Autumn is the time when pomegranates are in season. You can find them in Middle Eastern shops and in mainstream supermarkets. The fruit is full of goodness and sweetness.
Modern research has shown pomegranate to be a rich source of vitamins B and C, potassium, magnesium and powerful antioxidants. Recent trials indicate it has anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive (through the inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme; ACE), anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects. Furthermore, it has been shown to have a positive effect on heart disease risk factors and onosteoarthritis. It has been used in folk medicine for thousands of years, where amongst other purposes, pomegranate juice is thought to relieve constipation, while the fruit seeds are used to treat diarrhoea.
Eat pomegranate fruit and drink the juice as part of your diet in autumn.
Together with other foods, pomegranate will act synergistically to enhance the nourishment and healing molecules provided to the body. It will also bring sweetness to the palate, pleasure to the eye and an opportunity to share a story with your child.
The pomegranate has symbolic meaning in many cultures and traditions and has been considered a sacred fruit in most major religions. In ancient times, it symbolised life and fertility and was used -together with apples and eggs- in weddings and funerals. Based on the myth of Persephone who was the wife of the God of Underworld (Hades), ancient Greeks put eggs and pomegranates in a basket next to the bed where the dead laid to rest. These offerings would help to bring life and fertility to what came after death, to ‘life after death’.
In England, pomegranate features in the coat of arms of the Royal College of Physicians, granted in the middle of the 16th century by King Henry the VIIIth. Perhaps, now that we have such advanced scientific knowledge, we can give a different meaning to this symbol:an acknowledgement of the significant role foods can play for health and for the treatment of sick for healing purposes.
(Photo by Dr Henry Oakeley)