore throats. In a cup of water put 8-10 leaves and cook for 10 minutes. Strain the mixture and use, in the first case, for cold washes ever night, as long as needed, and for warm gargles, in the second case, 2-3 times daily.

Instructions for «use»

The best way to collect them
There are three varieties of pomegranates: sweet, semi-sweet and sour. Regardless of the taste you like, prefer heavy pomegranates with shiny and tight skin. Of course, even when the peel shrinks, their inside part can be eaten.

The way to clean them
The cleaning of pomegranates requires little time and it is very easy. Cut the fruit circular, so that you remove the peel at the part of the stalk and chase to the bottom, without pressing too much the knife, exactly the same way that you do with an orange. Then cut the pomegranate in half and carefully remove the seeds.

The way to preserve them
You can keep the pomegranates a lot of days out of the fridge or stored in a dark place if hung with their branch. If you want to maintain them for several months, you can put them on the bottom of your refrigerator. To preserve them even more time, you can clean them and store them in the freezer wrapped in a special container or bag suitable for food. So, whenever you need seeds you can take the quantity that you want.

The best ways to get their juice
Apart from the seeds of pomegranates used in a wide range of recipes, the pomegranate juice is used the same way, as well. So there are two ways to get the juice from the fruit: either put the pomegranates in the squeezer the same way as you do with oranges, or press the fruit into a colander. In fact, unlike the first case, with the second way the membranes that separate the seeds stay in the strainer and so you avoid having a slightly astringent taste of your juice.

Nutritional Analysis per pomegranate (about 280g.)*

 

Energy 234 kcal
Proteins 4,71g
Fat 3,30g
Carbohydrates 52,73g
Dietary Fiber 11,3g
Calcium (Ca) 28mg
Iron (Fe) 0,85mg
Magnesium (Mg) 34mg
Phosphorus (P) 102mg
Potassium (K) 666mg
Sodium (Na) 8mg
Zinc (Zn) 0,99mg
Copper (Cu) 0,446mg
Selenium (Se) 1,4mcg
Vitamin C 28,8mg
Niacin (Vitamin Β3) 0,826mg
Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) 107mcg
Vitamin Ε 1,69mg
Vitamin Κ 46,2mcg
* Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 21 (2008)

 

 

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History

The pomegranate is a native tree in our country since ancient times. The fruit is of major significance and necessity in daily diet. There are several references for medicinal uses in traditional medicine and many beliefs.to-rodi-5 Included in the seven species of trees mentioned in the Bible and considered sacred fruit in all the dominant religions.

In Greek mythology it is connected with the goddesses Demeter, Aphrodite and Hera. According to the myth of Persephonea day when Persephone was gathering flowers along with the daughters of the Ocean, she bounces to the Underworld and so Hades captures her in his kingdom. So Persephone leaves violently from the arms of her mother Demeter - goddess of the land - that mourns the loss of her daughter leaving the land barren and fruitless. Hades, after the mediation of Jupiter, is forced to return Persephone, after giving her to taste four pomegranate seeds so that she forgets the top world. Since then, Persephone shares four months on the throne of the underworld and the others on the world on earth which thrives. From the bowels of the earth comes the revival, from the earth originates the wealth. A wonderful symbolism…

In addition, the pomegranate tree, according to Pausanias is connected with Hera, the patroness of marriage and eugenics, whose statue in Argos in gold and ivory was holding in one hand the scepter and the other a pomegranate.

According to another mythological version, the pomegranate tree was planted by Aphrodite in her sacred garden in Cyprus, symbolizing in this way the happy marriage, abundance due to the large number of red seeds and passion as sacred fruit of Venus.

Regarding the origin of pomegranate tree, the pomegranate or «apple of Carthage» by the Romans or Punica Granatum, such as its botanical name, probably derives from the fertile Mesopotamia where it began to be cultivated since at least 4000 BC. From there began its travel to the West and this is the reason why it is one of the first fruits systematically cultivated in the world. Arab traders brought it to Spain - according to one version even the city of Granada is named after the pomegranate - and from there the Spanish spread it in America.

 


 

The seed of pomegranate

The pomegranate is a symbol of fertility, prosperity, fruitfulness and good luck. For many centuries the New Year's Day tradition wants to welcome the New Year breaking a pomegranate on the door threshold for good luck. The pomegranate as an archetypal symbol also exists in the traditions of many ancient people that use to break pomegranates at weddings for fertility, prosperity and good luck to the newly married couple. In China it is customary to give a ceramic pomegranate as a wedding gift, while the Bedouins break pomegranates and throw them into the tent of the newlyweds for fertility. Moreover, the pomegranate - even when its external layer is dry, its inner seeds are full of juice - stands for and has been linked with both life and death.

Chemical Composition

The botanical name of the pomegranate is Punica granatum - Punica is the name of the ancient Phoenician city in northern Africa. There the Roman soldiers run-up to the first Phoenician war in the 3rd century BC and first saw the pomegranate. Granatum means “granular” and in English is called pomegranate because it looks like an apple with many fruits - seeds. The name came from the Latin word pomum, meaning apple and granatus that means "seed".

The Hebrew name of pomegranate (rimmon) and Arabic (rumman), derived from the words "fruit of paradise", revealing the high appreciation of the people in this fruit. The fruit of pomegranate consists of three basic parts and each part has its own botanical and chemical nature. These are the seeds or "epispermio", the juice and the rind. The fruit is rich in vitamins A, B, C and minerals: phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, silicon, sodium, sulfur, zinc, etc., it contains large amounts of selenium which is an anti-oxidant substance and it is also extremely low in calories.

