With its red and juicy seeds, the pomegranate is a fruit that brings joy even in the grayest autumn days. The juice obtained from the pomegranate is certainly one of the best known and most appreciated drinks, it can be purchased almost everywhere, in supermarkets and specialty shops, and is characterized by a powerful antioxidant action. However, often at the greengrocer we find the whole pomegranate fruit, what are its properties? And how can it be used in the kitchen? Let's try to understand better!
Pomegranate, the whole fruit
The pomegranate is the fruit of the pomegranate tree, scientific name Punica granatum. This fruit is a berry that contains several hundred seeds surrounded by pulp, called aril, with a color ranging from pink to red. These grains in turn are surrounded by a yellowish white pulp with an astringent action and rich in phenols, which are antioxidant substances, and minerals (Kandylis et al, Foods, 2020). When we buy a pomegranate the part we generally consume are the grains, that is, the seeds surrounded by the red pulp.
Pomegranate, properties of the grains
The pomegranate grains fight free radicals, with antioxidant properties much higher than that of red wine and green tea, they are anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective thanks to the substances contained in them such as anthocyanins (Rahimi et al, Iran J Pharm Res, 2012 - Bar Yaakov et al, Front Plant Sci, 2019). But pomegranate grains are also a source of pectin, vitamins, including vitamin C, sugars and polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as punicic, linolenic and linoleic acids, very important for heart health (Li et al, Nutrients, 2018). In fact, punicic acid, which is the fatty acid most present in pomegranate grains, is a powerful antiatherogenic, that is, capable of reducing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, and useful to reduce triglycerides. Not only that, punicic acid also acts against neuroinflammation, a condition that, in the long term, could pave the way for brain degeneration (Zarfeshany et al, Adv Biomed Res, 2014 - Rackova et al, Int J Vitam Nutr Res, 2014 ). Other substances contained in pomegranate grains are isoflavones, such as ginestein, which help improve glucose metabolism, control some symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and osteoporosis, and also have a proven antitumor action since they induce apoptosis, namely the programmed death, of diseased cells. In fact, it is shown that the oil contained in pomegranate seeds has a powerful antitumor action, preventing up to 90% of the proliferation of some breast cancer cell lines (Zarfeshany et al, Adv Biomed Res, 2014 - Jeune et al, J Med Food, 2005). Finally, pomegranate grains also contain particular substances, called ellagitannins, which perform a prebiotic action on the intestinal microbiota, supporting the good bacteria of the bacterial flora with benefits for the whole organism, including the immune system (Kandylis et al, Foods , 2020).
Pomegranate, how to deseed it
With a small knife cut the peel of the pomegranate into wedges. Gently, with your hands, separate the wedges and deseed the fruit, again manually. You can store the grains in a closed jar that should be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. Do not throw away all of the inner white part of the pomegranate. If some parts of the white peel mixes with the seeds, then it is even better! In fact, as highlighted by various scientific researches, if we completely eliminate this part, this would impoverish the final product of various phenols with antioxidant action, such as gallic and ellagic acid. When preparing homemade pomegranate juices, or also when deseeding the fruit at home, generally only the grains are selected, and therefore there is the risk of losing many of these precious substances that are instead present in industrial juices prepared starting from the whole fruit ( Syed et al, Anticancer Agents Med Chem, 2013).
Pomegranate, uses in the kitchen
Once you have deseeded the pomegranate you can add a teaspoon of its precious seeds to the morning plant based yogurt, or you can enrich the fruit salads. For example, the winter fruit salad prepared with fresh and dried fruit is excellent, you can find the recipe in the Healthy Food section. And don’t forget vegetable salads! For example, you can serve as a tasty appetizer a dish prepared with an apple cut into pieces, pomegranate grains, green salad, valerian and walnuts, season with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and here is an exquisite and healthy recipe!