The pomegranate is native to the Middle East and was cultivated in antiquity all over the Mediterranean and northern India, spreading into the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is a popular ingredient in salads, juices, alcoholic blends and smoothies as well as in cooking and baking, due to its rich colour and flavour.
Pomegranates are an extremely rich source of vitamins K and C, together with some vitamin E and most of the B complex vitamins. They also have a little protein, are low in fat and relatively high in fibre, as well as having a good supply of potassium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
They are a rich source of polyphenol antioxidants, and some studies have shown that drinking pomegranate juice can have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular symptoms by reducing blood pressure, atherosclerotic plaque in the carotid arteries and LDL cholesterol. In addition, their anti-inflammatory properties may help in reducing joint pain.
Pomegranates have been used as a fertility symbol for thousands of years, and recent research confirms that they may help in increasing testosterone levels and blood flow, and thereby improving erectile responses. Further trials suggest that they may also help memory retention.