Superfoods available from the Burchell Nursery include almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, olives, oranges, walnuts and the category’s new star, pomegranates
Over the centuries, pomegranates have symbolized fertility, hope and prosperity. In our times, they have become the rising star of the superfoods movement.
Demand for pomegranate juice or as an ingredient has grown rapidly. Michael Hughes, market analyst and author of the report Super Food and Drinks: Consumer Attitudes to Nutrient Rich Products, states that the pomegranate is currently one of the most in-demand superfoods. Between January 2005 and May 2007, there was a 500% increase in the number of products using pomegranate as an ingredient compared to the period between 1999 and 2004.
According to Epunica, a manufacturer of machines for processing pomegranates, a total of 478 new pomegranate products hit the market in 2006 alone, including 19 desserts, 32 sauces, 17 spreads, and 216 new pomegranate drinks—not the least of which was the Starbucks Pomegranate Frappucino.
The upswing is popularity is undoubtedly due to the attention being given to the health benefits of the fruit. The Pomegranate Council proudly touts its namesake as one of the most nutritious fruits you can eat, high in vitamin C and potassium, a good source of fiber and loaded with polyphenols. According to the Council’s website, www.pomegranates.org, “The three types of polyphenols—tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid—are present in many fruits, but pomegranate juice contains particularly high amounts of all three. As antioxidants, they are credited with helping in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.”
Red wine and green tea are often touted for their antioxidant properties, but the levels found in pomegranates are thought to help neutralize almost twice as many free radicals as red wine and seven times as many as green tea. This makes pomegranates an increasingly popular weapon for slowing the aging process.
The Pomegranate Council states about 250 growers in California produce almost all the domestic pomegranate crop on approximately 14,000 acres, mostly in the central and southern San Joaquin Valley. They grow several different varieties, the most popular being the Wonderful and Early Wonderful varieties.