Pomegranates and their ruby-like seeds are one of the fruits that define the Middle East, or at least the Levante side of the Middle East. Even though suspect pomegranate seeds were traced to an outbreak of hepatitis this past summer in the United States (organic fruit at that!), we have to let bygones by bygones.
Not just at New Year time, but all year time. Read on why.
Did you know that pomegranates seeds actually symbolize the new year in Turkey? Some people smash them on the ground at weddings and at new years to celebrate.
Did you also know that pomegranates are so packed with vitamin C and antioxidants that the fruit is believed to stave off heart disease, arthritis and some cancers? Researchers from the Technion in Israel have found that eating pomegranates while taking statins may significantly reduce cholesterol levels and hinder oxidation of cholesterol in blood and cells. In short: Eating them could prevent you from suffering a heart attack or stroke.
This is what Professor Michael Aviram and his research team discovered.
Their research was published in January 2014 in the scientific journal Atherosclerosis, and its findings show that the combination of statin and pomegranate concentrate helps delay risk factors affecting the onset of atherosclerosis and its consequences – heart attack or stroke.
The leading risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis (the formation of cholesterol deposits in artery walls that can block blood flowing to the heart and brain) and its outcome – heart attack or stroke, involve both the quantity and the quality of blood cholesterol.
“Our job is to provide treatment to lower blood cholesterol levels and to delay cholesterol oxidation,” explains Aviram. “Although statin therapy effectively lowers cholesterol levels in patients diagnosed with heart and cardiovascular diseases, it has only modest effect on curbing oxidation. Moreover, high doses of statins can lead to side-effects – involving primarily significant muscle pain. We are looking to find a treatment without unwanted side-effects,” Aviram said. Pomegranates seem to be able to do the job, they report.
Some researchers have found that it is also an aphrodisiac. Eve’s secret weapon?
The pomegranate fruit, which is traced to Iran some 5,000 years ago, may be the fruit of temptation from the Garden of Eden mentioned in the Bible. I have a pomegranate tree in my yard in Israel, and every year around the Jewish New Year in the fall, the fruit is ripe for the picking. Jewish people use the fruit as a decorative item on the Rosh Hashanna table: it symbolizes mitzvot or good deeds for the year to come. (Read: 4 Reasons To Eat Pomegranates on The Jewish New Year.)
The seeds can be boiled down to use as a molasses in sauces or just tossed into salads as they are. Kids love to eat the seeds and picking them out requires great hand-eye coordination. A wonderful job for a toddler to test out her dexterity as you prepare the meal. Just be ready for a messy face and fingers.
Your body will thank you.
Recipes for pomegranate lovers:
Lamb kebabs marinated in pomegranate molasses
Almond torte with pomegranate molasses
How to make pomegranate mollases
Fesenjan, Persian Chicken in Walnut Sauce
Image of pomegranate face from Shutterstock