Pomegranate health benefits, serving size and extract recipe summary

For ease of use, a summary of the links and information available about health benefits of pomegranate seeds, juice and peel; serving size information that is based on animal based research studies and my own use of different pomegranate ingredients; and a concise recipe for the pomegranate peel extract recipe that I’ve developed.

Health benefits of pomegranate:

Pomegranate extract has been studied in animal based research to examine in more detail how it helps hypertensive blood pressure problems and reduce oxidative stress. The mechanism was found to involve increasing Nrf2. The formation of mitochondria increased, and their function improved. Before treatment the hypertensive animals had fewer of the specialized proteins that are involved in production of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the cellular organelles primarily responsible for turning blood sugar/glucose into usable energy. (5)

This study uses a pomegranate extract that incorporates the peel, seeds and juice as all contain the bioactive phytonutrient, punicalagin, thought to be most helpful for anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-diabetic effects. The animals who received the extract were found to have better blood pressure, reduced heart hypertrophy ( a sign of worse heart health) and a lower heart rate. Neuronal/nerve cell activity and oxidative stress markers were decreased in the experimental treatment group compared to the control group which received a saline solution and no pomegranate extract. Angiotensin converting enzyme which is involved in blood pressure control was lower in the experimental group  that received pomegranate extract and may be the mechanism for the lower blood pressure. Pro-inflammatory cytokines were reduced in the experimental group after treatment, an indication that hypertensive inflammation was reduced. The pomegranate extract treatment led to increased levels of phosphorylated AMPK which then leads to an increase in Nrf2 and its resulting increases in antioxidant proteins which protect against injury and inflammation from oxidative stress chemicals. (5)

Serving size that might be needed for general health or for special health needs:

Animal based research used a range  of 1 – 10 grams/kilogram for 8 weeks was found to be beneficial for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (6); which for a human sized person might be equivalent to a  a quarter to a half cup to a couple cups per day. (See this post for more details) The larger dose would likely be most beneficial used in smaller amounts throughout the day or in a couple portions. For example: Half a cup per day might be used for someone who is less ill and someone with more severe illness or genetic needs such as myself (I can’t make phospholipids and the pomegranate seeds and peel are a source) might use up to a half a cup every three to four hours throughout the hours spent awake – or whatever helped the symptoms. If every cell of the body needs the substances, every hour of the twenty-four, then one dose one time per day might leave the body under-treated for most of the 24 hours and only relieve symptoms for a few hours. The peel extract has a diuretic effect so using it earlier in the day and having a few extra glasses of water is mentioned in more detail later in this section.

I have found 1/3 to 1/2 cup of fresh seeds or pomegranate juice per day to help relieve my symptoms of anxiety and finger numbness (similar to Raynaud’s Disease but no diagnosis). Other patient forum feedback suggests one capsule of commercially available pomegranate juice concentrate was also helpful for Raynaud’s disease finger numbness or pain. (Avoiding letting the hands get too cold also can help prevent the condition from feeling as painful rather than just being a constant numbness in the fingertips.)

If I have pomegranate extract on hand I use a few tablespoons to about  1/3 cup per day and find it even more beneficial for relieving symptoms of anxiety or nerve numbness. However it has a diuretic effect so it is better to use it earlier in the day rather than at dinnertime and to have plenty of water or other water based beverages early in the day so sleep isn’t interrupted with a need to relieve the bladder. It is important to drink a little extra water or the urge to urinate can be painful and produce little flow. The body removes acidity by making a more concentrated urine – so add water yourself or a dilute juice or herbal tea and the kidneys will also be removing other toxins too which may increase health benefits.

