Why Pomegranate Seeds Are So Good for You

The red seeds contain nutrients that aid in lowering cholesterol and preventing muscle cramps.

Pomegranate seeds are high in antioxidants and can aid in preventing muscle cramps and lowering cholesterol. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user little blue hen.

The pomegranate may look unassuming from the outside–but cut one open and you’ll find bright red seeds in the shape of a flower, just waiting to be popped into your mouth.

Pomegranates and their edible seeds are native to Iran and Iraq, but the fruit has become a favorite worldwide–and not because it’s pretty to look at. Pomegranate seeds (the pulp of pomegranates isn’t edible) are high in antioxidants, and clinical trials have found they may play an effective role in the prevention of heart disease and cancer.

They also aid in lowering cholesterol levels and fighting cell damage, adds local nutritionist Robyn Webb. One pomegranate contains approximately 50 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C, as well as pantothenic acid (B5), which may help with muscle cramping and prevent insulin resistance.

Read on for Webb’s favorite ways to include pomegranate seeds in your diet.

How to choose: Since pomegranates are in season from September to January, right now you’re more likely to find them in stores as prescooped, packaged seeds. Webb says it’s easier to buy them already scooped, but “be careful the seeds are not exposed to prolonged air or sunlight, as that will cause some destruction of its vitamin content.”

How to eat: The seeds are most commonly eaten raw. Says Webb: “I usually never heat them, as they are too pretty to cook!” Try them sprinkled over salads, swirled into yogurt, or blended into a smoothie. Webb’s delicious go-to creation? She mixes them with roasted red peppers, walnuts, and olive oil, and purées it all into a Middle Eastern-inspired dip. For another tasty treat, try her salad recipe below.

Recipe to try:

Robyn Webb’s Pomegranate Salad
½ cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
3 scallions, chopped
1 large pomegranate, seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Mixed greens

Mix the walnuts and scallions together in a serving bowl. Add the pomegranate seeds, olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper. Serve over mixed greens.

Other recipes to try:

Food52’s Salty Sweet Apple Fennel Salad with Pomegranate Seeds Recipe

Martha Stewart’s Pomegranate Fontina Rice Balls