Pomegranates - little fruits packed full of good health

POMEGRANATES are hardly an "everyday" fruit like apples and oranges but based on what nutritionists have to say, perhaps they should be.

In the 21st century dieticians, nutritionists, naturopaths and even doctors are always talking about the benefits of antioxidants - and pomegranates are full of them.

Alongside blueberries and cherries, pomegranates offer some of the highest concentrations of antioxidants you can find.

Byron Shire nutritionist and naturopath Sally Patterson said evidence-based research had proven antioxidants lowered the risk of heart disease by reducing cholesterol.

They act to strengthen cells and mop up "free radicals" which are unstable molecules in the body and can be caused by anything from exposure to pesticides to taking too much of a certain medication.

Antioxidants include well known vitamins C and A.

And they are abundant in certain fruits.

"The deeper the colour of the fruit, generally the higher they are in antioxidants," Ms Patterson said.

"If you look at a sliding scale there are some fruits that are much higher in antioxidants than others, but the same fruit can also have widely different levels of antioxidants and vitamins.

"It's the fruit itself, but then also the quality of the production and transport of that particular fruit. An orange that's been imported is going to be very low in antioxidants, for example, whereas a local fresh seasonal fruit is going to much higher."

Ms Patterson said you could "never get enough" antioxidants, although different people had different needs.

People who smoke cigarettes and drink lots of coffee are bound to have many more free radicals in their body, and hence benefit from a higher antioxidant intake (alongside quitting smoking and cutting down on the coffee, of course).

There are two seasons for pomegranates - a late spring and late autumn variety.

They grow locally, so you can get them from local farmer's markets when they are in season along with supermarkets on occasions.

"They're really versatile and they look amazing," Ms Patterson said. "You can get pomegranate molasses... it's an Asian condiment and I know for example you can get it from Red Ginger in Bangalow and Byron and Baz and Shaz in Suffolk."

"Pomegranate husk is being researched for its medicinal properties as well."

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