Dried powdered pomegranate seeds are available at some India food grocery stores or websites look for a small box labeled Anardana. It seems to be a dried powder of the whole seeds and it is gritty and tart with a fruit flavor. I added a couple tablespoons to a batch of soup and that seemed to soften the gritty effect. It was good added after cooking, giving a nice tartness but there was a slight gritty texture occasionally, not too noticeable though. Anardana Powder, dried pomegranate seed powder – an example of the product available online:

  • Yogijis.co.nz      Phone:  (03) 390 3434      Email: orders@yogijis.nz
  • Anardana Powder, Powder of Dried Pomegranate Seeds: net Wt. 100 g//3.5 oz for $3.99

An organic pomegranate juice concentrate is also available in the same quantity for a larger price. That seems like a lot of money for a 3.5 oz package which is slightly less than a half cup amount, unless you were comparing it to prepared capsules of a pomegranate product which might cost 20 to 30 dollars for one bottle of capsules:

  • Matakanasuperfoods.com, PO Box 18, Matakana 0948 New Zealand / Physical address: 108 Omaha Flats Rd. Auckland, New Zealand, Phone: 09 422 9618    Outside New Zealand:  +64 9 422 9618
  • Organic Pomegranate Juice Powder, 100g, $NZ 29,95

Sumac and Za’atar

A spice commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking and readily available at Middle Eastern grocery market may provide some similar health benefits to pomegranate. It is a dried powdered form of Sumac that has a lemony flavor. it is typically sprinkled on food individually at the table alone or in a mix with salt or with a few other spices and sesame seeds in a mixture called za’atar (link). I have found that using more than a half teaspoon  can cause the diuretic effect similar to the pomegranate extract’s effects. Studies on health benefits of Sumac have found benefit for a number of inflammatory conditions so using some in small amounts daily may have preventative health benefits against oxidative stress.

Pomegranate Extract Recipe  and Spicy variation:

Pomegranate Extract, basic recipe:

  • Peel and inner membrane of two pomegranates
  • Two to three cups of water
  • Two Tablespoons of Coconut oil
  1. Rinse the pomegranates before separating the seeds from the peel. Cutting the rind about a quarter inch deep in six sections can make it easier to open and remove the seeds. Save the juicy seeds for use fresh or place in a freezer container and store in the freezer for later use. Trim the peel to remove any spoiled or discolored spots on the outer peel or inner membranes. Discard. Rinse the remaining peel and chop into quarter to half inch sections.
  2. In a soup or stock pot place the chopped peel, water and coconut oil and bring to a gentle simmer and turn down the heat to continue at a gentle simmer. Try not to reach a vigorous boiling point. Simmer the mixture for 20-30 minutes while stirring occasionally to prevent the fibrous slightly sweet membrane particles from sticking to the pan.
  3. Remove from heat and strain the liquid into another large pan or bowl. The peel and membrane fiber is pulpy and can be rinsed with additional water to increase yield of the pulpy extract. Add one cup warm water and stir and strain the pulp and then add another one cup warm water, stir and strain, and maybe one or two more cups until the liquid seems more water like instead of a slightly thickened pale pinkish or creamy yellow color.
  4. Store the pomegranate extract in the refridgerator if it will be used in other recipes within a few days or freeze the excess in small containers for gradual use.
  5. It is very acidic and using a couple spoonfuls per day added to a soup or salad in place of lemon juice or vinegar can be a tasty way to use it. Diluting a few spoonfuls to 1/3 cup with an additional 2/3 cup of water or regular juice of some sort and adding a pinch of baking soda  can make it tolerable as a beverage. One third cup per day should provide adequate health benefits for someone using it for that purpose.

Pomegranate Extract made with dehydrated pomegranate peel

Repeat the above steps using pomegranate peel and membrane that had been prepared and diced into 1/4-1/2 inch sections and dehydrated for long term storage – planning ahead for when pomegranates were no longer in season. One pomegranate peel/membrane produced approximately 30 grams of dried peel and which measured at slightly less than a 1/2 cup of dried pieces loosely packed. Per one pomegranate amount of peel simmer with one tablespoon of coconut oil and 2 cups of water, about 20-30 minutes on low heat. After straining the heated peel I rinsed the peel with two cups of water poured over it gradually while stirring. The yield was three cups of pomegranate extract.

