A pomegranate is a fruiting deciduous shrub or tree growing to between five and eight meters tall. The pomegranate is native to the Iranian Plateau and is widely cultivated around the world and has been bred into over 400 varieties.
The pomegranate fruit has a tough outer casing and when ripe, it can be eaten out of hand by cutting off the crown end and removing with it some of the white pith. Then lightly score the skin in quarters, from the stem to the crown end. Firmly yet gently break the sections apart, following the score lines. Bend back the skin and gently scoop the seed clusters (sacs) into a bowl; remove and don't eat any pith. The sacs also make an attractive garnish when sprinkled on various dishes.
Pomegranate fruits are most often consumed as juice which can be used in a variety of of ways: as a fresh juice, to make jellies, sorbets or cold or hot sauces as well as to flavor cakes, baked apples, etc. and pomegranate syrup is sold commercially as grenadine.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the pomegranate is extensively used as a source of traditional remedies. The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree are used as traditional remedies against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. The seeds and juice are considered a tonic for the heart, throat and are classified as a bitter-astringent (pitta or fire) component under the Ayurvedic system, and considered a healthful counterbalance to a diet high in sweet-fatty (kapha or earth) components. The astringent qualities of the flower juice, rind and tree bark are considered valuable for a variety of purposes, such as stopping nose bleeds and gum bleeds, toning skin, (after blending with mustard oil) firming-up sagging breasts and treating hemorrhoids. Pomegranate juice (of specific fruit strains) is also used as eyedrops as it is believed to slow the development of cataracts.
Pomegranates are high in fibre but that fibre is contained entirely contained in the seeds which also contain unsaturated oils and other micronutrients. They are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and antioxidants.
It is also believed that juice consumption may also reduce systolic blood pressure, inhibit viral infections and pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.
Avoid when trying to conceive or if you are pregnant
Pomegranate has been used as a contraceptive and abortifacient by means of
consuming the seeds, or rind, as well as by using the rind as a vaginal
suppository. This practice is recorded in ancient Indian literature, in Medieval
sources, and in modern folk medicine.