Food Highlight: Pomegranates
For a fruit, pomegranates hold a sort of magical, mystical, mythical power about them. Over the past few thousand years of history, pomegranates have been a symbol of prosperity to ancient Egyptians, have held a historical significance in ancient texts and drawings, have inspired authors and artists, have roots in Greek myths, have held a place in traditional Rosh Hashana celebrations, and are believed by some scholars to be the forbidden fruit eaten in the Garden of Eden.
The smooth, round, red fruit may look like an apple. But after opening a pomegranate, the difference is immediate. Inside the thick skin lies hundreds of tiny red seeds, called arils. These arils can be eaten fresh from the fruit or processed into juice. Pomegranates are usually found fresh and in season from October to February.
Today, pomegranates still are regarded as a powerful and highly beneficial food, though they are hailed more for their nutritional benefits than their symbolism. While the juice of a pomegranate ranks very high on antioxidant lists, the juice is sugary and may not be best to incorporate into the post bariatric surgery diet. Since those who have had gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or lap band surgery should be incorporating nutrient dense healthy foods into their diets, pomegranate seeds may be more appropriate than pomegranate juice.
One cup of pomegranate arils provides 144 calories, 7 g fiber, 3 g protein, 30% RDA for vitamin C, 36% RDA for vitamin K, as well as many other important nutrients. Many of the benefits associated with pomegranates come from two unique substances: punicalagins and punicic acid. Punicalagins are extremely powerful antioxidants found in the juice and peel of the pomegranate. These punicalagins are largely responsible for the powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects that contribute to the fame of the pomegranate. Punicic acid, or pomegranate seed oil, is derived from the aril and is a conjugated linoleic acid.
Pomegranate extracts, seeds, or juice have been shown to have many benefits including:
Chronic Inflammation is associated with arthritis, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Fighting against cancer cells
Studies show pomegranate extracts slowing the cell reproduction of prostate cancer cells and breast cancer cells.
Protecting the heart
Studies show pomegranate juice can help lower blood pressure. Other studies also link pomegranates with improved triglyceride levels and lower LDL cholesterol.
Fighting against germs
Pomegranates appear to protect against some types of bacteria, Candida albicans yeast, and some funguses. Combined with its vitamin C, this antibacterial property is promising against gingivitis, periodontitis, and denture stomatitis.
Improving athletic performance
Dietary nitrates in pomegranates appear to improve exercise performance by enhancing blood flow, thereby delaying onset of fatigue and increasing exercise efficiency.
Promoting bowel regularity
Pomegranate seeds are surprisingly high in fiber for a fruit. Adding fiber to your diet can help improve bowel regularity.
In addition to being good for you, pomegranates have the benefit of tasting good. The fruit offers an eating experience like no other fruit, and a taste that is sweet with a little crunch. Pomegranate seeds are delicious eaten right out of the fruit. They can also be removed from the skin and sprinkled in salads, added to oatmeal, in yogurt, pureed into smoothies, added to drinks, added to guacamole, used as a glaze for chicken, tossed into wild rice, or even as a replacement for jelly in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The above food highlight is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified general surgeon specializing in bariatric weight loss surgeries, including adjustable lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass. Dr. Shillingford and his staff enjoy providing our patients with information on foods that can be incorporated into a healthy post surgical diet. Dr. Shillingford’s gastric sleeve, gastric band, and gastric bypass patients come from all over South Florida, including Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Delray Beach, up to Jacksonville, Orlando and New York.