Spicy Pomegranate Extract, Slightly less acidic and slightly thickened and emulsified Spicy:

  • 6 cups of pomegranate extract  (previous post)
  • 2 Tablespoons Cardamom powdered spice
  • 1 teaspoon Gumbo File powdered spice (Sassafras Leaves, powdered and used in Gumbo soups or stews in Creole style cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  1. Add the Cardamom and Gumbo File to the Pomegranate Extract and stir well to break apart any dry lumps of the powdered spices. The Gumbo File acts as an emulsifier and is a digestive aid and the Cardamom adds flavor, phytonutrients and would help alkalize the mixture in addition to the alkalizing power of the Baking Soda.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Add the Baking Soda and stir. Remove the mixture from the heat and keep stirring. It will froth up and stirring helps keep it from frothing over the top of the pan. The color changes from pinkish to brown from the Cardamom spice.
  4. To drink as a beverage dilute with equal parts water to Pomegranate Extract.

 

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

References:

  • Claude Prigent, Editor, Protein Phosphorylation, Publisher: InTech, Chapters published November 29, 2017 under CC BY 3.0 licenseInTechOpen.com, https://www.intechopen.com/books/protein-phosphorylation (4)
  • Wenyan Sun, Chunhong Yan, Bess Frost, Xin Wang, Chen Hou, Mengqi Zeng, Hongli Gao, Yuming Kang,and Jiankang Liu,

    Pomegranate extract decreases oxidative stress and alleviates mitochondrial impairment by activating AMPK-Nrf2 in hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of spontaneously hypertensive rats., Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 34246.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054377/ (5)

  • Anupam Bishayee, Deepak Bhatia, Roslin J. Thoppil, Altaf S. Darvesh, Eviatar Nevo, and Ephraim P. Lansky.,  Pomegranate-mediated chemoprevention of experimental hepatocarcinogenesis involves Nrf2-regulated antioxidant mechanisms., Carcinogenesis. 2011 Jun; 32(6): 888–896. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3314278/ (6)

Cookies are great but so are crackers

 

Poma Bread – not quite a cracker, a little like Pita Bread. This is the last few of try number two at making crackers.

 The Gumbo File works so well as an emulsifier in the Molasses or Chocolate Cookies that it likely would help hold a crumbly cracker together too. If and when I set up my kitchen again here is a draft version of the cookie recipe as a potential cracker recipe – the exact amount of water/soup stock that would be needed would need to be determined by the texture of the dough.

Crackers are rolled out and cut into shape or pressed very thin before being baked. Some leavening with baking soda is traditional in the popular white flour square “Soda” crackers that are served with soups or topped with sliced cheese or other toppings. The gluten protein found in wheat flour and a few other flours forms a fibrous fabric like structure in a kneaded bread dough or cracker dough. Gluten free baking requires some other type of fiber to help form the fabric like structure that traps bubbles of air from the baking soda leavening long enough to be baked into an airy crisp texture. Whether or not Gumbo File could help serve the purpose would be an experiment. Gluten free crackers tend to be crisp and flat with only some airiness depending on the type of ingredients used.

Try number two is the same basic recipe as follows except I didn’t use any coconut oil or extra water. For liquid and added oil content I used a 13.5 ounce can of Organic Coconut Milk – full fat version, creamy instead of watery, 14 grams fat/2 grams carbohydrate per 1/3 cup. Try number two was baked in an oven set at 375’F for 20-30 minutes, Switch pans from top to bottom rack at 20 minutes bake time. Let cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator – they have a taste and texture similar to Pita Bread except are more the size and shape of crackers. Gluten free baked goods tend to fall apart more easily than gluten products and don’t hold air from leavening as well. When I try the recipe again I will go with the shorter bake time rather than attempting to get a crisp dry cracker – the recipe is not producing that quality but does make a moist square flat bread that is good with hummus bean dip or peanut butter type spreads.

