Healthy ingredients: Powerful pomegranates

Pomegranates, often called 'Chinese apples' are one of the world's most popular fruits, and have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. They're said to be effective against inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease and some cancers. Pomegranate's distinctive jewel-like seeds look stunning sprinkled over salads or on porridge and the fruit and its juice are excellent sources of fibre, vitamins A, C and E, iron and of course, antioxidants.

Health benefits

Considered a superfood because of their antioxidant content, a single pomegranate contains 40% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, and is rich in polyphenols. In fact, pomegranates contain more of every type of antioxidant than any other fruit (1) which protects the body's cells, reduces signs of ageing, lowers inflammation and can protect your body's tissues and organs.

A study carried out in 2006 showed that men with recurring prostate cancer who drank a 227ml glass of pomegranate juice daily saw a significant reduction in the progress of their cancer. There's also evidence to suggest that pomegranate juice could reduce your risk of heart attack. A small study carried out in 2005 on 45 patients suffering from coronary heart disease revealed that drinking 238ml of pomegranate juice daily reduced heart attack risk and improved blood flow to the heart over a three month period (2).

Enjoying pomegranates

The 'arils' of the pomegranate, or the jewelled seeds, are the part you'll want to enjoy, and they can be eaten as a snack or sprinkled over a variety of dishes. To remove the edible parts of the pomegranate, cut off the crown and cut the fruit into sections. Place each section in a bowl of water and roll out the arils with your finger, discarding the other parts. Drain away the water and enjoy!

Pomegranate recipes

Pomegranates are pretty versatile, whether you can't get enough of the juice in your smoothies or prefer to add the seeds to your salads and other dishes. Here are some healthy recipes to inspire you to use these Middle-Eastern fruits in your cooking.

Winter Salad with Butternut Squash and Pomegranate Vinaigrette

The juicy sweetness of pomegranate is perfect in salad dressings. With radicchio, frisee, walnuts and butternut squash, this recipe calls for you to make your own pomegranate syrup - although you can pick this up at specialist stores. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months, so you'll be able to make this salad again and again!

Pomegranate-Glazed Turkey with Roasted Fennel

Fennel is an under-rated vegetable with a sweet, aniseed flavour that's at its best when roasted! The pomegranate sauce made with fresh juice and bright pomegranate seeds turn this turkey dish into something special - high in protein and loaded with tryptophan for a great night's sleep!

Hibiscus and Pomegranate Iced Tea

With the hot weather approaching, you want something refreshing to cool you down after your run or gym session! Forget ready-bottled iced tea which is packed with sugar and additives. This version uses hibiscus tea, pomegranate juice, water and lemon for a fresh, sweet flavour that's great for summer days!

Spicy Onion Jam

Great served in sandwiches, with crostini as a snack or even with steak or grilled chicken for a high-protein option, this spicy onion and sweet pomegranate jam also makes a great home-made gift!

Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie

This is just one of the healthiest smoothies around, loaded with vitamin C from the blueberries, kale and pomegranate! If you use a frozen banana, you'll get a more slushy texture that's really refreshing in the hot weather - great for after a morning run or for a healthy breakfast!

Cauliflower Soup with Pomegranate and Coriander

This spicy Moroccan soup is perfect for a healthy lunch at work or to cook to impress your friends. Garnish it wth pomegranate jewels and some fresh coriander - make a big batch as it freezes well!

Greek Yoghurt with Pomegranate and Cinnamon

Great for those days when you want a healthy breakfast but don't have much time to prepare one, you can throw the ingredients together in a matter of minutes - you could even spoon this into a mason jar and take to work! Greek Yoghurt is high in protein, and add some toasted pecans, honey, cinnamon and pomegranate seeds and you have yourself a vitamin C-packed, healthy yet delicious breakfast; it also works great as an easy, light dessert!

Chicken Tagine with Pomegranate Tabbouleh

Pomegranate seeds are quite literally the jewels in this spicy, nutty cous cous which complements this Moroccan chicken tagine perfectly. This dish takes a while to prepare, so it's great for those days when you're not so busy. Keep the leftovers (and avoid food waste) as they're perfect for lunch the next day or dinner.

READ THIS NEXT: Try the super-fruit A-list for better health today

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Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 28th Apr 2015 at 15:44

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