By Liliana Usvat
Origins and History
One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of Persia. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life.
Pomegranates are ruggedly attractive trees deeply rooted in human history. Grown in the Middle East since ancient times, Spanish settlers introduced this tree into Latin America and California in 1769.
They have been cultivated as a fruit crop plant as well as an ornamental tree. Mature specimens can develop sculptural twisted bark, multi-trunks, and a distinctive overall form.
Carbonized exocarp of the fruit has been identified in Early Bronze Age levels of Jericho in the West Bank, as well as Late Bronze Age levels of Hala Sultan Tekke on Cyprus and Tiryns. A large, dry pomegranate was found in the tomb of Djehuty, the butler of Queen Hatshepsut in Egypt.
According to the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical writings from around 1500 BC, Egyptians used the pomegranate for treatment of tapeworm and other infections.
Mesopotamian cuneiform records mention pomegranates from the mid-Third millennium BC onwards
Pomegranates were known in Ancient Israel as the fruits which the scouts brought to Moses to demonstrate the fertility of the “promised land”.
The Qur’an also mentions pomegranates three times (6:99, 6:141, 55:68) as examples of good things God creates.
Widely believed to have originated in Persia (modern-day Iran), the fruit is mentioned in ancient Babylonian texts, the Bible, the Homeric Hymns and the Quran. Pomegranates appear in Greek mythology, Egyptian papyrus, Tang Dynasty characters, and ancient Armenian texts.
The Greeks called pomegranates the “fruit of the dead,” relating to the story of Hades tricking Persephone into eating its seeds in order to keep her as his wife.
Ancient Egyptians saw the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity and ambition.
In Judaism, it symbolizes fruitfulness, and in Hinduism it represents prosperity and fertility.
Festivals – Pomegranate Festival
Annually in October, a cultural festival is held in Goychay, Azerbaijan known as Pomegranate Festival. The festival features Azerbaijani fruit-cuisine mainly the pomegranates from Goychay. At the festival, a parade is held with traditional Azerbaijani dances and Azerbaijani music.
Pomegranate in Art
King Solomon, in the Song of Songs, cites the fruit in one of the most famous love poems: “Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.”
Thanks to their all-religions symbolism, pomegranates can be found in artworks throughout the centuries. Famous paintings include Early Renaissance Italian painter Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna of the Pomegranate and French painter William-Adolphe Bouquereau’s Girl with a Pomegranate, 1875.
The name pomegranate derives from medieval Latin pomum “apple” and granatum “seeded”.
Although not native to Korea or Japan, the pomegranate is widely grown there and many cultivars have been developed. It is widely used for bonsai because of its flowers and for the unusual twisted bark that older specimens can attain. The term “balaustine” (Latin: balaustinus) is also used for a pomegranate-red color.
Pomegranates are used in cooking, baking, juices, smoothies, and alcoholic beverages. They are newly popular and more common in commercial markets of North America and the Western Hemisphere, because of the fruit’s healthful level of antioxidants.
Pomegranates are delicious and nutritious fruits that can be eaten fresh, canned, juiced, or made into a jam.
Pomegranates make dessert wine
Antioxidant Rich Smoothie
Serves: 2 Preparation Time: 5 minutes
8 cups organic baby spinach
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 cup blueberries, frozen
1 cup strawberries, frozen
8 dates, cut in half
2 tablespoons flaxseeds, ground
1/2 avocado, optional
Blend all ingredients together. This is delicious & very healthy!
- Most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits
- Potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects
- Inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that could cause heart attacks, strokes and embolic disease
- Lowers cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors
- Lowers blood pressure
- Shown to promote reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in human studies
- May have benefits to relieve or protect against depression and osteoporosis
- beneficial to diabetes patients.
- Chinese herbology cites pomegranate juice as a longevity treatment. And thanks to the pomegranate’s antioxidant extracts, modern science and the cosmetics industry agree that topical application of products containing the ruby red fruit can keep wrinkles at bay.
- Improves digestion: Pomegranate juice aids in the smooth functioning of the stomach, heart and liver. This juice induces hunger and can even control thirst. Therefore it is a great choice of drink during summers.
- It also soothes urinary tract infection and eases the flow of urine. The high amount of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble in pomegranate juice helps to improve digestion and regulate bowel movement.
- Since it has no saturated fats or cholesterol, it is highly recommended for those aiming to lose weight.
- Helps to heal scars: Pomegranate helps in the regeneration of cells in the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin. It has an ability to hasten the process of healing of wounds. Even the oil of pomegranate seeds is loaded with skin friendly nutrients which are beneficial for the strengthening and regeneration of the epidermis. It also protects the skin from sun burns and heals the damage caused to the skin due to constant exposure to the sun.
- Drinking pomegranate juice regularly helps strengthen the hair follicles which in turn prevent hair fall, thus giving the hair a healthy and lustrous appearance.
Research has shown that the juice of the pomegranate may be effective in reducing heart disease risk factors as well as systolic blood pressure. Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections. Pomegranate aril juice provides about 16% of an adult’s daily Vitamin C requirement and is also a good source of Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and natural phenols. Fiber and unsaturated oils are contained in the edible seeds.
Compounds found only in pomegranates called punicalagins are shown to benefit the heart and blood vessels.
Punicalagins are the major component responsible for pomegranate’s antioxidant and health benefits.
They not only lower cholesterol, but also lower blood pressure and increase the speed at which heart blockages (atherosclerosis) melt away.
Recent medical research studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages. They were given an ounce of pomegranate juice each day for a year. Not only did study participants’ blood pressure lower by over 12 percent, but there was a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque. Just as astounding, participants who did not take the pomegranate juice saw their atherosclerotic plaque increase by 9 percent.
TTFF is planting pomegranates as a source of food and drink, and to help bind the soil on Haiti’s deforested hillsides.
Seeding a pomegranate may seem like a lot of work for just a piece of fruit but think again. getting at those seeds may be well worth it. The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds.
Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.
Blog 92 -365
- Superfood: The Pomegranate is Sweet in More Ways Than One (organicauthority.com)
- Pomegranate Martini & Pomegranate Martini Recipe | Pottery Barn (potterybarn.com)
- Chocolate Pomegranate Seeds Recipe (food.com)
- Pomegranates: The Juicy Contest (thelocaldish.com)
- Buy A Beautiful Pomegranate (snack-girl.com)
- Pomegranate (sukmindar.wordpress.com)
- Benefits of Pomegranate (happyhealthy365.wordpress.com)
- The Pomegranate of Hades (written for class) (femdog.wordpress.com)
- I Love Poms Odwalla Strawberry Pomegranate Bars GIVEAWAY (momfluential.net)
- How to open a pomegranate.* (jackstrawlane.com)