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5 Health Benefits of Pomegranate & How to Cook with it

 , NDTV  |  Updated: May 12, 2016 16:47 IST

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5 Health Benefits of Pomegranate & How to Cook with it
Here's a list of 5 pomegranate benefits and interesting ways to cook with pomegranate.

It's not just its ruby red colour or the crystal-like seeds that makes pomegranate special. It's also the tarty and sweet taste that you experience all at once. Also referred to as the 'fruit of paradise', pomegranate is known for its flavour as well as its notorious nature of leaving traces of red all over your clothes and across your chin if one is not attentive.

It is known to have originated in Iran and considered a symbol of prosperity and fertility in many cultures. In fact, it has been speculated that pomegranates and not apples grew in the Garden of Eden. Small, crunchy and juicy: they pack more health benefits than many other fruits and you'll be surprised at the kind of ailments they ward off.



The Benefits of Pomegranate



1. Anti-Oxidants - You may have heard these words over and over again so let us put this to rest once and for all. You need anti-oxidants! Your lifestyle, pollutants and a number of other factors encourage the circulation of harmful molecules in your body that are known as free radicals. Anti-oxidants are their kryptonite and they destroy these free radicals. Anti-oxidants are made up of vitamins and minerals and can be best obtained from a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables.

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2. Anti-Cancer - According a study done at the University of Maryland Medical Centre, pomegranate has the ability to inhibit the growth of certain kinds of cancer cells. A Mayo Clinic study also explores the possibility of pomegranate juice as a potential cure for prostate cancer.

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3. Heart Health - The anti-oxidants in pomegranate make it possible for the fruit to be able to help treat cardiovascular diseases. In fact, a 2015 study published in The Royal Society of Chemistry suggested that drinking pomegranate juice regularly could help prevent a heart attack.
 
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4. Good for the Skin - Pomegranates pack almost 48 per cent of your daily Vitamin C needs, which also helps against signs of ageing in the long run. It's extremely hydrating and its juice goes deep into your skin to deliver micronutrients and phytochemicals. It also helps bring dull and dry skin back to life.

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5. Diabetes -  There are a number of studies that will corroborate the fact that pomegranate juice is great for diabetic patients. It contains anti-diabetes compounds like ellagic, gallic, oleanolic, punicalagin, uallic, and ursolic acids. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research suggested that pomegranate juice can reduce blood glucose levels in Type 2 diabetes patients.

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How to Buy a Pomegranate



Pomegranates are pretty easy to find in India. They are mainly grown in Maharashtra through the year and are even exported to the UAE and the United Kingdom. While shopping for this sweet fruit, find one that's heavy for its size, a perfect sphere and free of blemishes. It should also be hard, with no soft spots. Don't worry too much about the colour as it doesn't impact the taste of the seeds. How to



De-Seed a Pomegranate: Like a Pro



There are a bunch of clever techniques that have been shared by chefs and food enthusiasts across the world. Jeff from the site foodwishes.com suggests you first cut the pomegranate in half and then hold it under cold water and pull the seeds apart. Martha Stewart places the stem end of the fruit at the bottom and then cuts the top of the crown making sure the knife doesn't touch any of the seeds. Then she sears through the skin of the fruit, from top to bottom, 3 or 4 times. Wriggle the knife a little and the fruit will break into a few smaller pieces. Release the seeds and drop them into a bowl. The one method I like best is by Evan Young where he scores the fruit from the sides instead of the centre, pulls it apart and then taps on the back of the fruit till all the seeds fall out. 



What to Cook with a Pomegranate



Small, crunchy and full of flavour, pomegranates add a fresh fruity note to whatever it's added to. Some of the common ingredients it's teamed up with in savoury dishes are pecan nuts, sweet potatoes, lamb, yoghurt, lettuce, corn, tomatoes and what not.



Talking about the sweet stuff, pair it with chocolate, whipped cream, strawberries, green apples etc. Here are five of the most creative, unique and gorgeous recipes that use pomegranate as the hero and create something magical.



1. Pomegranate Bark - If you're in the mood for chocolate and pomegranate then this is one recipe you'll want to bookmark. It's from the site rawmanda.com and was shared by Amanda, a food blogger that focuses on vegan food. Grab 2/3 cups of cacao powder, 1/2 cup of maple syrup, 1/3 cup of coconut oil, 1 or 2 pomegranates de-seeded and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Now, add the first three ingredient to a bowl and mix well till you have uniform consistency.

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Image Credits: rawmanda.com

Pour the mix on a parchment paper laid out on a baking tray. Now drop the pomegranate seeds on the mix evenly. Push down gently. Sprinkle with sea salt and leave the tray in the freezer for 20 minutes. Break the chocolate sheet apart face down do that the juice of the seeds doesn't splash all over your clothes.



2. Pomegranate Jelly - The first thing you need to know about this beautiful jelly is that it's extremely easy. And like jam, it can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks. Also, once you pick up this recipe you'll be able to replicate it with just about any other fruit. This recipe was shared by Anthelme Brillat-Savarin on her blog rx4foodies.

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Squeeze out 5 1/4 cups of fresh pomegranate juice, grab 3 tablespoons of powdered pectin, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 2 cups sugar. (Read the rest of the recipe here)



3. Pomegranate Margarita - It's pink, bold and just the thing you'd want on a Friday night. The sweetness of the pomegranate cuts through the sharp taste of tequila and the crunchy pomegranate seeds make you feel fresher than ever. This Take 2 shots of silver tequila (any tequila really), 2 shots of fresh pomegranate juice, 1/2 shot of triple sec, juice from one lime, ice, pomegranate seeds, sugar for the rim and lime wedge to garnish.

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Image Credits: soletshangout.com

Moisten the edge of your glass with the lime wedge. Put some sugar on a plate and press the top of the glass on it so that the sugar sticks to the rim. In a shaker, add the tequila, juice, triple sec and lime juice. Shake well, pour into the glass with the sugar around the rim, add some pomegranate seeds and serve.



4. Smoked Quail with a Pomegranate Reduction - Don't let the name of this recipe intimidate you because all it needs is 45 minutes. The smoky flavour of the quail comes together with a sweet and sour pomegranate reduction, crunchy macadamia nuts, firm cherry tomatoes and some fresh oregano- it all sounds just so divine! (Get the recipe here)



5. Pomegranate Truffle - These decadent balls of heaven are spongy, soft and melt as soon as they hit the tip of your tongue. The recipe is from amyshealthybaking.com and requires 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, 1.2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce, 3 tablespoons of honey, 1/4 vanilla extract and a pomegranate. In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder, maple sauce, honey and vanilla extract. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least two hours or upto a day. Divide the mix into small balls, flatten them out and stuff with pomegranate seeds, roll them back into a ball and chill.

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Image Credits: Amy's Healthy Baking


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