Pomegranates are enjoying a resurgence in popularity around the globe, in part because they are nutritious as well as deserving of their reputation as a food to put you in the mood.
This time of year, Mediterranean landscapes display the ripening fruits of the fall harvest season. Few are as impressive as the grand dame of them all, the pomegranate. Native to Persia, endemic to the Middle East, and a central symbol to the Jewish New Year, pomegranates embody the essence of mythological and religious lore.
Few fruits besides the pomegranate have made such a lasting impression as a symbol of hope and eternal life. Jews recognize this ruby jewel as one of the first fruits of the autumn harvest season, and eat it during the high holidays. In Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the underworld is said to have seduced the goddess of fertility, Persephone, with pomegranate seeds. And while the apple usually takes the blame for humanity’s fall from grace, some biblical scholars have suggested that the forbidden fruit of the Bible wasn’t an apple, but the red beauty known as rimon in Hebrew.
Pomegranate seeds are delicious and nutritious (Please note, the roots and tree bark are considered herbal medicines too, but should only be administered by a trained professional). Rich in antioxidants, a 100-gram serving of the seeds provides a healthy boost from the B-vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B5, B6 and folate), vitamin C, dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. They also offer micronutrients such as polyphenols, specifically tannins and flavonoids.
This means that from Alzheimer’s disease to fertility to cancer prevention and cardiovascular health, pomegranates are rightly hailed as a mega go-to food both in conventional medical circles, as well as in ancient and holistic modalities. For example, the ancient Ayuvedic system uses pomegranate to treat diarrhea and intestinal parasites. The juice is astringent and a tonic for the heart and throat.
A woman’s fertility benefits from adequate levels of vitamin C and the B-vitamins, as does proper fetal development. A 100 ml serving of pomegranate juice provides up to 16% of an adults daily Vitamin C needs. Folate is particularly important to prevent certain birth defects, most notably fatal or debilitating neural tube deformities of the spinal cord.
Magnesium improves premenstrual symptoms, and zinc is critical for a man’s sexual performance.
Does this make them an aphrodisiac? The answer depends on our understanding of what an aphrodisiac is. For example, viewed from a cardiovascular or reproductive health point of view, the answer is affirmative. Foods that maintain and improve our heart health, necessary to enjoy the full range of sexual pleasures, particularly for men, are sex-positive edibles. A popular cookbook that helped launch our modern fascination with foods that help you go hump in the night, Intercourses, points out that aphrodisiacs don’t always work by increasing staying power or interest in sex; sometimes the suggestive nature of certain foods warms the hearth.
No matter what your thoughts are on the authenticity of aphrodisiacs, these ruby jewels of the Middle East add a colorful splash to many traditional Persian, Arabic, Jewish and Mediterranean dishes. Adorn your salads and rice dishes with the kernels, or use the juice to add zest to your dressings, beverages and sauces. (Greenprophet.com offers several pomegranate recipes for those who want to add some crimson color to their foods.) Here are simple instructions to deseed pomegranates, compliments of eatsomethingsexy.com:
Score the rind in several places and soak the fruit in a bowl of water. Then rip the flesh apart with your fingers and loosen the membranes, freeing the seeds into the bowl. Alternatively, break off a section of the whole, ripe fruit and tap the rind side with a spoon, coaxing the seeds to fly loose into an empty bowl.
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