The name pomegranate derives from medieval Latin pōmum “apple” and grānātum “seeded”. This has influenced the common name for pomegranate in many languages (e.g. granada in Spanish, Granatapfel or Grenadine in German, grenade in French, granatäpple in Swedish, pomogranà in Venetian). Mālum grānātus, using the classical Latin word for apple, gives rise to the Italian name melograno, or less commonly melagrana.
Secrets Revealed: The Powerful Health Benefits of the Pomegranate
One of the oldest known fruits, found in writings and artifacts of many cultures and religions, the pomegranate (punica granatum) is an original native of Persia. This nutrient dense, antioxidant rich fruit has been revered as a symbol of health, fertility and eternal life.The pomegranate is a nutrient dense food source rich in phytochemical compounds. Pomegranates contain high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, potent antioxidants offering protection against heart disease and cancer. A glass of pomegranate juice has more antioxidants than red wine, green tea, blueberries, and cranberries.
Compounds found only in pomegranates called punicalagins are shown to benefit the heart and blood vessels. Punicalagins are the major component responsible for pomegranate’s antioxidant and health benefits. They not only lower cholesterol, but also lower blood pressure and increase the speed at which heart blockages (atherosclerosis) melt away.
Recent medical research studied heart patients with severe carotid artery blockages. They were given an ounce of pomegranate juice each day for a year. Not only did study participants’ blood pressure lower by over 12 percent, but there was a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque. Just as astounding, participants who did not take the pomegranate juice saw their atherosclerotic plaque increase by 9 percent.
In other studies, potent antioxidant compounds found in pomegranates have shown to reduce platelet aggregation and naturally lower blood pressure, factors that prevent both heart attacks and strokes.
Not only are pomegranates good for your heart and blood vessels but they have been shown to inhibit breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, leukemia and to prevent vascular changes that promote tumor growth in lab animals. Several in vitro studies have shown this remarkable anti-cancer effect. Additional studies and clinical trials currently taking place are hopeful to reveal this fascinating effect on humans.
Also of note, pomegranate juice contains phytochemical compounds that stimulate serotonin and estrogen receptors, improving symptoms of depression and increasing bone mass in lab animals.
Features of the Pomegranate
- Most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits
- Potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects
- Inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that could cause heart attacks, strokes and embolic disease
- Lowers cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors
- Lowers blood pressure
- Shown to promote reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in human studies
- May have benefits to relieve or protect against depression and osteoporosis
- Many studies show that the pomegranate is one of the most powerful, nutrient dense foods for overall good health. These clinical findings clearly show a correlation between pomegranate compounds and their positive effect on both human and animal cardiovascular, nervous, and skeletal health. This is one fruit that you can’t afford to exclude from your diet!
“People use whatever is at hand to express their religious beliefs,” says Frank A. Salamone, an authority on religious symbols and a professor at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. Centuries ago, in the Fertile Crescent, where so many religions arose, the pomegranate was at hand. By its very nature, it lent itself to religious symbolism.
“The pomegranate is red, and so is blood,” Salamone says. “It has a lot of seeds and is an obvious symbol of fertility.” It’s beautiful, strong and delicate, and its juice has healing properties, he says. “It says a lot of different things all at once. People bring meaning to it.”
Ancient Persians painted pomegranates on their shields for protection in battle. In Greek and Roman myths, it was the pomegranate that seduced Persephone, the goddess of fertility, into marrying her kidnapper, Hades, god of the underworld.
The Vedas, some of the oldest religious texts in Hinduism, consider the pomegranate, with its inner treasure of edible seeds, a symbol for fertility and prosperity. It is revered for its healthful qualities. (Modern research suggests, for example, that the pomegranate has antioxidant and antiviral properties and might play a role in some cancer treatments.) The pomegranate often found its way into the hands of Hindu gods. It was seen as an appeal to the gods and is one of nine plants traditionally offered to Durga, the 10-armed goddess of retribution and justice.
During his life on Earth, the Buddha received his share of valuable gifts from wealthy disciples. But it was, tradition says, a poor old woman’s gift of a small pomegranate that delighted him. It is said that he once offered a pomegranate to the demon Hariti, which cured her of her alarming habit of eating children. Buddhism considers the pomegranate to be one of the three blessed fruits. Others are the citrus and the peach.
