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A symbol of fertility and rebirth, the pomegranate was once believed to hold mystical healing powers. While that claim has yet to pass scientific muster, the ruby-red fruit filled with luscious, edible seeds is a great source of heart-protective nutrients. With nearly as much potassium as a banana, it could also help ward off hypertension. Plus, recent research from the University of Naples in Italy shows that the polyphenol antioxidants in pomegranate juice may protect against hardening of the arteries. To eat, halve the fruit with a knife to release the seeds; enjoy them as is, sprinkled on anything from savory meat dishes to yogurt, or in this refreshing compote.Pomegranate Stats
Serving Size: 1 pomegranate
Protein: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 26 g
Fiber: 1 g
Potassium: 399 mg
Vitamin C: 9 mg
Seeds from 1 pomegranate (about 3/4 cup)
1 white grapefruit, peeled and segmented
2 navel oranges, peeled and segmented
1/4 cup pomegranate juice, such as Pom
1/4 cup diet (or regular) ginger ale
In a small bowl, gently toss together the pomegranate seeds with the grapefruit and orange segments. Evenly divide among four small wine or parfait glasses. Sprinkle each with the pomegranate juice and ginger ale. Makes 4 servings. Nutritional information per serving: 90 calories, 2 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 0 g fat, 3 g fiber.How to Buy Ripe Pomegranates
Between September and January, look for bright-colored, blemish-free pomegranates that feel heavy for their size. This indicates a lot of seeds -- the fruit's main attraction. If it sounds like a hollow drum when tapped, it's ripe; cracked skin means it's overripe. Store pomegranates for up to three weeks at room temperature or a month in the refrigerator. Although they taste better when they're fresh, the seeds can be frozen for up to three months. Also use them for garnishing guacamole or cheese dips.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, January 2006.