Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pomegranates: taking over the world 1 smoothie at a time

I had an epiphone this morning while eating my cereal. I had been to Red Mango while running errands with Rach the day before and they were promoting their new pomegranate frozen yogurt and then we went to the farmer's market where we got a free sample of pomegranate juice, and then I looked at my desktop which was oddly enough this photo of the pomegranate tree from outside one of my classrooms at the Jerusalem Center, and then I remembered that I had gotten a Pomegranate Paradise Jamba Juice the day before and it hit me- pomegranates are trendy! And everywhere! In your grape juice, in your smoothies, in your frozen yogurt, on your desktop- everywhere.
I kept thinking about it and remembered in the Old Testament how Solomon's Temple was described as having pomegranates carved into the pillars. I also happened to ask these ladies at the Israel Museum (I saw the Dead Sea Scrolls here, by the way- AMAZING!!!) gift shop while I was there what the significance of pomegranates were in Jewish culture, since they were depicted symbolically on stuff all over Jerusalem and beyond. This was a way rough conversation since their English was broken at best, and my Hebrew was, well, non-existent. It took a while for the question to actually get across and then they just stood there thinking and looking puzzled and saying things back and forth to each other and finally said to me "It means many things." Wow, I could'a told you that one...luckily they continued after quite a while longer of discussing between one another. They eventually got across that it had to do with beauty, family, fertility, love, happiness...after this point I think they started making stuff up to appease the annoying American girl who ought to know Hebrew, but I was really grateful for their time. They definitely had the right idea and they were really kind to help out. I have heard since that in Judaism, it often is associated with the 1st commandment to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, which makes a lot of sense since they are packed with hundreds of these red seeds. (hence the name which means "seeded apple" in case you don't know Latin)
Pomegranates also appear in some Christian art sometimes symbolizing the atonement, which I'm gonna guess relates to the blood from every pore scripture with all the moist and shiny red seeds. Likewise, the Koran mentions that pomegranates are grown in heaven. Interesting. I also remember seeing it associated with the goddess Persephone in a lot of Classical art when I did a research project on her once upon a time. Not to be outdone by major world religions of the past and present, Armenia uses the pomegranate (and the apricot, in fact) as a major symbol of itself and they are naturally grown all around that area of the world.
So anyway, this is already way longer of a post than anticipated, but what I really wanted to know at the time of this epiphone was whether or not they have real health benefits or if it is just a fad. So, one Wikipedia search (and beyond, slightly) later and here I am to tell you that although there is not really 100% conclusive results on antioxidant efficacy in humans, the preliminary data is very promising with improvements/prevention being seen in studies on various types of cancer, heart disease, and (randomly) dental plaque. However, it's not really unusually high in any actual vitamin. I suppose being a stockhouse of phytochemicals and free-radical reducing agents gives you that right.
Now that you know way more than you ever wanted to, eat away! Don't be thinking that it is some proven miracle salve, but it is good- and darn tasty. Feed the trend.

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