Pomegranates have been cultivated for over 4,000 years. Our word pomegranate dates back to around 750 B.C. and comes from the Latin “Punicum malum” meaning “Phoenician apple.” Today the fruit is often called a “Chinese apple.” Despite its frequent comparison to an apple, the pomegranate bears a striking resemblance to the female ovary. It is not too surprising, then, that it served as a symbol of fertility for the Zoroastrians and other ancient cultures. Modern women at midlife have many options when it comes to dealing with those nasty menopausal symptoms like mood swings, depression, bone loss, and fluctuating estrogen levels. But their most surprising and multi-tasking source of natural relief may come from an ancient food: the juicy pomegranate.
But the pomegranate’s resemblance to the female ovary goes beyond its physical similarities. The fruit also provides the same estrogens as the female ovary – estradiol, estrone and estriol.
What does this mean for a menopausal woman? It may very well mean relief from depressive moods and a lower risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer and heart disease.
Bone Loss Reversed In a 2004 study in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, rats who had their ovaries removed suffered accelerated bone loss, a typical symptom of menopause. When they were fed an extract of pomegranate juice and seeds for just 2 weeks, however, their bone mineral loss reverted to normal rates.
Mood Improvement The same Japanese researchers in the 2004 study also found that the rats given pomegranate extract measured lower levels of depression indicators. Based on their results the authors found it conceivable that pomegranate would be clinically effective for women exhibiting a depressive state.
How do pomegranates work their magic? An 8 ounce glass of pomegranate juice contains about 40% of the RDA of vitamin C, and also is rich in vitamins A and E and folic acid.
The pomegranate fruit contains antioxidants called phytochemicals, which protect plants from harmful elements in the environment. These same phytochemicals when ingested protect the cells in our body. The juice has been found to contain higher levels of antioxidants than most other fruit juices, including cranberry or blueberry, and more even than red wine or green tea.
Drink the juice or eat the seeds (yes, they are edible) to reap the benefits of this menopause miracle. The seeds are available dried and sweetened and you can just throw a handful on top of salads or into your yogurt. You can find them at specialty stores, some supermarkets or online at Amazon.com.