Health Reasons to Love Pomegranates

Move over, blueberries, pomegranates are the new superfood in town. Pomegranates (mainly in the form of pomegranate juice) have gotten some buzz for a while — and with good reason. Pomegranate juice is a powerful source of antioxidants linked to lowered cholesterol and a slower growth of prostate cancer. But I’m a big fan of the whole fruit, which adds beautiful ruby gems to whatever dish you choose and offers a host of health benefits.

First, you might be wondering how to actually get those jewel-colored seeds — which are technically called arils — out of the pomegranate. It’s simpler than it seems. Just thwack the skin side of the pomegranate several times with a wooden spoon so the seeds fall into a ball. (Alternately, you can cut the pomegranate in sections and pull the clumped-together arils into a bowl of water — the arils will sink to the bottom and the white membrane will float to the top.)

Now for the additional nutrition info. Half a cup of arils (a little less than a third of a pomegranate) has 72 calories and 3 grams of fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamins C and K, plus has a smattering of other vitamins and minerals. Arils also take a while to eat, as the crunchy seeds within the tart, juicy arils slow down your pace. But perhaps a pomegranate’s most-notable feature is that it’s a powerful source of antioxidants, signified by its vibrant color.

My favorite, and simple, way to eat pomegranate seeds is to scatter them over a bowl of honey Greek yogurt, but they’re also a great addition to other recipes. Here are some to try:

Pomegranate Raita: This is a lovely addition to an Indian meal.

Pomegranate Quinoa Pilaf (pictured): This super-healthy side dish is pretty too.

Fesenjon: This Persian stew is one of my favorite ways to enjoy pomegranates. The flavor is unusual (but somehow universally appealing), and it’s a perfect dish for a cold day.

Kerri-Ann is a registered dietitian and nutrition coach who writes on food and health trends. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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