9 Chapters
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1. A Wealth of Phytochemicals

Newman Ph.D., Robert A. Basic Health Publications ePub

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ategorized as a berry, the pomegranate is a handsome fruit. It holds many small fruitsor arilswrapped tightly inside a leathery, red rind.

Unlike other plants, the pomegranate belongs to its own botanical familyPunicaceaewith only one genusPunicaand one predominant speciesP. granatum. A second species of Punica does exist, a smaller and more primitive version of the tree. Unfortunately, this rare type occurs only on the isolated island of Socotra, off the cost of Yemen. Like the Galapagos, Socotra is home to many species which exist only on these islands.

POMEGRANATE

Order: Myrtales

Genus: Punica

Family: Punicaceae

Species: P. granatum

The Whole Plant

The pomegranate tree is long-lived, with some European trees living over 200 years though fruit production declines after about fifteen years. The trees are rounded and shrub-like, yet can grow to thirty feet in height; they do not usually grow beyond twelve to sixteen feet. Dwarf varieties are available. The trees bark is reddish-brown when the plant is young and later matures to a grayish tone. Depending on where the tree grows, it may retain or lose its glossy, thick, narrow, and pointed leaves seasonally. Fruit may be produced within a few months of planting, or it may not appear for up to three years. Hot temperature during the fruiting period yields the sweetest fruits.

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5. Your Heart Will Love Pomegranates

Newman Ph.D., Robert A. Basic Health Publications ePub

. . . Pomegranate . . . if cut deep down the middle, shows a heart within blood-tinctured, of a veined humanity.

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING, LADY GERALDINES COURTSHIP

To the ancient Chinese alchemists, the pomegranates blood-red color was a sign of immortality. The Doctrine of Signatures suggests that the pomegranates color, shape, and size are a hint from Mother Nature that this food is good for the heart.

Studies show that just two ounces of pomegranate juice daily can help preserve the health of the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart itself and the many arteries that feed its muscular walls. Considering the prevalence of heart disease in America, this is good news. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States and most of the world.

CVD is not a single disease, but rather a group of interrelated conditions that affect the heart, blood vessels, and blood cells. A heart attack or occlusive stroke (where a clot or other blockage cuts off blood supply to a part of the brain) is the culmination of many years of small shifts in the health of the cardiovascular systems many parts. Early intervention in the development of cardiovascular disease with dietary changes that have been conclusively shown to preserve cardiovascular health is part of a solid strategy for prevention.

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3. Women’s Health

Newman Ph.D., Robert A. Basic Health Publications ePub

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ome Biblical scholars insist that the fruit from which Eve took the first forbidden bite was not the apple, but the pomegranate. While the forbidden fruit has symbolized the source of human troubles, today the lovely pomegranate is recognized as a source of numerous benefits specific to women.

Recent research suggests that the pomegranate, rich in flavonoids, may be effective at treating and possibly preventing breast cancer. Moreover, this fruit may help with the depression and bone loss associated with menopause. Phytoestrogens from pomegranate seeds have been shown to reduce some of the symptoms of menopause through gentle, mild stimulation of estrogen receptorshormone receptors that, following menopause, lose effectiveness.

Pomegranate Phytoestrogens

Pomegranate seeds, the white interior of the juicy arils, are 18 percent oil. Once that oil is extracted, seed cake remains. Seed cake contains bioactive plant chemicals, including lignins and polysaccharides, from which the cell walls of the seeds are built. It is the main repository of the plants phytoestrogenic compounds. Lignans are phytoestrogenic (estrogen-like compounds found in certain plant foods) and appear to have cancer-preventive properties, particularly in women. These compounds may also reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

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7. The Most Beautiful Fruit

Newman Ph.D., Robert A. Basic Health Publications ePub

W

hen it comes to exterior beauty, studies indicate that pomegranate extracts have much to offer your epidermisthe outer layer of the skinother than its ruby juice turning your hands red. These days, pomegranate is a key ingredient in skincare and bath products. The oil from pomegranate seeds may help prevent signs of wrinkling. Pomegranate seed oil has the potential to facilitate skin repair by promoting regeneration of the outer skin layers. Topical application of products containing pomegranate has been effective in preventing sun damage. Recent studies also indicate that pomegranate extract inhibits the growth of skin tumors.

Anti-Aging Help

Though the quest for eternal youth is an ancient pastime, the demand for anti-aging products and medical treatments applied for the purpose of turning back the clock on the skin-aging process has gained momentum in the past couple of decades. Americans spend more than $12 billion each year on cosmetics and skincare products to hide or prevent the signs of aging.

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2. A Pleitrope by Any Other Name

Newman Ph.D., Robert A. Basic Health Publications ePub

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leiotrope refers to any product affecting multiple changes. We use the word here in the sense of a medicine that affects multiple phyisiological improvements. (In medicine, pleiotrope generally refers to a genetic change which affects a wide range of physiological alterations.)

Since Ayurveda of India, one of the oldest medical systems, considers the pomegranate to be a pharmacy unto itself, pleiotrope is a suitable word to apply to the pomegranate. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the juice is a powerful aid in lowering fevers, its bright red color reflecting its reputation as a blood tonic. In ancient Greek medicine, pomegranate flowers were regarded as a treatment for diabetes. Even the roots and bark of the tree were used to treat infections caused by worms and related parasites. The leather-like peels of the fruits are boiled by folk healers around the world into tannin-rich potions used to staunch bleeding, check dysentery, and heal ulcers.

By the sixteenth century, the Royal College of Medicine in Great Britain had already assigned the pomegranate a spot in its coat of arms. This fruits medicinal value has been appreciated as far back as ancient Greece, during which timeagain, according to Langleys articlefamed physician Dioscorides wrote: All sorts of pomegranates are of a pleasant taste and good for your stomach . . . the juice of the kernels pressed out, being . . . mixed with honey, are good for the ulcers that are in your mouth and in your genitals . . . also for . . . ulcers, pains of the ears, and for . . . griefs in the nostrils . . . decoction of the flowers [helps] moist flagging gums and loose teeth . . . the rind having a binding faculty . . . decoction of the roots doth expel and kill [parasites]. Although knowledge about the pomegranate is more scientific today, Dioscorides was unquestionably right about many of pomegranates healing effects.

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