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 is 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, add one tablespoon of coconut oil and 2 cups of water, and  simmer for 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)

Gluten free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fortunately, Gluten free doesn’t have to mean cookie free, but gluten free cookies can be crumblier than traditional wheat flour cookies. The coconut flour and extra egg in the second recipe help to retain moisture and reduce the crumbliness somewhat. 

— and as my autoimmune health issues keep getting worse my baking skills keep stepping up to the cookie plate – see the third recipe for an egg free, butter free version that is still gluten free.

Glutamine is an amino acid that may be part of the sensitivity problem for people sensitive to wheat products but who don’t have the autoimmune condition Celiac disease/Celiac sprue. Glutamine is an amino acid that can cause actions to occur in the body, acting as a messenger chemical. Combined with excess glucose – sugar, glutamine and glucose in excess may be part of the underlying condition that promotes cancer cell growth. (Want cancer? Eat plenty of refined sugar say researchers [and glutamine too]) Eggs and egg white and wheat are considered good sources of the amino acid glutamine. (L-glutamine food sources) Egg: 0.559 grams glutamine and 1.014 grams glutamate. (glutamine content of foods derived by gene sequencing) But so is flaxmeal: 0.52 grams glutamic acid in 2 Tablespoons: (flaxmeal) The forms of amino acids are interchangeable but also may have different activities – it is complex and moderation is a good idea on National Cookie Day and any other day.

Plan ahead for National Cookie Day on December 4th and bake enough to have now and later. Cookies can be made ahead for the holidays and stored in the freezer after they are baked or as ready-to-bake cookie dough. Gluten free recipes can usually be adapted by substituting an equivalent amount of regular flour. Substituting white or whole wheat flour will work in either of the following recipes, 2 1/2 cups total flour for the first recipe and 3 to 3/14 cups for the second recipe – the corn flour is finely ground and dense compared to regular wheat flour.

The nutrient content of gluten free recipes can vary depending on the amount of flour or starch that is used. Gluten free cooking is important for people with some types of health conditions but it is not necessarily more nutritious for people of normal health and some of the products made with more starches may be less nutritious than wheat flour products. For the people with autoimmune sensitivities however it can be very important to avoid even trace amounts of gluten. the body makes autoimmune antibodies against gluten in response to encountering gluten.

It can take six months carefully following a gluten free diet before the autoimmune antibody levels decrease to normal but levels can normalize within a month on a gluten free diet for some. The person’s negative symptoms may not start feeling better immediately after they start a gluten free diet because of the circulating levels of autoimmune antibodies. The symptoms get better as the antibody levels decrease. Eating small portions or even trace amounts may cause an increase in the antibody levels again and a flair up in symptoms again. The autoimmune reaction by the body over time can cause chronic degenerative damage to the body so avoiding gluten may be helping a person have fewer symptoms on a daily basis and avoid long term damage to their body.

/Disclosure: This 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./

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies – version without corn flour, 11/3/2015

Makes 48-60 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20 minutes.

  • 2 sticks Butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • — mix the softened butter and sugar together and then mix in the eggs and vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • — add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly
  • 1 1/2 cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour
  • —- add the chocolate chips after the batter is mixed well
  • 1 ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips -the cookies also can be made without the chocolate chips

Form one inch balls of dough and roll them in white sugar if desired. Place about 24 per cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes unitl slightly golden brown. These are not low calorie cookies but they do contain more fiber than regular white flour cookies.

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies – with corn flour

Makes 48-60 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20 minutes.

  • 2 sticks Butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • — mix the softened butter and sugar together and then mix in the eggs and vanilla
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • — add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly
  • 1 cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Corn Flour, (such as the Maseca brand)
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour
  • —- add the chocolate chips after the batter is mixed well
  • 1 ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips -the cookies also can be made without the chocolate chips

Form one inch balls of dough and roll them in white sugar if desired. Place about 24 per cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown. These are not low calorie cookies but they do contain more fiber than regular white flour cookies.

The Egg free, Butter free – don’t need a refrigerator for the ingredients Version:

Spicy Chocolate Chip Cookies – without egg, butter, corn or wheat flour, or other gluten containing flours (which may include oatmeal).

Makes 48 cookies, bake at 350’F for approximately 20-25 minutes.

  • 3 Tablespoons Golden Flaxmeal, ground
  • 10 Tablespoons of Boiling Hot Water, – Step 1. Combine the flaxmeal and boiling water and stir together for a few minutes until the mixture is thickened and looks a little like a watery porridge. Then add the melted coconut oil, brown sugar, vanilla and apple cider vinegar, stir and set aside until later.
  • 1 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar (This is needed in the corn free version of the recipe in order to make the Baking Soda work properly as a leavening agent. Baking Powder has corn starch and it also has an acidic ingredient that Baking Soda doesn’t have.)
  • Step 2 (actually step 1 combined several actions): — add the dry ingredients to a different larger bowl and mix it together thoroughly:
  • 3/4 cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/2 and 1/8 teaspoon Baking Soda (*Baking Powder has corn starch)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder – this spice works well with the flavor of buckwheat flour. It tastes a little like cinnamon but is not quite the same.
  • Step 3: — mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly.
  • Step 4: — add the chocolate chips after the batter is mixed well.
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a ten or twelve ounce package of Dark Chocolate or Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. This batter is greasy seeming and the chips constantly pop out of the dough so I don’t even try to add a full package. It is easiest to work with the dough when the mix is more wet than dry, more like muffin batter than a typical “cookie dough“.
  • Step 5: — Preheat oven to 350’F., and form cookies with a scoop or with a pair of metal spoons as the batter is sticky and might even work in a cookie press if there weren’t chocolate chips. Form approximately one inch size balls of dough. Place about 24 on a pre-oiled or nonstick cookie sheet.
  • Step 6: — Bake in the center of the oven and/or rotate the top and bottom pans after 15 minutes of baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden brown.
  • Step 7: — Allow to cool slightly before eating and store in an airtight container once they are cool enough to no longer be emitting steam. The cookies keep for about a week or until they are all eaten, whichever happens first. They can also stored in the freezer once they are baked or as a cookie dough to be formed into cookies and baked at a later time for a treat fresh out of the oven with less work.
  • For freezer preparation — To form cookie dough into ready to cut and bake tubes of dough for the freezer, roll out a sheet of waxed paper on a clean countertop. Spritz it with a cooking spray oil and sprinkle the waxed paper with some ground flaxmeal. With oily hands put the dough on the waxed paper and form it into a long tube like log of dough about two inches thick, and then roll it up into the waxpaper. Store the paper wrapped tube in a larger plastic freezer bag or container.  A batch of cookie dough would make about two and half “tubes” of dough – the length of a square of waxpaper.  Each would make approximately one cookie sheet of cookies.

-The cookies also can be made without the chocolate chips or with other additions such as chopped nuts or dried currents or raisins.

These are not low calorie cookies but they do contain more fiber and antioxidant rich ingredients than regular white flour cookies, or gluten free cookies that are based on fiber free refined starches instead of whole grain flours.

  • 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.
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)