Monday, November 22, 2010

Pomegranates: The sweet way to help protect your heart


Juicy, seedy and absolutely delicious, pomegranates are one of the most popular fruits possessing a wealth of health benefits. It has a long history, having been first grown in Asia and over time in California, US and Mediterranean countries.

Besides being sweet, succulent fruit, pomegranates have many healthy properties:

They are full of antioxidants! Pomegranates contain polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins – all beneficial antioxidants. When it’s squeezed into a refreshing juice, it normally contains high levels of antioxidants – higher than most other fruit juices like orange and grape, and even green tea! The beneficial compounds in this fruit, as well as its vitamins A and C content may help protect the body from breast and lung cancer, heart disease, premature aging, and Alzheimer's disease.

They help prevent heart disease: Studies demonstrating the beneficial effect of pomegranates on cardiovascular health suggest that pomegranates can help reduce “bad” cholesterol levels while having a beneficial effect on “good” cholesterol levels. Recent research has also suggested that drinking about 50ml of pomegranate juice per day lowers systolic blood pressure by as much as five percent.

Additionally, new investigations indicate that:Drinking a small cup (180 ml) of pomegranate juice per day for three months may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition that leads to thickening of arteries. Pomegranates also help prevent plaque from building up in the arteries.

Pomegranates… low in calories and packed with nutrition: Did you know that 1 medium Pomegranate contains only 100 calories? As surprising as it is, it fits perfectly into a diet plan as it offers a wealth of healthy antioxidants, in addition to being low in calories. And it can also help you feel full because of its fibre content (when eaten as a whole fruit). Pomegranates are also a good source of potassium, which helps lower Blood Pressure, and Vitamin C which plays an important role in fighting infections and boosting your immune system.

The seeds have a higher nutritional value! In contrast to the juice, Pomegranate seeds are rich in fibre and therefore healthier for your digestive system. You can enjoy it plain, sprinkled on salads or an appetizer (like mutabbal), or with your fruit salad. And as with any other fruit, the sooner you eat or drink it after peeling or squeezing, the more vitamins and antioxidants you will ingest. This is because oxygen, light and time affect the amount of nutrients it contains.

Good to know: Pomegranates can stain your clothes, so be sure to wear an apron or clothing when peeling it!

How to chose your Pomegranates and store them properly?

Select fruit heavy and brightly coloured with blemish-free skin. The best part is that you can refrigerate whole pomegranates for up to two months! For added convenience, you can pack pomegranate seeds in an airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to three months.

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