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Health Reasons to Love Pomegranates

Move over, blueberries, pomegranates are the new superfood in town. Pomegranates (mainly in the form of pomegranate juice) have gotten some buzz for a while — and with good reason. Pomegranate juice is a powerful source of antioxidants linked to lowered cholesterol and a slower growth of prostate cancer. But I’m a big fan of the whole fruit, which adds beautiful ruby gems to whatever dish you choose and offers a host of health benefits.

First, you might be wondering how to actually get those jewel-colored seeds — which are technically called arils — out of the pomegranate. It’s simpler than it seems. Just thwack the skin side of the pomegranate several times with a wooden spoon so the seeds fall into a ball. (Alternately, you can cut the pomegranate in sections and pull the clumped-together arils into a bowl of water — the arils will sink to the bottom and the white membrane will float to the top.)

Now for the additional nutrition info. Half a cup of arils (a little less than a third of a pomegranate) has 72 calories and 3 grams of fiber. It’s also a good source of vitamins C and K, plus has a smattering of other vitamins and minerals. Arils also take a while to eat, as the crunchy seeds within the tart, juicy arils slow down your pace. But perhaps a pomegranate’s most-notable feature is that it’s a powerful source of antioxidants, signified by its vibrant color.

My favorite, and simple, way to eat pomegranate seeds is to scatter them over a bowl of honey Greek yogurt, but they’re also a great addition to other recipes. Here are some to try:

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25 Ways to Use Pomegranates

Ring in the new year with some pomegranates, which are eaten in Turkey to bring luck, health and prosperity for the coming year (and coincidentally, are at the peak of their season). Similarly, on New Year’s Eve in Greece, a whole pomegranate is smashed on the floor for good luck at the stroke of midnight. But it’s not just luck that these thick-skinned fruits will bring you; they have loads of antioxidants and are a super sweet-tangy addition to everything from salads to homemade lollipops.

There are a few ways to remove the seeds from the pith of pomegranates. My favorite way (the best option to work out some anger management issues) involves whacking pomegranate halves with a large metal ladle over a sturdy bowl. You can also cut the pomegranate in quarters and stick them in a bowl of water. Peel the seeds from the pith to easily release them. If you need further brushing up on your pomegranate skills, watch this video.

So even if you don’t buy into the whole pomegranate-brings-good-luck thing, there’s no harm in adding some extra antioxidants to your new year with the following recipes:

  1. Nadia G.’s DIY Vodka Bar with Spicy Pomegranate and Lemongrass Limeade Mixers (pictured) is the perfect (stress free) setup for a New Year’s Eve bash.
  2. Pear Crumble with Pomegranate Sauce utilizes pantry staples like all-purpose flour and steel-cut oats for a quick dessert.
  3. Raita is an Indian yogurt condiment that can be used as a dip, dressing or sauce. Nigella Lawson makes Pomegranate Raita to drizzle over Mughlai Chicken, Muttar Paneer and Pilaf for a Curry Banquet (though you could always just eat the raita on its own as a snack).
  4. Butter Lettuce, Mache and Pomegranate Seeds Dressed with Champagne Vinaigrette is exactly what your New Year’s resolutions called for.
  5. If you’re not ready to start on those resolutions yet, make a batch of frozen Pomegranate Margaritas or take your Pomegranate Margarita on the rocks.

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