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The Pervasive Pomegranate

Cathy Christensen 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.

In the kitchen

The fruit’s juice is a popular beverage throughout the world. Pomegranate seeds sometimes are used as a spice known as anardana in Indian and Pakistani cuisine. The seeds also can be eaten raw, and often are used in dressings and sauces to complement other fruits and meats. At the Canyon Ranch Café in The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, the SpaClub Vegetable Stir-Fry is served over brown rice with a light soy pomegranate sauce. Quench your thirst with a delicious Tangerine-Pomegranate Refresher during the fall at The Huntington Hotel & Nob Hill Spa in San Francisco. Also see the refreshing recipe Fresh Melon and Prosciutto With Pomegranate Vinaigrette, courtesy of Chef Ric Pielstick, of The Chanric Inn in Calistoga, California.

In the spa

In addition to its high polyphenol content, the pomegranate also is extremely effective in increasing gluthathione—a natural antioxidant in the body that helps to protect DNA from free radical damage and assists in recycling hormones that aid in protecting skin cells. Cuccio Naturalé’s Pomegranate & Fig Butter Blend Anti-Aging Formula for the hands includes time-releasing emollients for increased staying power and hydration. Infused with pomegranate seed oil, T’Zerah’s Forbidden Fruit Collection includes five rejuvenating products. June Jacobs Spa Collection’s Cranberry Pomegranate Moisture Masque utilizes pomegranate’s ellagic acid for its antioxidant energy, soothing and rejuvenating powers, and protective effects on the skin. Murad’s Vitalic Regimen includes Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser, Treatment and Moisturizer SPF 15 to liven up dull skin.

New Age Health Spa in Neversink, New York, features the Paradise Mountain Rain signature treatment that is topped off with a luxurious pomegranate and cranberry body butter. Enjoy an exotic twist with the Signature Aromatherapy Manicure and Pedicure at the Spa at Stoweflake in Stowe, Vermont, featuring pomegranate essential oil. The Cranberry-Pomegranate Renew Package at Penny House Inn & Spa in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, infuses skin with hydration and antioxidants, and begins with a salt scrub that includes pomegranate seeds. To brighten skin, check out the Pomegranate & Grape Seed Body Exfoliant at Cottontail Creek Ranch in Cayucos, California, which finishes with a pomegranate scrub. The Pomegranate Salt Glow at The Spa at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, renews skin with rich antioxidants to reveal a youthful radiance, and the Spa at Stonehedge at the Stonehedge Inn in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, offers the Wine Barrel Soak with a bubble bath that includes pomegranate extract.

A juicy staple

This exotic yet ancient fruit has become a juicy staple in spa treatments, products and cuisine. Its heritage carries with it high expectations of something close to magical, and its actual components have proven, in the present day, to nearly deliver on this claim. Clients will benefit from the age-defying powers of the pomegranate in products and treatments, and will savor its tart-sweet flavor in dressings, drinks and sauces featured in your spa cuisine.

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Spa Cuisine Recipe: Fresh Melon and Prosciutto with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Fresh Melon and Prosciutto with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

From Chef Ric Pielstick, The Chanric Inn, Calistoga, California

Makes 8 servings

This dish is excellent as an appetizer or as a first course for a decadent brunch.

Fresh Melon and Prosciutto

1⁄2 cantaloupe, honeydew, crenshaw or other melon peeled, seeded and sliced lengthwise into wedges

8 slices prosciutto

1⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds


2 teaspoons Pomegranate Glaze* or pomegranate juice reduced in half

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar*

1⁄2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

A dash of kosher or sea salt

1. Combine vinaigrette ingredients, and whisk with a fork until emulsified.

2. Arrange melon on individual plates.

3. Drape prosciutto slices over melon wedges, and drizzle vinaigrette over the tops, using a fork.

4. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

*Available at specialty foods shops

Spa Cuisine: Pomengranate Quick Facts


  • The ancient Egyptians were buried with pomegranates, and the Babylonians believed that chewing the seeds of the fruit before battle made them invincible.
  • Pomegranate juice is used for natural dyeing of nonsynthetic fabrics.
  • Grenada, an island nation off the coast of South America, was named after the Spanish and French word for pomegranate.
  • The pomegranate gave its name to the hand grenade due to its shape and size, and to the garnet for its color.
  • The red flowers from the pomegranate bush are called balaustine.
  • In the summer of 2006, Starbucks introduced a pomegranate frappuccino because of the fruit’s popularity in American markets.

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