Monday, November 5, 2007

Seeds of Youth

Pomegranates have always been intimidating, haven’t they? They're beautiful but dangerous, squirting their permanent red juice everywhere when you try to wrestle the seeds out. But this holiday season, some local markets have gotten smart and hung a how-to sign next to baskets of the knobby red fruit.

The secret, it turns out, is to break apart pomegranates underwater. Here’s the trick: Score the leathery rind, and then submerge the fruit in a bowl of water while you break apart the segments and tease the seeds free from the white pith. The pith floats, so it's easy to skim off. Pour the rest through a colander and in minutes you'll have hundreds of seeds and no stains!

Pomegranate seeds are worth the trouble because they're an antiaging, skin-protecting, cancer-fighting powerhouse -- a true RealAge food. Each bittersweet seed is packed with anthocyanins, vitamin C, lycopene, and resveratrol. Research in humans has shown that the juice reduces several risk factors for heart disease and inhibits tumor growth. But the star of the show, beauty-wise, is ellagic acid.

"Ellagic acid increases the body's built-in supply of glutathione, an antioxidant that both protects DNA and helps recycle estrogen, which protects skin cells. It also inhibits certain enzymes in ways that give cells time to divide normally," explains Los Angeles dermatologist Howard Murad, MD, who has been putting pomegranate extract in his line of skin care products for nearly 20 years.

The ancient Greeks believed that eating this "apple of many seeds" might lead to immortality. And, hey, anything that keeps skin cells plump a little longer, maintains a healthier heart, and holds promise for preventing cancer has got to be good, right?

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