Health benefits — The pomp of pomegranate

Health benefits — The pomp of pomegranate

This superfood has incredible benefits for the body and may lower the risk of many diseases.
25 Oct, 2015

Fairly nondescript on the outside, the inside is loaded with juicy scarlet-red coloured arils (seed pod) artfully arranged, using thin white membranes as dividing sheets. There is something both exquisite and majestic about the sweet and sour tasting pomegranate.

The ancient city of Granada in Spain agrees with this; an open pomegranate is the official symbol of La Granada, which was once known as Garnatah and was the last stronghold of the Muslim rule in Spain. Granada is, in fact, the Spanish word for pomegranate and the fruit grew abundantly in the region.

In 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella conquered the city, they considered it to be such a significant milestone that a pomegranate was added to their coat of arms.

It is even said that after conquering Garnatah, Queen Isabella stood with a pomegranate in her hand and declared,

“Just like the pomegranate, I will take over Andalusia seed by seed.”

Pomegranates are not so easy to eat but they are both delicious and nutritious. There are many ways to enjoy this heavenly fruit which is native to the Middle East particularly Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

The Persian cuisine is perhaps the best known for its extensive use of pomegranate. Ash-i-Anar is a vibrantly coloured hearty soup comprised of pomegranate juice, lentils, meatballs, mint and various spices. Pomegranate syrup and crushed walnuts are stewed with pieces of chicken to create the rich and tangy stew Khoresht Fesenjan. Dried arils known as anardana are used as a spice in Iran, as well as in Pakistan.

In Palestine, aside from being enjoyed as a fruit, pomegranate seeds are found in salads and as garnish for desserts. In Turkey, pomegranate sauce is used as a salad dressing and to marinate meat. Pomegranate syrup is also used to make muhammara, a roasted red pepper, walnut and garlic spread which is popular in both Turkey and Syria.

There is something both exquisite and majestic about the sweet and sour tasting pomegranate. —
There is something both exquisite and majestic about the sweet and sour tasting pomegranate. —

Both countries also use arils to make trail mix, granola bars and salads, in addition to sprinkling them on yogurt and ice cream. Even neighbouring Greece uses the tempting fruit to make kolliva, a mixture of wheat, pomegranate arils, sugar, almonds and other seeds to be served at memorial services. And kollivozoumi, a creamy broth made from boiled wheat, arils and raisins.

Meanwhile in Azerbaijan a sauce from pomegranate juice known as narsharab is usually served with fish and kebabs. And pomegranate juice, which has long been a popular drink in our region, is now widely available in many parts of Europe and North America.

Nutritionists consider the pomegranate to be a super food.

They are low in calories but loaded with vitamin C, vitamin B5, potassium, and fibre. The white pips and the thin outer skin are edible and actually the part of the fruit that is loaded with fibre and also rich with antioxidant and antibacterial properties.

According to one Prophetic (PBUH) tradition, eating pomegranates is a great way to strengthen the digestive system. Below are some delicious ways to enjoy this celebrated fruit.

Pomegranate Salsa


2 1/2 cups arils
1 1/3 cup diced cucumber
1 - 3 jalapeños, seeds removed and minced
1/4 - 1/3 cup finely chopped
1/3 cup diced red onion
squeeze of half a lime


Combine all of the prepared ingredients in a bowl, starting with using only 1 jalapeño. Stir to combine. Test for heat preference and add additional jalapeño if desired.

Pomegranate Salad


4 cups arils
2 crunchy pears, chopped
3 crispy apples, chopped
1 cup walnuts, lightly crushed
pinch of salt
2 limes (1/2 cup juice)
1½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
10 mint leaves, chopped


Place arils in a large bowl. Add the pears and apples and mix together. Sprinkle the walnuts and salt on top.

To make the dressing whisk together the lime juice, honey, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, and mint until smooth. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix together.

Store in the fridge until ready to serve. If the apples begin to brown, squeeze more lime juice on them.