Basic Cracker recipe draft

*Try number one worked basically. I had less coconut flour on hand and made up the difference with more of the other flours to equal a similar amount and I added about 3/4-1 cup of coconut oil and 1 1/2 cups water to make a cookie like dough. Making a single batch with half the ingredients would be easier to shape. I pressed rounds of dough flat in extra almond meal and they puffed slightly but remained moist inside with a skillet cooking. A longer slower baking might make them more cracker like instead of like a moist flat bread. Extra water in the dough to make a thinner batter would likely work for pancakes.

– the use of cardamom is somewhat of a pepper replacement and whether I used it or some other savory seasonings could be modified for a variety of cracker flavors if the basic recipe worked.

Dry ingredients, stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Coconut Flour
  • 1 1/2 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 cup Tapioca Flour/Starch
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Emulsifier step- gently heat Pomegranate Extract or Juice to a simmer in a saucepan then remove from heat and stir in the Gumbo File Powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups Pomegranate Extract or Vegetarian Soup Stock or Water (If Pomegranate Extract is not used then add 4 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice later – when the rest of the liquid is added. Baking Soda requires an acidic ingredient in the recipe which Pomegranate Extract provides.)
  • 6 Tablespoons Gumbo File Powder

Wet ingredients – in a another large bowl combine the thickened warm emulsifier liquid with the Brown Sugar and then stir in half of the remaining juice. Reserve part of the juice to add to the dry ingredients after first mixing in the emulsifier/sugar mixture. (This method is more like making a cake than a cookie, you combine small amounts of the liquid at a time for a smooth cake batter that is not over-stirred. In a kneaded bread dough or traditional Soda Cracker recipe the goal is to fold the dough repeatedly in somewhat regular motions and directions in order to ‘weave the fabric’ of the gluten structure. In gluten free baking without gluten the fiber network is not as regular and gentle handling and folding might support some leavening air bubbles but the traditional kneaded structure is not really possible. The goal with cake batter is to gently support a more delicate sponge like texture for air bubbles without a tough fabric dough formation.)

  • 2 1/2 cups Vegetarian Soup Stock or Water
  • (4 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice if Pomegranate Extract is not used)

The dough should be moist and able to be rolled or spooned into a sticky round shape that doesn’t crumble – a soft playdough-like consistency.

Sprinkle a counter top with some brown rice flour and roll the dough into a thin 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick sheet and cut into squares – or roll spoonfuls of dough into rounds and then flatten on a surface that is sprinkled with brown rice flour or sprayed with oil using a flat glass or plate. Place the crackers on a baking sheet that is covered with oil or sprinkled with brown rice flour. Brush the surface of the crackers with a lightly salted water mixture. Bake at 400’F for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans at a half way point, or until crispy.

Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian it is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance. Please seek an individual health care professional for the purpose of individualized health care guidance.

 

Revisiting superstition from the perspective of economics

What do imaginary goods, virtual cats and superstition have to do with each other? – Economics. ‘Imaginary goods’ is a term used by an Austrian economic theorist from the 1800’s, Carl Menger, to describe goods that might be sold but which did not meet all the criteria of a ‘goods‘ – a thing of value which could be sold or purchased. Imaginary goods could also be sold but they did not meet all of his criteria for ‘goods‘ because their value was more transient – in the imagination of the buyer and/or seller rather than clearly apparent to any normal consumer of goods.  (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

As I’ve been working on devising ways to make pomegranate peel edible I’ve been thinking about the idea of a market or demand for a good versus the actual value of the good. You can’t sell something of value if no one considers it valuable even if it fits the criteria of being ‘goods‘ – fulfilling human needs; while it recently was brought to my attention, a refresher course having grown up in era of ‘Pet Rocks,” that some people will pay for anything if it is popular – if other people are bidding on the item too. I was astonished as a child that anyone would pay real money for a rock in a box just because it was called a ‘Pet Rock‘ – just go outside, find a rock, stick it in a box – there you go, your very own ‘pet rock’ captured from its wilderness and tamed for your own enjoyment. The current trend that was brought to my attention is less solid but requires an imagination – virtual cats, bred to have unique characteristics, the bidding is based on the uniqueness of the characteristics (investopedia.com) – my thought, too much time or too much money, and too little space for a real pet cat.