In Genesis, the first book of the Torah, the fruit that prompted Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden may have been the pomegranate, some scholars say. It’s not likely, they argue, that apples flourished in that first garden. Later, the Hebrews searched for the Promised Land, looking for a list of clues to prove they had arrived. The list? Wheat and barley, vines and figs, olives and honey and pomegranates. The round red fruit with its own crown, or calyx, decorated the robes of Jewish priests and some of the pillars in the temple in Jerusalem. Tradition says that each pomegranate holds 613 seeds, or arils, one for each commandment in the Torah. Today, pomegranates are often part of Rosh Hashana celebrations, their seeds embodying the hope that the new year will be fruitful.
Pomegranates figure in many religious paintings by the likes of Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, often in the hands of Mary or the infant Jesus. The fruit, broken or bursting open, is a symbol of the fullness of his suffering and resurrection. In the famous “Unicorn Tapestries,” which date from about 1500 and reside now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters, pomegranates may represent Christ and the need to look inside for the blood that redeems believers. What seems to be the blood of the unicorn is red pomegranate seeds, perhaps an illustration of the belief that from the blood of martyrs flow the seeds of faith. In Christianity, pomegranate seeds were often compared to individual believers, gathered into one community of faith.
According to the Quran, the gardens of paradise include pomegranates. It is important, tradition says, to eat every seed of a pomegranate because one can’t be sure which aril came from paradise. The prophet Mohammed is said to have encouraged his followers to eat pomegranates to ward off envy and hatred.
Additional sources: “The Anchor Bible Dictionary,” edited by David Noel Freedman; “Church Symbolism” by F.R. Webber; “The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols” by Ellen Frankel and Betsy Platkin Teutsch; “A Dictionary of Life in Bible Times” by W. Corswant; “Pomegranates” by Ann Kleinberg; and “Pom,” a promotional book created by Pom Wonderful.
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Posted in food, Journal Entry, nature, Pictures, religion | Tagged Buddhism, Christianity, Froggie, From the Lilypad, health benefits, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, persephone, pomegranate, pomegranate pear pie, pomegranate stuffing, religion, symbolism | 1 Comment »
Blueberry Lemon Scones
2 cups pastry flour*
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup frozen butter–grated
1/2 cup lemon yogurt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
In a large bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add frozen butter that has just been grated. Blend in with fingers until all ingredients are well incorporated and clump together when you press it. Or use a pastry blender.
In a small bowl mix together yogurt, cream and egg. Add liquid to dry mixture and gently mix. Add in blueberries and gently stir until just blended. Don’t overmix it or you will have tough scones. Turn out on floured counter and press into a circle, about an inch thick. Slice into pie shaped pieces. Use an egg wash if you would like to glaze the top. Place on greased parchment paper about 1/2 in away from each other. I baked this on a pizza pan. Bake at 400 for about 18 minutes.
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
zest and juice of 2 lemons.
In a small saucepan mix all ingredients and simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Once thick stir well and brush or spoon on scones. This glaze should slightly harden.
*Pastry Flour Substitutes
Best Option: 1/2-cup all-purpose flour combined with 1/2-cup cake flour. This will create a flour with a protein content that is very close to that of pastry flour. If you want a more precise match (and don’t mind a bit of measuring), use 3/8-cup all-purpose flour and 5/8-cup cake flour.
Still Good: If you don’t have cake flour, use two Tablespoons corn starch, combined with enough all-purpose flour to make a cup. Your baked goods will be a bit tougher (due to the extra protein), but still quite good.
Use either substitute to replace one cup of pastry flour. Double or triple the recipe as needed.
Froggie’s Homestyle Three Cheese Mac n Cheese
8 ounces pasta, prepared according to direction and drain (elbow, spirali, rigati, vermicelli, farfella, etc)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Two cups three-cheese grated Italian or Mexican blend
1 cup crushed Supreme Cheddar chips
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
- In a saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in enough flour to make a roux. Add milk and cream to roux slowly, whisking constantly for several minutes until smooth. Stir in cheeses, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick. Remove from heat and stir in macaroni until well blended. Pour into large casserole dish or single serve ramekins.
- Sprinkle crushed cheese chips over the top.
- Bake at 400 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes. Serve. You can sprinkle a bit of parsley on top for added color if desired.
By using cream in the sauce, you get this extremely smooth, soft consistency that clings to the contours of the pasta and prevents the macaroni and cheese from drying out . There are a lot of recipes out there that don’t provide this, so be careful.