This article was published as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.
[Tip: Soak your fingers in a little white vinegar after eating pomegranates. The vinegar will turn a pretty pink and your fingers will be pristine again!]
No, I don’t have dirty fingernails, and I haven’t been dying wool, as one client guessed. I’ve been eating pomegranates. Lots of them, while I can, because they are only available from October through February. Pomegranates are beautiful, delicious, and one of the healthiest fruits you can eat.
There have been disputes in the past few years about the claims made by a certain juice manufacturer, and having looked at the research, they uhhh… may have exaggerated based on limited results of a very small study.
However, the potential benefits of pomegranates for breast cancer and prostate health are pretty solid, and pomegranates also have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Pomegranates, like red grapes and wine, are high in resveratrol, and rich in anthocyanins, like blueberries and acai. Anthocyanins may be protective against inflammation and all its ills, including cancer, heart disease and aging of the brain. Pomegranates also support healthy lipid levels and resistance to infection through suppressing bacterial and fungal growth.
But none of that is really why I eat pomegranates. I just love them. The vibrant ruby color, the tart sweet juicy flavor, the ritual of cutting the fruit open and removing the seeds all enchant me. Some foods just demand that you slow down and savor their pleasures.
The best pomegranates I ever had were in Egypt, where they are native, and cheap. My daughter lived in Cairo for a year, and we brought them home by the bag from the local market for just pennies a piece. In India, I had them after yoga practice, along with coconut and other fresh fruits, with a big steaming cup of fresh ginger tea. Here you’ll find them in your local supermarket. Look for bright red ones that are firm, but neither hard nor mushy.
Don’t be intimidated by that tough exterior, and don’t let lack of familiarity keep you from this nutritional gem. Check youtube for how-to videos. You’re going to get benefits from fresh pomegranates that you can’t get from pasteurized, fiber-less juice.
Until February, I will be treating myself to a few fresh pomegranates a week, so don’t be surprised if when you see me next, my fingers have turned ruby red. It’s my winter badge of health!