When the Greek goddess Persephone was abducted by Hades, lord of the Underworld, she doomed herself to half a life of darkness by eating six pomegranate seeds from his platter. Even after her rescue, those seeds left their mark on her spirit, and for six months of the year she was bound to return to Hades as his queen. Persephone’s mother, the nature goddess Demeter, spent those lonely months in mourning, allowing no crops or flowers to grow while her daughter was kept out of the sunlight. We know this time as winter, the time of rest for the land, the barren months that give mother earth time to gather her strength for spring.
Persephone probably doesn’t eat pomegranates anymore. But you should. Because actually, pomegranates can help keep you out of the underworld – or whatever place/state of being you believe follows death. They have some of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits, including the super potent flavonoids and polyphenols. These phytochemicals have potent anticarcinogen properties, and they stimulate estrogen production, increasing bone mass and preventing osteoporosis. They are also amazingly beneficial to heart health. Poms contain phytochemicals called punicalagins, and studies have shown that these compounds can not only significantly lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels, but they actually help break down the plaque that causes dangerous heart and artery blockages.
When we visited my (actively anti-holistic health) family for Christmas, we spent the first half hour or so listening to my relatives compare the side effects of their blood pressure meds – this one caused a bad cough, this one caused insomnia, this one caused muscle pains but hey, as long as The Doc says it’s ok… The best part about using pomegranates for heart health: zero side effects.
Actually, poms have the exact opposite effect as pharmaceuticals. One of the benefits of the wide array of phytochemicals is an increase in serotonin, which improves mood. Imagine that, something that tastes good, keeps you healthy, AND makes you happy – without crappy side effects! Beat that, Big Pharma!
Pomegranates can be somewhat of a pain in the butt to eat, what with the tough skin and the billions of seeds you have to dig out (think of it as buried pirate treasure – it helps), but pom juice is a delish and healthy alternative. However, Dr. Mercola cautions against drinking too much fruit juice. It’s high in fructose, which is naturally occurring in fruits but which triggers the release of large amounts of insulin when not tempered by the nutrients and fibers found in the fruit flesh. Dr. Mercola recommends choosing brands that contain only 100% juice, lots of pulp, and only dark, anti-oxidant rich fruits like pomegranates, blueberries, and cranberries. After all, what’s the sense in protecting your heart while giving yourself diabetes?