Pomegranates seem to be the darling of the anti-aging community. New stories appear almost every day touting the health benefits of this large red fruit native to Iran and northern India. Sure the dark red arils or edible seeds of the pithy fruit are tart and tasty, but do they deserve all the hype they’re getting? I think so. I’ve found some compelling research and recommendations by trusted sources telling me how pomegranates can help prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and risk of heart disease, and even fight dental plaque.
So breaking through the leathery outer skin of the pomegranate is worth the trouble. I peel it and pull it apart under water so that the juice that inevitably comes out of the broken arils doesn’t stain my clothes or my countertop. The pulpy white pith floats to the top of my bowl of water while the arils sink to the bottom. I continue breaking apart the fruit until I have released all of the powerful dark red seeds. I throw away the peel and the pith, but I eat the seeds out of hand or toss them into fruit salads for a pop of color and a tangy bite.
That dark red color is an indication of anthocyanins, an antioxidant that’s been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Anthocyanins also improve the function of our capillaries, therefore delivering blood and oxygen to every possible part of our body. Pomegranates are incredibly bountiful when it comes to these antioxidants that are also found in grapes, red wine, and cranberries. In his book, The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth, Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S. says “Pomegranate juice may just turn out to be one of the great natural weapons against heart disease.”
Health advisor, Dr. Andrew Weil cites two studies on cancer research and pomegranate juice (one from UCLA published in the July 2006 issue of Clinical Cancer Research, and one conducted at the University of Wisconsin) when he writes, “Pomegranate juice may turn out to be very useful in the treatment of prostate cancer and, perhaps, its prevention, as well.”
WebMD Health News said about pomegranates: “Pomegranate juice has been touted for years as having many health benefits, and now a new study says it can ward off a number of complications in kidney disease patients on dialysis.” It seems the antioxidants in pomegranate juice reduced inflammation and damage caused by free radicals.
Prevention Magazine noted that the pomegranate “is one potent protector that is worth smiling about—because polyphenol-packed pomegranate juice can kill the S. mutans bacteria, a main cause of cavities, found Pace University researchers.”
Pomegranates are in season during fall and winter and they deserve a place on every holiday table because of their beautiful color and cranberry-like flavor.
The pomegranate seeds add a spectacular, tart crunch to this otherwise mild avocado dip. The blue corn chips I serve it with add a splash of color and are also higher in antioxidants than the standard yellow chips. Tip: peel and seed the pomegranates underwater so as not to stain your clothes or the countertop. The white pith will float while the seeds sink to the bottom.
Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats, which protect help to the skin from the aging effects of the sun.
Avocado Dip with Pomegranate Seeds
3 cups diced avocado (from 2 large avocados)
3 Tbsp. lemon juice or lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt, or to your taste
1/2 tsp. pepper, or to your taste
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced jalapeno, seeded if desired
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 cup pomegranate arils, from one ripe pomegranate
1. Mash the avocado together with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
2. Fold in remaining ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips
Yields 4 cups