Tuesday, 11 July 2006

punica granatum

In Turkey and the Middle East, pomegranates are used widely in both sweet and savoury cooking.

This April, I spent ten days in Turkey (Istanbul actually) and I delighted in the food and produce I discovered there.

One of the things I found very interesting were the different types of vendors that you find on the street selling different snacks foods and drinks (simit, cucumbers, corn etc). The spring weather was definitely heating up and orange juice was a popular way to quench your thirst.
In some of the orange juice stalls I noticed fat, red pomegranates which the vendor would juice using an old school orange crusher. He’d place half a pomegranate on the holder, pull down the handle and you just watched the blood-red juice pour into the glass.

Pomegranate juice, or nar ekşisi, is very tart but extremely delicious and you can feel it doing good things to your body as you drink it.

Makes me wish pomegranates weren’t so expensive. To make this glass of nar ekşisi the vendor used about 5-6 pomegranates.

So, although I didn’t make this glass of juice, I did enjoy drinking it down.
Well here is my first post for Antioxidant Rich Food, an event created by Sweetnicks where bloggers write about foods that are high in antioxidants and Cate does a round up of all on offer.

What are antioxidants? I ask myself this all the time. I hear this word bandied about a lot on the news and in ads. In my job, when I happen to work on functional food projects, I can’t avoid the word and Jonas is always ranting about the properties of antioxidants - in tea, coffee, red wine, shampoo - and how they combat “free radicals”.

[Frankly, I think he just likes to say "free radicals" but, if you haven’t noticed already, Jonas is heavily influenced by advertising and is a marketer's dream – he just regurgitates the stuff he sees on TV and has no shame about it.]

Well, since I decided to join the ARF Tuesday event I thought I better know what antioxidants are: antioxidants help to prevent oxidation. Oxidation causes chemical reactions and therefore damage to the cells. Preventing chemical damage means preventing oxidation. Got it?

Well, my ingredient of choice, pomegranates, are very high in antioxidants.

According to Wikipedia
“One pomegranate delivers 40% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement. It is also a rich source of folic acid and of antioxidants.
Pomegranates are high in polyphenols. The most abundant polyphenols in pomegranate are hydrolysable tannins, particularly punicalagins, which have been shown in many peer-reviewed research publications to be the superior antioxidant responsible for the free-radical scavenging ability of pomegranate juice.
In several human clinical trials, the juice of the pomegranate has been found effective in reducing several heart risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status, and foam cell formation, all of which are steps in atherosclerosis and heart disease. Tannins have been identified as the primary components responsible for the reduction of oxidative states which lead to these risk factors.”

According to most sources, pomegranates originated in Iran and quickly spread throughout the ancient world, featuring in myths from Babylon to Greece.

Punica was the Latin name for Carthage, ancient Rome’s great nemesis and disputably the ancient world’s best source of pomegranates. That’s why the botanist, Linneas, chose punica as the Latin botanical name for this fruit.

Those nasty weapons, grenades, were also named after the Spanish word for pomegranate and I’m sure most foodies know that the delicious red cocktail syrup, grenadine, is made from the pomegranate.


  1. What an interesting post Anna.
    Pomegranates are one of those fruits that are just a mystery to me, thanks for de-mystifying it!

  2. one day i will taste the mythical pomegranate :) i can't wait!


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