Having touched down in Karachi four weeks ago after a smooth 20-hour flight, the health nut in me had to make a trip to the local street vendors to stock up on seasonal fruits and vegetables for my morning tonic — juices.
Once that was checked on the to-do list, our next stop was the fancy high-end grocery stores across the city. I was curious to explore the 'imported items', which had flooded the stores in the last eight years or so that I had been away.
To my surprise, I saw aisles loaded with processed, canned and genetically modified foods packed with sugar daddies and salty sins. I walked further down and the frozen, microwaveable food section was massive and even more horrifying. By then, I had come to a realisation that just like most places in the world, Pakistan too, was plagued by processed foods and in desperate need of a food revolution.
With this thought, I requested the salesperson to take me to the fresh produce section. As he guided me, he spoke confidently in English (a pleasant surprise for me) and said, "Baaji! All imported fruits and vegetables here from [across the] world. You will like very much!"
I saw blueberries and ecstatically flew to grab them; turning a few heads and inviting a few glares! Of course, that’s me, in my wellness-junkie element and larger-than-life spirit.
Also read: Health benefits — The pomp of pomegranate
As I flipped the packet over for pricing, it said Rs650 and I began to convert. "$8! Woah!" I say to myself.
Now, let me clarify, as much as I am mindful about investing in my health, giving my body the best of what it needs and empowering my clients to do the same, I was outraged at the price (considering the purchasing power of the country) and was open to exploring alternative antioxidant-rich foods that the local landscape had to offer!
Upon my journey, I quickly discovered the powerful pomegranate. This ruby red beauty is loaded with polyphenols, an excellent antioxidant that helps fight free radical damage caused by inflammation from the standard Pakistani diet (rich in rancid oils and unhealthy fats), unmanageable stress levels and poor sedentary lifestyle.
Since pomegranates are a rich source of Vitamin C, they strengthen the immune system, detoxify the body from heavy metal toxicity (mercury-loaded with fish and pollution from the environment), enable the body to better deal with stress, eliminate free radicals from the liver and heal the gut lining, which, in turn, improves digestion.
Furthermore, the good news is: they also reduce atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) — the leading cause of heart disease and cancer — two very common chronic diseases in Pakistan.
Pomegranates are a phenomenal source of potassium; a powerful mineral that optimises the nervous system, regulates metabolism and maintains healthy kidney function. This powerhouse is also rich in iron, therefore, helps with anemia (deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood), which causes fatigue, weariness, headaches and lack of energy.
Anemia affects day-to-day living, imbalanced moods and sex drive, especially in women. Anemia affects approximately 2 billion people worldwide (30 per cent of the world population), with the greatest distress in resource-constrained countries such as South Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Moreover, this super food’s astringent and anti-bacterial properties help with cavities, ulcers and sore gums. Oral health is the doorway to optimal overall health, because digestion begins in the mouth from the first bite.
Research shows that bacteria in the mouth can cause infection in the body and that chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer are directly correlated with oral health. Rightly so, in the Middle East, pomegranates are referred to as 'The Queen '.
This glorious fruit has excellent moisturising properties that nourish and protect the skin. It also helps with regeneration of cells and improves circulation to aid with wound healing and repair of wear and tear.
As mentioned earlier, the standard Pakistani diet is inflammatory, which directly affects the skin condition because the inside reflects the outside. Pomegranates contain Omega - 5 (Punicic acid) that has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and protects sensitive skin from UV rays.
However, all skin types can greatly benefit from pomegranate's nutrient density. Indeed, this fruit can be dubbed as a 'super fruit' because it helps increase our bodies’ production of anti-oxidants, Glutathione — 'The Mother of All Antioxidants'.
We can enjoy pomegranates in our diets in many creative ways, such as: juicing, teas, on salads, dips, marinades and cold-pressed pomegranate seed oil to fight those dirty free-radicals, maintain balanced health, vibrant skin and be the powerhouses we are!
All photos by author.