People need love and affection as it promotes oxytocin and dopamine which are hormones that promote positive feelings.

For those with limited room in their lives for an expensive virtual cat, consider going outside and looking for a wild rock to tame instead.

Bringing this back around to the New Year’s Day topic of good luck black-eyed peas and the following day’s topic of superstition – Carl Menger includes in his examples of imaginary goods items that might be considered good luck charms and also medications that aren’t effective.

Pomegranate peel might be effective but until there is proof that it is effective there might not be a market of consumers willing to pay for it let alone even try it. So Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel -> make it appetizing and if people also feel good after eating it then they will return for seconds -> thus creating a market that hadn’t previously been known.

Carl Menger’s four criteria for what makes something a consumer ‘good’:

“If a thing is to become a good, or in other words, if it is to
acquire goods-character, all four of the following prerequisites
must be simultaneously present:

  1. A human need.
  2. Such properties as render the thing capable of being brought
    into a causal connection with the satisfaction of this need.
  3. Human knowledge of this causal connection.
  4. Command of the thing sufficient to direct it to the satisfaction
    of the need.” page 52 (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

According to his theory something can lose its value as a consumer good if it stops fulfilling any one of those four criteria, to paraphrase – if we 1: stop needing it because the problem it solved no longer exists, 2: the thing no longer works to solve the original problem  3: we forget that the thing is useful for fulfilling the need, 4: the thing is no longer something humans have access to (the WiFi goes out and the virtual cat breeding stops functioning) :

“Hence a thing loses its goods-character: (1) if, owing to a
change in human needs, the particular needs disappear that the thing is capable of satisfying, (2) whenever the capacity of the
thing to be placed in a causal connection with the satisfaction of
human needs is lost as the result of a change in its own properties,
(3) if knowledge of the causal connection between the thing and
the satisfaction of human needs disappears, or (4) if men lose
command of it so completely that they can no longer apply it
directly to the satisfaction of their needs and have no means of
reestablishing their power to do so.” -pages 52-53 (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English)

So for those who may have forgotten (reason #3), – caring for living people or pets can help one’s own health through increased oxytocin, dopamine and reduced oxidative stress. If owning a real pet is not possible due to housing issues visiting a local Humane Society type agency and volunteering to help care for the shelter animals is generally possible and appreciated. If money isn’t a problem hiring a human for a service that involves touch such as a manicure is helping others by providing money for jobs and providing oxidative stress reducing touch from the hands-on service. If owning a real pet or hiring human hands-on service isn’t possible than oxytocin, dopamine and possibly even reduction in oxidative stress may be provided by a caring relationship with a houseplant that cleans the air of toxins (ferns and other types), or by enjoying looking at art objects that have to do with nature or possible the touch of a smooth natural object such as a rock or crystal or wooden object.

While my search of oxidative stress and art didn’t turn up the link I was looking for it did find a review of research on male infertility, oxidative stress, antioxidants (vitamin E, C and CoQ10) and ART, assisted reproductive techniques, while it doesn’t mention iodine it’s worth saving for reference and smoking is mentioned as risk: http://ccf.org/reproductiveresearchcenter/docs/agradoc261.pdf

Smoking increases intake of formaldehyde as well as other toxins. There are also other common sources of formaldehyde in modern living environments. Tips for reducing risk of formaldehyde exposure and links for the houseplants that help detoxify indoor air from formaldehyde and other common volatile chemicals are included in an older post, Formaldehyde (volatile – chemicals that might be easily released from plastics or carpets into the air – ie “new car smell”).