Most of the chemical analysis of pomegranate juice has been focused on the juice, the pericarp and the oil from the seeds. The juice contains large quantities of hydrolytic tannins (gallic and ellagic acid), anthocyanins (cyanidin, delphinidin, pelargonidin), as well as phenolic acids (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid). The rind contains substances such as loutelini, quercetin, kempferoli and narizenini in large quantities.

Strong interest and attention was given particularly to the research of the seed (or kernel) of the pomegranate seeds and more specificly in the seed oil (seed is only the hard, white, inner seed, the red juicy space enclosing the seed is called epispermio). The oil from the seed contains approximately 60% punicic acid, an extremely strong anti-oxidant that is widely used in cosmetics for its conditioning, nutritional, refreshing, soothing and healing properties. The seeds of the pomegranate also contain the highest level of vegetal estrogen that reaches up to 17mg / kg of dry seeds. Interest is continuously growing on the perspective of pomegranate oil as a powerful plant estrogen and the possibility to have anti-cancer properties - in particular against breast cancer.

 


 

Medicinal & pharmaceutical properties

Medicinal & pharmaceutical properties

Anti-oxidant activity

The main anti-oxidants found in the fruit of the pomegranate are flavonoids (mainly anthocyanins), tannins and ellagic acid. Tannins give a bitter-sour taste in pomegranate juice, while anthocyanin gives the red color in the fruit. The anti-oxidant properties of pomegranate have strong effects in the treatment of atherosclerosis, hypertension and inflammation of the arteries & the heart. These properties are beneficial for the organism and protect the liver and kidneys against damages caused by free radicals and against bacteria.

Spectrometric studies proved that pomegranate juice contains more anti-oxidants, in comparison with 40 other different types of fruit juices considered as anti-oxidants like e.g. cranberry juice, orange juice, red wine, cranberry and green tea. The pomegranate juice is proven to have the significant activity to destroy the free radicals created in the body. In addition, the pomegranate juices in the market have an anti-oxidant effect equal to (18-20 TEAC) (where TEAC - measure of anti-oxidant activity) that is considered to be three times greater than that of red wine and green tea having (6-8 TEAC).

Professor Roger Corder, a leading cardiologist at William Harvey Research Institute in London, says that a glass of pomegranate juice is equivalent to two glasses of red wine, ten cups of green tea or four glasses of cranberry juice, regarding the content of anti-oxidants.

Anticancer activity

The rich content of pomegranate juice in polyphenols, specifically in Gallic acid, reinforce the belief of many researchers that the pomegranate has many anticancer effects (preventive, ant metastatic, anti-angiogenesis, etc.). Scientific research has shown that four chemical substances contained in the pomegranate juice, ellagic acid, caffeic acid, luteolin and punicic acid, appear to have inhibitory properties on tumor cell growth in vitro, in particular prostate cancer (PC-3). The pomegranate juice consumption has an important role in the reduction of the progress of prostate cancer. Studies on the effect of pomegranate juice on the treatment of colon cancer cells have shown very good results in amounts of 30-100%. According to recent study of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, pomegranate consumption may help reduce the growth and spread of cancer of the larynx cells, as well as the prevention of lung cancer.

The protective effect of polyphenols against cardiovascular diseases derives from the ability of these substances to inhibit the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol), that has been proven in vitro and in vivo, both in humans and animals. Regular consumption of pomegranate juice helps in the prevention of atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries and the appearance of high blood pressure, two very important factors for the development of cardiovascular problems. According to recent studies, pomegranate juice also helps the body to keep the levels of nitric acid at normal rates, maintaining thus the walls of blood vessels healthy and improving blood circulation, while controlling blood pressure.

 

Action against stomach ulcers

The infusion of the pomegranate’s rind has a positive effect against stomach ulcers which in several cases reaches up to 74%. It is also a medicine against dysentery, diarrhea, parasites of the peptic system etc. In traditional medicine, the concentrated decoction of the pomegranate’s rind has largely been used in the previous years against dysentery, the peptic microbes and diarrhea.

 

Anti-aging effects

The pomegranate seeds are widely used in anti-aging skin creams because of their high content in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Healing action on skin wounds

Great effect against arthritis

Antimicrobial activity

Pomegranate as a cosmetic

In India the pomegranate is used as one of the basic ingredients of traditional cosmetics. Nowadays, the use of pomegranate in the cosmetics industry has been established throughout the developed world, with the production of many kinds of cosmetics, mainly for two reasons: Their high content of antioxidants (polyphenols, tannins, flavonoids, anthocyanins) and the pigments that it contains. The most important ingredient which is of high value is the oil of the seeds and it is widely used in cosmetics. The pomegranate oil is produced by pressing the dried seeds in a special pressure washer. The oil of pomegranate accelerates the renewal of skin cells, the destruction of the free radicals, contributes strongly to skin elasticity & resilience and the reduction of wrinkles. The major cosmetics made from pomegranates are: makeup creams, oils for body care, skin and hair, lipstick, make-up remover creams etc.


Uses in Gastronomy

Pomegranates are preferably consumed fresh or as juice or as pomegranate syrup (grenadine) or as spirits after processing. They are also used in baking and cooking. The juice content of the fruits is approximately 60% of the weight of the fruit while the remains are the pericarp, the perispermia and the seeds (kernels).