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Super Sunnah Foods: Powerful Pomegranates

Pomegranate is a super antioxidant food.  One of the most beautiful facts about pomegranates is that while a few hundred years ago, or even a few decades ago, they were quite difficult to eat and access, that is no longer true. At least in the US, pomegranate juice is all over stores, including prepackaged pomegranate seeds that are super easy to incorporate into salads, or on ice cream, or just plain. Of course, pomegranate molasses has been a staple of Middle Eastern cooking forever, so I’m not trying to say this is all new, but in the US (at least) there has been a pomegranate boom over the last twenty or thirty years that we have all benefited from.  So, with all that said, let’s talk about POMEGRANATES.

HISTORY

Pomegranate was one of the earliest fruits to be cultivated in human civilization, going back over 5000 years. It grows on trees or shrubs and the plant can be quite long lived, up to 200 years, although it stops producing fruit at some point. Pomegranate fruits were sacred to Buddhist, Judaism, Christians, Muslims, Ancient Sumer, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, and other ancient cultures. 

Egyptians were buried with pomegranates, and the Babylonians believed chewing the seeds before battle made them invincible.  The appear in multiple Greek myths and stories, including the famous story of how Persephone became Hades’ bride for part of the world due to eating 6 pomegranate seeds.  The fixtures of the temple of Solomon, the decorations of the Ark of the Covenant, and the priestly vestments and Judaism involved golden pomegranate fruits.  The Romans modeled the crown of the emperor after the calyx that sits atop the pomegranate fruit. Pomegranate fruits came to the Americas through the colonial period, and it became a fruit that existed worldwide due to its hardy and temperature resilient nature.

IN THE QURAN

The word Pomegranate رمان mentioned 3 times in Quran in 3 verses.

(6:99)

وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُشْتَبِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ

And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees – of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.

(6:141)

وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُتَشَابِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ

And He it is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.

(55:68)

فِيهِمَا فَاكِهَةٌ وَنَخْلٌ وَرُمَّانٌ

 In both of them are fruit and palm trees and pomegranates.

IN THE HADITH

The Prophet PBUH stated: “There is not a pomegranate which does not have a pip from one of the pomegranates of the Garden (Jannah) in it.” (Abu Nu’aim)

The Messenger of Allah PBUH told his companions: “Whoever eats a pomegranate, Allah will light his heart forty nights.”

Our Beloved Prophet PBUH also said “Pomegranate and its rind strengthen digestion (stomach).” (Abu Nuaim, narrated by `Ali)

There are multiple other sayings about pomegranates from the early Imams and scholars which support the importance of pomegranate as both beneficial for digestion, good for spiritual health, and all around a positive and beneficial food.

NUTRITIONAL FACTS

Pomegranates as mentioned above are highly antioxidant, and many parts of the plant have been shown to be bioactive with possible medicinal benefits including the rind, leaves, and the seeds themselves. 

One cup of seeds (174 grams) contains:

  • Fiber: 7 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Vitamin C: 30% of the RDI
  • Vitamin K: 36% of the RDI
  • Folate: 16% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 12% of the RDI

Pomegranates also contain two components which are responsible for their heavy health benefits

Punicalagins: Punicalagins are extremely potent antioxidants found in pomegranate juice and peel. As a result, pomegranate juice has three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea.

Punicic Acid: Punicic acid, found in pomegranate seed oil, is the main fatty acid in the arils. It’s a type of conjugated linoleic acid with potent biological effects.

The combination of these nutritional elements lead to a list of health benefits including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, potential benefits in curing certain types on cancer, lowering blood pressure, helping with arthritis and joint pain, lowering risk of heart disease, improving memory, improving performance in exercise, and other benefits.

These nutritional facts are directly from an article on Health Line.com https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-proven-benefits-of-pomegranate

USE IN RECIPES

Spritzer:

Add pomegranate juice to sparkling water for a refreshing cooler.

Fruit salad:

Add one cup of arils to four cups of watermelon, two cups of sliced grapes, two cups of sliced strawberries, and one cup of sliced kiwi fruits.

Green salad:

Add ½ cup of arils, ½ cup of sliced almonds, ¼ cup of dried cranberries, to 5 cups mix of spinach, romaine, and other salad greens. Dressings include vinaigrettes, French, or poppyseed.

Lentils and beans:

Add ¼ cup of pomegranate molasses to lentils, beans, or other legumes.

References:

https://www.greenprophet.com/2012/07/plants-quran-pomegranate/

https://www.thelastdialogue.org/article/the-word-pomegranate-mentioned-in-quran/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283514767_Origin_History_and_Domestication_of_Pomegranate

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Sarah is a social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with at-risk and homeless youth. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God.