By Adrienne Harden, R.D.
What’s seedy, sweet, and red all over? You guessed right. It’s pomegranates! Native to the region spanning from the Mediterranean to Northern India, pomegranate trees can also be found in the dry climates of Honduras, Mexico, the Southwest United States, and Hawaii. Peak harvest season varies by region, lasting from mid-fall to early winter in the United States. Similar to apples, pomegranates have a long storage life and under proper conditions can be kept for up to 7 months without spoiling. Although the entire fruit is technically edible, the sweet and juicy seeds (also known as arils) are the part of the fruit most commonly consumed. One pomegranate can hold over 600 seeds!
Pomegranates are a great source of fiber and contain a variety of beneficial nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and B vitamins. One cup of pomegranate seeds, for instance, contains about 18 mg of Vitamin C, or about 30 percent of the daily value. Research also supports the medicinal value of pomegranates. One study details several ways pomegranates aid in the prevention and treatment of certain disease conditions, including their role in fighting specific types of cancer. Pomegranates also contain many antioxidant properties, and one research analysis found antioxidant activity in pomegranate juice to be three times higher than in red wine or green tea. Interestingly, the study noted higher antioxidant power in juices made from the whole fruit rather than juices extracted from seeds only.
Cutting and de-seeding a pomegranate is not as intuitive as cutting an apple or orange and can be intimidating to those who are new to the fruit. Because of the thick outer rind and honeycomb-like membranous interior, it is best to cut off the crown, or pronged top, and then slice along the natural division of its outer ridges. Once the fruit is opened, push the seeds away from the pulp using your hands. Another helpful tip is to try separating the seeds from the membrane in a bowl of water, which allows the seeds to sink to the bottom while the rest of the interior floats to the top.
In addition to snacking on the seeds, there are many other delicious ways to enjoy this fruit. Here are some ideas below:
- Toss pomegranate seeds with your favorite greens, fruits, and nuts for a delicious fall salad.
- Brighten up roasted salmon by serving it topped with orange slices, pomegranate seeds, and fresh dill.
- For the perfect fall side dish, toss roasted brussels sprouts or green beans with fresh pomegranate seeds.
- Combine orange and pomegranate juices for a vitamin-rich, refreshing beverage.
- Liven up your breakfast by topping oatmeal with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds.