Thursday, 22 January 2015

Pomegranates - the world’s oldest super-food?

Pomegranates are one of the oldest fruits in existence found in many ancient writings and paintings, frequently used in middle eastern medicine as a preventative measure and to actively treat illnesses. They are currently in season, and for those still sticking to their New Years resolution of weight loss or healthier eating, they are packed full of nutrients and very versatile making great additions to both sweet and savoury dishes.

So what are the health benefits with regards to nutritional content?
  • Excellent source of dietary fibre
  • Vitamin A - promotes good vision, healthy immune system and cell growth
  • Vitamin C - promotes a healthy immune system
  • Vitamin E - maintains cell structure by protecting cell membranes
  • Iron - promotes healthy blood, prevents anaemia and fatigue
  • Rich in antioxidants - aids in preventing cancers, heart disease and many more

Clinical evidence proving it’s benefits in treating diseases comorbidities such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels etc., is extensive, yet still needs to be further examined, but here’s what has been proven so far;

Prostate cancer - A study carried out in 2006 showed that drinking a small 277ml glass of pomegranate juice per day significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer in men with recurrent prostate cancer.

Carotid artery stenosis - A study carried out in 2004 showed that a daily glass of 50ml of pomegranate juice over three years reduced the damage caused by cholesterol almost in half, and also cut cholesterol build up.

Heart disease - A study carried out in 2005 demonstrated that a daily drink of 238ml of pomegranate juice administered over three months resulted in improved blood flow to the heart and around the body reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks.

As is tradition, here are a few of my favourite recipes for using pomegranates. Tip: buy pomegranates whole, you will get more for your money, they are very easy to get the seeds from once ripe, as the video shows below.

Grilled Lamb with Wintry Rice Salad

2 red onions
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tbpsn olive oil
400g lean lamb steaks
140g wild rice
handful mint, chopped
handful parsley, chopped
120g fresh pomegranate seeds
50g chopped pistachios
50g dried cranberries
juice ½ orange
juice ½ lemon

  1. Grate one onion into a shallow dish, mix in cinnamon and olive oil and rub into the lamb steaks, cover and set aside whilst you make the rice.
  2. Place the rice and 600ml of water in a pan, bring to the boil, then simmer until all the water has evaporated (around 20 minutes). Mix in the remaining red onion, herbs, pomegranates, pistachios, cranberries and lemon and orange juice.
  3. Remove the lamb from the marinade and cook in a griddle pan for about five minutes on each side depending on how you like your meat cooked and serve with a big spoonful of rice. Yum!

Hot Smoked Salmon, Lentil and Pomegranate Salad

2 tbspn olive oil
juice ½ lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbspn roughly chopped tarragon
1 tspn honey
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
400g can puy lentils, rinsed and drained
140g hot smoked salmon
20g flat leaf parsley leaves
1 pomegranate seeds removed
Toasted pitta bread to serve

  1. Combine the olive oil, lemon, garlic clove, tarragon and honey together in a bowl. Toss in the red onions and lentils and leave to marinade for ten minutes.
  2. Break the salmon into large flakes and fold into the salad with the pomegranates and parsley, serve with toasted pitta.