Fall brings the arrival of one of my favorite fruits: pomegranate. When the round red fruits start popping up in my grocery store I buy a few and take my time enjoying the sweet juicy seeds inside. I like to eat sweet pomegranates plain, juice them, or use the fruit in savory pan sauces and salads (see two of my favorite recipes below).
My habit of indulging in pomegranates this time of year is easily justified by research that suggests pomegranates are just as healthy as they are beautiful and tasty.
I learned about some of pomegranate's many health benefits when I read an article by one of our contributors, Joyce Hendley, in the December issue of EatingWell Magazine. Here are some of the highlights:
- Most studies link pomegranate's benefits to its powerful punch of polyphenols-including anthocyanins (found in blue, purple and deep-red foods) and tannins (also found in wine and tea). In a study published earlier this year, researchers found that compared with other antioxidant-rich beverages including blueberry juice, cranberry juice and red wine, "pomegranate [juice] naturally has the highest antioxidant capacity," reports David Heber, M.D. Ph.D., study collaborator and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.
- Research suggests the fruit has benefits for the heart: studies have shown it may help to reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries and lower blood pressure.
- Still more preliminary studies hint that pomegranate juice may help manage diabetes.
Drinking a cup a day of 100 percent pomegranate juice delivers plenty of antioxidants that may provide health benefits. Check with your doctor first, however, as pomegranate juice may interact with some medications, including statins. Don't forget fresh pomegranates-in season now. Although you don't get as many tannins eating the seeds as drinking the juice, you will get a bit of fiber and abundant punicic acid, a polyunsaturated heart-healthy oil.
Try pomegranates in these delicious EatingWell recipes:
Pomegranate-Glazed Turkey with Roasted Fennel Winter Fruit Salad: Fruit salad isn't just for summer; orange, grapefruit, pineapple, star fruit and pomegranate combine for a satisfying dish.
Pomegranate-Glazed Turkey with Roasted Fennel (pictured here): For a simple yet elegant dish, add a rich pomegranate pan sauce to turkey cutlets paired with roasted fennel. Then garnish with jewel-like pomegranate seeds.
4 medium fennel bulbs, cored and thickly sliced
5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 1 sprig
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
4 turkey cutlets, 1/4 inch thick (1 pound)
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Toss fennel, 3 teaspoons oil, chopped thyme and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring twice, until tender and golden, about 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of turkey with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook until browned, 1 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
4. Add pomegranate juice and thyme sprig to the pan; bring to a boil. Boil, stirring often, until reduced to 1/4 cup, 6 to 10 minutes. Discard the thyme. Whisk together broth (or water) and cornstarch; add to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 15 seconds. Reduce heat to medium, return the turkey and any accumulated juices to the pan, turning to coat with sauce, and cook for 1 minute. To serve, top roasted fennel with turkey and sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 287 calories; 7 g fat (0 g sat, 3 g mono); 45 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 7 g fiber; 513 mg sodium; 1,077 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (45% daily value), Potassium (31% dv), Iron (20% dv).
By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as an associate editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.
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