The topic on nature and art and oxidative stress is discussed with links in the section Art – Food for the Eyes on another website, effectivecare.info, 10. food Helps Too.

Returning to the Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel,  – it is helping my mood and health more consistently than the 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds did but it is quite acidic. I’ve taken to using a couple spoonfuls in my bean soup instead of the lime juice or apple cider vinegar that I had been adding as a digestive aid. I’ve also tried it on salads in place of lime juice.

As a beverage I occasionally have the original blend of approximately 3 ounces of the pomegranate extract/soup stock with about 3 ounces of water and 1 ounce of cherry juice with four pinches of Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) to make it less acidic. Sugar is inflammatory in itself so I’v stopped using much of it. After the review of the blueberry/rhubarb jam recipe I bought some blueberries and will try a combination of the pomegranate extract with the less acidic fruit. Cherry juice is also acidic. Blueberry juice concentrate is available in specialty stores but I wasn’t at one.  The Baking Soda may be too much sodium or something in the pomegranate extract or the level of acidity it adds to the diet may have a diuretic effect like coffee – so like many things in life – it’s not perfect. But being sick isn’t either.

When you start thinking about food as fuel and as your body’s natural medicine cabinet then taste is something that can be acquired and adapted to suit the needs of health – but first the mind has to overpower the habit of “I always eat what my family ate, or what I got used to at college, or whatever my friends are eating.” Social settings and food are very strongly linked and it can be viewed as rude to refuse an offer of food that is being offered – sometimes life isn’t perfect either.

Good luck and best wishes all you Master Chefs out in virtual reader land – I know you can take on whatever culinary challenges you choose.

If at the beginning of 2017 someone predicted that I would successfully be using pomegranate peel, baker’s cocoa, cardamom, and leafy green herbs and vegetables instead of medical marijuana for my autoimmune health condition I might have thought they were imagining things – but Carl Menger was right we have to know the causal connection between a good and a problem it might solve before we go to the effort to purchase, prepare, and use the good for solving that problem/need (health care improvement in my case). pages 51-58, (Principles of Economics, by Carl Menger, a translation in English).

A tastes better than it looks salad – Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad.

Bring two and a half cups of water to a boil and add one cup quinoa (or amaranth or cracked wheat for a more traditional tabouli like salad). Cook for twenty minutes at a simmer. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the saucepan. Once the water is fully absorbed remove the pan from the heat and add about (all of the following ingredients are estimates except for the avocado- this is a first try) one tablespoon coconut oil and stir into the hot cooked cereal. Add about one cup of frozen or fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen or fresh pomegranate seeds, 1/4 cup pomegranate peel extract, one chopped ripe avocado, one tablespoon dried tarragon and one tablespoon dried basil (or more if fresh is available), and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Stir the mixture thoroughly. The cereal will turn purplish color from the blueberries. Serve a cup or so of the mixture over a plate of chopped salad greens and top with a pretty 1/8th cup of fresh or frozen pomegranate seeds.

I always add salt to taste at the table. We taste only the salt on the surface of food, not what has been cooked into a food or stirred into a mixture as much.

The flavors and textures work well together, sweet and tanginess from the fruit, creaminess from the avocado, quinoa and coconut oil. Tarragon adds flavor, the basil is milder and wasn’t noticeable in the amount I added here. Tarragon has a slightly minty flavor. The walnut is a stronger flavor and the crunch and flavor balance with the flavor of the blueberries and crunch of the pomegranate seeds. This was a success flavor and texture-wise no matter what it looks like and it would be nutritionally balanced with protein, essential fats and carbohydrates and plenty of fiber and trace nutrients and antioxidants. Walnuts and blueberries have both been found effective for cardiovascular health and male health issues.

Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad
Blueberry Pomegranate Avocado Quinoa Salad.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.