Pomegranates are proof that you shouldn’t judge a fruit by its cover. They’re not the most appetising fruit in the bowl, and don’t even offer edible flesh – but they are packed with sweet seeds, which are extremely good for you.
In fact, they’re often hailed as one of the healthiest fruits around, which is why it’s been used as medicine for thousands of years.
“Pomegranates provide vitamin C, fibre and polyphenols – plant compounds which may be linked with reduced heart disease and cancer,” says dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton. “However, much of the evidence on pomegranates is in animals or small groups of people, so we still don’t know whether pomegranates really have clinical effects.
“But this is no reason to avoid eating them, as pomegranates are great on their own or sprinkled on a salad or breakfast cereal. They are naturally sweet too, and could help people to reduce their added sugar intake.”
Here are 12 reasons to include pomegranate in your diet…
1. There are around 600 seeds, or arils, in one pomegranate, and they’re packed with vitamin C – the seeds from just one fruit provide about 40% of your daily vitamin C requirement.
2. Pomegranates are also full of fibre, protein, vitamins K, folate and potassium.
3. The fruit – classed as a berry – is rich in the phenol antioxidant ellagic acid, which is thought to have anti-cancer properties, although these have not yet been proven.
4. The polyphenols found in pomegranate extract have been found to reduce inflammation, which can help lower the risk of many chronic diseases including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
5. Pomegranate’s anti-inflammatory agents are also thought to help the skin resist cell damage caused by UVA and UVB rays.
6. Flavonols found in pomegranates are thought to help block the inflammation that contributes to the destruction of cartilage.
7. A study by the University of Auvergne in France last year found pomegranate strengthened bones and helped prevent osteoporosis – although the study was only done on mice.
8. Drinking a daily glass of pomegranate juice significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer for men in whom the disease recurred, according to a 2006 University of California study.
9. Evidence suggests that drinking pomegranate juice daily may help lower blood pressure.
10. A 2004 Israeli study on patients with narrowing of the arteries found a daily glass of pomegranate juice over three years reduced the damage caused by cholesterol in the artery by almost half, and also cut cholesterol build-up.
11. A 2005 American study on patients with coronary heart disease found a daily glass of pomegranate juice over three months resulted in improved blood flow to the heart and a lower risk of heart attack.
12. Studies suggest drinking pomegranate juice every day helps improve performance in learning and memory tasks.
In season throughout summer, strawberries are truly one of nature’s finest candies. The sweetness of a perfectly ripe, juicy strawb is hard to beat – plus, as well as being packed full of vitamin C (just seven strawberries provides the recommended daily amount), they’re one of those foods that always feel like a treat.
Ah, the humble peach. Along with subtle sweetness and that sublime juicy texture, peaches are a fab source of antioxidants to help support your immune function, and also contain iron and potassium. They’ll top up your dietary fibre levels too.
Zespri Sungold kiwifruit
If you’ve never tried a Sungold kiwi, look out for them in supermarkets through summer. One of the most vitamin C-loaded fruits you can find, they’re also delicious; super sweet and soft, without the tartness you sometimes get with green kiwis (though those are great too!).