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The Pervasive Pomegranate

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: June 6, 2008, from the January 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

“Eat the pomegranate, for it purges the system of envy and hatred.”

—The Prophet Muhammad

This fabled fruit has been a topic of conversation in many cultures throughout the ages. It was detailed in ancient documents such as the Egyptian Ebers Papyrus—the oldest and most important medical document yet recovered—and the Bible. In one version of Greek mythology, Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and was trapped in the Underworld. It was a rule of the Fates that anyone who consumed anything there was doomed to remain for eternity. Hades tricked Persephone into eating six pomegranate seeds, and she was condemned to the Underworld for six months of every year, causing her mother, Demeter—the goddess of the Harvest—to mourn. Because of this, all green things were said to cease their growth during these six months. This was the Greeks’ explanation for the changing seasons.

The pomegranate recently has experienced a resurgence in popularity, due to its incredibly high content of potent antioxidants called polyphenols—especially those of ellagic acid and punicalagins, which are strong free radical scavengers.

Between the size of an orange and a grapefruit, one pomegranate delivers 40% of an adult’s daily vitamin C requirement and is a rich source of folic acid. It features a thick reddish skin and is filled with edible seeds surrounded by a bright red pulp. It has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region for several millennia.

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