The pomegranate tree is a deciduous tree, which bears fruits and grows to an average height of 5–8 meters. The tree originally belongs to the regions of pakistan, Afganistan and Iran. The tree has been cultivated since time immemorial in the Mediterranean regions including Algeria, India, Turkey, Iran and also in some parts of South East Asia, Tropical Africa, peninsular Malaysia, etc. It is available in the months from September to January in the Northern Hemisphere and and from March to May in the Southern Hemisphere.
The leaves of the tree are oblong and narrow and have a glossy texture. They are about 3-7 cms in length and are 2 cms broad. The fruit has a peculiar hexagonal shape with a thick red skin and around 600 seeds. The seeds of the fruit range in colour from white to deep red. There are also some varieties available in the market, which have a purple pulp colour. Pomegranate trees are drought tolerant and may be grown in dry areas as well. The tree is susceptible to root decay from fungal diseases in wetter regions. They are also tolerant to moderate frost, and can survive in a temperature of about 10o C.
Uses of Pomegranate
The exotic fruit, as it is often referred to as, pomegranate has been long used in the cusines of various countries. Some culinary uses that pomegranates can be put to include the following:
- In many regions of India and the Middle East, pomegranate juice is a popular drink. The juice is also used to make curd rice in many Indian states
- Thick and sweetened pomegranate juice named Grenadine syrup, is extensively used in cocktails
- This syrup was used in place of tomato by the Iranian countries to make a traditional recipe called fesenjan, which is a thick sauce, which is made from pomegranate juice and ground wallnuts, and often had with duck, chicken and rice
- The seeds of the fruit, are used as a spice called anardana in India and Pakistan. The spice lends a tangy taste to the dish it is added to, and is often used when making chutneys or curries
- Pomegranate seeds are also used in salads and also make an excellent garnish for various desserts
- The fruit is also used to make liqueur
- Pomegranates are also used as ice cream toppings or are mixed with yogurt or as jam on toast.
- The pomegranate fruit is rich in beneficial antioxidants, like polyphenols, tannins and anthocyanins. The antioxidant level in pomegranate juice is higher than in other fruit juices, red wine or green tea
- Recent research has shown that pomegranates can help fight osteoarthritis, as regular consumption of the juice slows down the deterioration of the cartilage
- Pomegranate juice is also believed to increase blood flow to the heart, and is extremely beneficial for people with ischemic heart disease
- It is also a good source of vitamins C and B, antioxidant polyphenols, pantothenic acid and potassium
- The juice of the fruit is an effective remedy to reduce heart disease risk factor, including LDL Oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation
- Juice of the pomegranate has been found effective in reducing heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation, all of which are steps in atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease
- The juice of the fruit also has antiviral and antibacterial effects against dental plaque
- Consumption of pomegranate juice has proven to help immensely in cases of prostate cancer or prostatic hyperplasia, diabetes or lymphoma
- Pomegranate juice has also shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)