Pomegranate Olive Oil Cake


¾ cup arils
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
4 whole eggs, room temperature
1 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 lemon, zested and juice strained
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1–2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown (or raw) sugar


Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour the bottom and inside of the cake pan. Sift together flour and baking powder. Whip the eggs at high speed until about tripled in volume.

Add the granulated sugar and continue to whip on high speed. Whip the eggs and sugar until they are pale and stiff — generally about three to five minutes. Incorporate the lemon zest, salt and strained lemon juice. Incorporate the melted butter, while slowly mixing.

Add one cup of the flour; mix until incorporated. On medium speed, add ½ cup of olive oil. Add the remaining dry ingredients just until incorporated; scrape if necessary. Whilst mixing, add the last of the olive oil in a steady stream; scrape the bowl.

Mix again on high speed for about 30 seconds to ensure a thorough and even mixture. In a separate bowl, add ¾ cup of arils and one teaspoon of flour to lightly coat them. Gently fold the coated arils into the prepared cake batter.

Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan. Generously sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the cake and place the cake into the oven. After about 15 minutes, rotate the cake 180 degrees and bake for another 20–25 minutes. The cake should be golden brown on top and the center should spring back when pressed lightly.

Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the pan. Add ¼ cup arils as garnish and a drizzle of fine olive oil.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 25th, 2015

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Bhushan Parimoo Oct 25, 2015 01:47pm
thanks healthy information
AIZA Oct 25, 2015 02:28pm
Very useful and interesting! Love such food articles in Dawn that are informative about healthy food put into a historical perspective. Would love to see more of such stuff!
Talat Haque Oct 25, 2015 04:21pm
:) just finished having some !
dawn Oct 25, 2015 05:33pm
Enjoyed the article and soon to enjoy the recipes. Thx.
G. Din Oct 25, 2015 05:59pm
Recently, I heard of a case of a gentleman whose haemoglobin count had fallen precipitously and an Indian vaid prescribed a pomegranate for him and advised him not to discard any part of it. His haemoglobin count improved dramatically after following the advice.
Oshkosh, London Oct 25, 2015 06:22pm
According to AMA publication women who eat this fruit will increase the chances of pregnancy.
Ali Shah Oct 25, 2015 06:32pm
my favorite fruit. I LOVE pomegranate. The only part i don't like is the price. It's usually expensive in most places
rana1 Oct 25, 2015 06:46pm
Its said the pomegranate is good for women who cannot conceive as evident that thevfruit does resembles an ovary.
syed Oct 25, 2015 08:01pm
Interesting and well researched. Good work!
The Master Oct 25, 2015 10:38pm
@G. Din ...The best part for medicinal purposes is the yellow inside the outer skin,just eat it like mad if your blood count is low, I ate loads when I had dengue fever.
Rev. Eldrick Lal Oct 26, 2015 08:53am
So healthy food that it is mentioned in the Holy Bible numerous times.
Farooq Oct 26, 2015 09:42am
Thanks Ms. Saima for sharing healthy & wonderful information.
Sohaib Oct 26, 2015 10:56am
Pomegranate skin in the form of paste is very good for skin. Women may apply the paste on face two times a day for skin glow and smooth and radiant skin. Apply for 1-2 months for satisfactory result.
patil Oct 26, 2015 11:55am
India is the highest producer of pomegranate in the world and Iran is the highest exporter of pomegranate in the world.
Rev. Eldrick Lal Oct 28, 2015 04:07am
@patil Absolutely wrong! Israel, Libya and other middle eastern countries produces tons of pomegranates. Even Afghanistan is highly known for pomegranate
A Fairdeal Muslim Oct 28, 2015 02:33pm
Ek anaar sau beemar is a folk saying.
Marl Brando Oct 29, 2015 10:41am
Mmm, my favourite fruit
Fesd Oct 29, 2015 01:45pm
Good! 威兒剛