Pomegranates have many vital vitamins and minerals. They also contain polyphenols, tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid, all highly beneficial phytonutrients that lower the risk of many diseases. All act as antioxidants, helping disarm damaging free radicals as they form. Most valuable, these phytonutrients might inhibit the initiation/growth of cancer cells. They also help the immune system with antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Pomegranates also help thin the blood, increasing blood flow, oxygen delivery to tissues and exchange of compounds to and from organs. Thinning blood and donating antioxidants prevents cholesterol from being converted into a sticky form that begins the process of plaque buildup. The polyphenols and folate help protect and maintain elasticity in the blood vessels, which lightens the pumping load on the heart. Pomegranates are one of the richest sources of dietary fiber among fruits, promoting smooth digestion, regulating blood sugar and lowering high cholesterol. Research shows that pomegranates contain a phytonutrient capable of blocking an enzyme that breaks down cartilage in humans and other animals.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – K, C, B9 (Folate), B1 (Thiamin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B3 (Riboflavin) and E
Minerals – Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Zinc
Pomegranate is a promising fruit to eat for reducing the risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis and cancers of the breast, lung, prostate and colon.
How to Grow
Native to the Middle East, these specialty fruits add beauty to the landscape with their glossy green leaves and glowing giant red-orange flowers. They are well adapted to many climates, but need a hot, dry summer for fruits to ripen. Plant them in deep soil with great drainage in a sunny site sheltered from strong winds. They will naturally develop into a bush or a small tree up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. They can also be pruned as a hedge to conform to the shape of the yard or to look pretty. Planting from both seed and cuttings are the most popular methods. If you already have a pomegranate tree, cut off one of the suckers and transplant it as a cutting. Sow seeds after the first frost in the spring and/or plant cuttings in warmer weather (late spring to summer). You can get pomegranate cuttings 1-2 feet long in February or March. Work in compost or planting mix rich in organic matter and nutrients. Plant them so that 2/3 of the cutting is covered in soil. When the plant is young, water more often (every two days) to stimulate growth and help it get established. Once growth accelerates, and the tree sets a solid root foundation (about 2 months), give one deep watering every couple of weeks. Fertilize twice a year (once in early spring and fall) to help the plant grow strong, hardy and insect resistant. If you plant from cuttings, the tree should bear after 3 years. You may get a few in the season before. Harvest when they are the correct ripe color for the variety you are growing (ranging from purple and red to pink).
Pomegranates usually are unaffected by pests or diseases that threaten yields in the home garden. Aphids are the most common but rarely leave damage behind unless the infestation is large and resilient. Monitor your plants. If aphids come, spray them off with a strong stream of water. Or plant French marigolds to attract their predators (ladybugs and hover flies) which eat aphids by the thousands. If something else comes up, photograph the pest and see your local nursery or agricultural extension office.
Check with the nursery to see which cultivar is best suited to grow in your area. Remember, they need a hot, dry summer for fruit to ripen. Watch for shoots growing up from the base of the trunk. These are suckers and should be pruned and discarded or replanted