The Healing Powers of Pomegranate + Recipes

img_2392There has been some debate of late as to whether pomegranates should be added to the list of so-called superfoods, those foods which are believed to help prevent, heal and recover from disease due to their powerful nutritional content. Studies both in labs, in test tubes and on small groups of humans show promising results. Many people now believe adding pomegranate to your diet can be nothing but beneficial in the prevention and treatment of chronic lifestyle diseases like Type II diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, weight gain, clogged arteries, certain cancers and so on.

Pomegranates are berries which grow on a small shrub and it is the bright seeds which are eaten or juiced, the flesh and peel being tough and inedible.

These jewelled fruits are high in antioxidants, coming in at a massive 3 x those found in red wine and green tea, they are good sources of Vitamin A, C, and K, potassium, B5 and other B Complex compounds as well as being high in soluble and insoluble fibre. This makes pomegranates an effective anti-inflammatory weapon to help protect against asthma, arthritis, breast and colon cancers and diseases of the digestive tract.

Some studies indicate that daily pomegranate juice (unsweetened) may lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and increase blood circulation and even reduce accumulated fat in arteries. It is also suggested this regimen can benefit heart patients by improving heart function and boosting immunity.

Due to its fat-clearing and anti-inflammatory properties, pomegranates can also help with weight loss as the fibre content helps reduce extra fat deposits and keep bowel movements regular.

All in all, this berry appears to lift above its weight in terms of nutritional and health benefits, so how do we use it?

img_2394I only recently started using pomegranates so I am still a novice, I have so far sprinkled the seeds on porridge on salad and in a smoothie.

This porridge bowl makes an excellent  start to the day or if you prefer a lighter breakfast of juice or smoothie, you could have this later as I do and it will keep you going for hours.

This breakfast contains protein, fibre, calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, healthy fats, probiotics for a healthy gut and lots of vitamins and minerals.

All ingredients are organic, vegan and glutenfree.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup Porridge Oats

21/2 Cups Non-dairy Milk (I had homemade almond milk, see How To Make Almond Milk)

A Small Handful of Cashew pieces (presoaked if you have time, to make them easier to digest. Swap for seeds or tiger nuts if you are nut-free)

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds*

1 Tbsp Lucuma Powder* (it has a mildly malted flavour and is full of nutrients)

Seeds from Half a Pomegranate

Small Handful of Goji Berries*

1 Heaped Tbsp CoYo Coconut (ie non-dairy) Live Yogurt

Cook the oats in the milk on a medium heat, stirring to prevent lumps and sticking, when it’s nearly done add the cashews and mix in well

Remove from heat, add the chia seeds and lucuma powder, stirring well

Pour into a bowl and top with pomegranate seeds, goji berries and yogurt.

Of course, you could be really adventurous and try my Cauliflower Oats (Don’t Laugh, It’s a Thing!) with peanut butter, banana and pomegranate seeds!

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*https://www.therawchocolatecompany.com/

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Banana Plum Smoothie with a Warming Dash of Cinnamon

imageThis is a mineral-rich smoothie with protein, fibre and omega fatty acids and a little warming cinnamon spice added now that Autumn is creeping in. Cinnamon has many health benefits including reducing spikes in blood sugar and lowering insulin resistance, as well as helping to balance your metabolism. Yellow plums are reputed to improve iron absorption, possibly due to their vitamin C content. Those with nut allergies can substitute the almond milk with tiger nut milk or any other non-dairy alternative.

All ingredients are organic, vegan and gluten-free, all measurements approximate.

Ingredients

1 Banana

1 Yellow Plum

2 Tbsps Golden Linseeds (lightly ground)

1 Heaped Tbsp Raw Hemp Seeds*

Glass of chilled Almond Milk (see here for how to make your own, it really is very easy and tastes much better than bought)

1 Medjool Date, pitted and chopped

A Dash of Cinnamon + another on top

 Blend and enjoy.

*from http://www.therawchocolatecompany.com/

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Love Brazils? Beware Potential Selenium Overload!

I got a shock the other day. I have been vegetarian for 40 years and was confident I was never short of any essential vitamins or minerals. I paid attention to what I ate, rarely ate junk food and took supplements when I felt the need. All tests have always come back normal. Since becoming vegan a year ago, I have researched which areas of my diet may need more rigorous attention and apart from a B12 supplement, I decided it was far better to eat a balanced, plant-based diet than to buy expensive supplements that I may or may not need and may or may not absorb on the off-chance that I may become slightly deficient.

 I had read that a good source of Selenium for vegans was Brazil nuts. Fantastic, I thought, I love Brazil nuts. They became my favourite morning snack. I would eat at least 6 and maybe 10 a day.

When I decided to research and write a series of posts on essential vitamins and minerals, I read about Selenium in a little more detail. That’s when I got the shock.

The BDA – the association of British Dieticians – recommends eating only 1-2 Brazil nuts a day and no more than 3-4 due to the possibility of Selenium toxicity!

The Adult RDA for Selenium is 55mcg (micrograms) with an upper limit of 400mcg.

I was consuming about 30g of Brazil nuts, which is approximately 575mcg of Selenium per day!

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(100g of Brazil nuts per month provides the requisite amount).

Selenium is required for healthy thyroid function, to strengthen the immune system, protect cells from damage, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The amount of Selenium in our foods has depleted due to poor quality soil and contaminated water and varies considerably according to where you live.

However, studies conducted on vegans in the UK, Germany, US and New Zealand (the latter has very low levels of selenium in the soil) showed that the majority were taking adequate amounts of Selenium.

Symptoms of Selenium toxicity include:

Hair loss, fatigue, irritability, white spots on nails, gastrointestinal disorders and neurological damage.

Stopping the excess Selenium and drinking lots of water usually reverses the damage.

Fortunately, I seem to have avoided these problems but I will miss my favourite snack.

Sources of Selenium:

Brazil  Nuts: 30g = 575mcg

Wholewheat Spaghetti 215g = 56mcg

Couscous: 140g = 39 mcg

Shitake Mushrooms 85g = 21 mcg

Wholewheat Flour 30g = 20mcg

Sunflower Seeds 30g = 16mcg

Sources: The Vegan Society

Rich Vegan Foods

Copyright: Chris McGowan