Pomegranate and its distinctive ruby-red jewel-like seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
Stomach upsets, conjunctivitis and haemorrhoids are among the conditions the fruit was believed to cure. But it has only been in the past few years that health studies have revealed its full power. This Middle Eastern fruit is now known to combat heart disease, as well as containing three times as many cancer-fighting antioxidants as green tea.
It is believed to be particularly effective in warding off prostate cancer and, very possibly, breast cancer.
Pomegranates have effective antibacterial properties and have also been shown to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Pomegranates are a source of polyphenols, which help the body rid itself of cancer-causing agents; tannins, which lower blood pressure and stimulate the immune system; and anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation and protect blood vessels.
The fruit is rich in vitamins A, C and E, and in iron, which helps the blood maintain an effective supply of oxygen to the body. It is a good source of iron for pregnant women.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that reduces ageing in the brain, and may help prevent or slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Pomegranate has high levels of vitamin C, which is necessary for healthy skin, teeth, bones and connective tissue. It's a medium-calorie fruit, so that means about 105 per pomegranate, most of which come from fruit sugar.
One fruit, several times a week, would be a good starting point. This will count as one of your five a day and researchers in Israel and Britain are currently investigating how effective a glass of pomegranate juice a day is in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Best Eaten: The sweet-sourness of pomegranate is something of an acquired taste, and the way the seeds are embedded means that it's quite fiddly to eat. You can put all the seeds into a bowl and enjoy them by themselves or as part of a fruit salad. Alternatively, drinking the juice is a more convenient way of having it.
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