Pomegranates are a healthful holiday fruit

Posted Dec. 26, 2011, at 10:40 a.m.
Georgia Clark-Albert
Georgia Clark-Albert

I couldn’t let the season go by without commenting on the nutritional benefits of the pomegranate. If you aren’t familiar with pomegranates, they are that round, red fruit about the size of a softball that shows up in the grocery store this time of year. If you have never tried one, it is worth the investment.

Pomegranates and pomegranate juice have received a lot of attention lately.

Preliminary studies have found that pomegranate juice is associated with reducing heart disease risk factors, including lower LDL (the bad) cholesterol.

Some people think pomegranates are just too messy to eat. The best way to approach them is to cut them in half and pry out the pulp-encased seeds. Be careful though because the seeds can stain your clothes and skin.

They are low in calories and high in fiber so they make a great addition to any meal or snack. If you don’t want to try them fresh, Trader Joe’s carries frozen pomegranate seeds –- something definitely new to me. Some ways to enjoy them frozen include adding to oatmeal for breakfast, putting on top of Greek yogurt, adding to a fruit salsa, pureeing and heating as a sauce for chicken or pork or sprinkling on salads. If you’d rather try the juice, that also is available.

Pomegranates are considered a nutritional powerhouse. They are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, fiber, iron and anthocyanins –- a type of antioxidant found in purple and red foods.

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, helps sustain muscle tissues and blood vessels and aids in the development of collagen, which helps your body take in iron.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is necessary for proper blood coagulation.

Potassium is an electrolyte that helps manage blood pressure and aids in proper hydration and building of strong bones. Iron is needed for the body to make hemoglobin, the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to other body tissues. And last but not least, fiber allows for healthy and regular digestion and can help to lower LDL cholesterol.

One 4-inch diameter pomegranate provides 234 calories, 3 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of dietary fiber and 48 percent of your vitamin C for the day.

Pomegranate orange ginger shrimp

Ingredients:

½ cup pomegranate juice

⅓ cup orange juice

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ pound raw shrimp, peeled

2 green onions, sliced (optional)

Preparation:

Mix together all ingredients except for the shrimp and heat over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until it thickens into a glaze. Reserve 2 tablespoons of glaze for dipping.

Increase heat to medium. Add shrimp directly to pan. Cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 2 minutes until shrimp are light pink in color. Remove shrimp from heat. Sprinkle with green onions and serve with reserved glaze.

Shrimp can be prepared on the grill instead. Thread shrimp on skewers. Spray grill with nonstick cooking spray and heat to 400 degrees. Cook shrimp for approximately 4 minutes, flipping and basting every 60 seconds, until the shrimp is light pink in color. Remove shrimp from grill and garnish with green onions. Serve with reserve glaze.

Makes 4 servings. Each serving: 83 calories, 11 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams protein, 0.3 grams fat.

Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian and adjunct nutrition instructor at Eastern Maine Community College who lives in Athens. Read more of her columns and post questions at bangordailynews.com or email her at GeorgiaMaineMSRDCDE@gmail.com.

 

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