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Pomegranates are a beautiful fruit, with shiny red "jewels" called arils inside, containing sweet, juicy nectar that surrounds a white seed in the middle.

While opening a pomegranate and freeing the jewels from the fruit is hard work, you might be making it even more difficult by spitting out the seeds.

Despite some popular opinions, pomegranate seeds can be eaten - and they are good for you, too!

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Pomegranate is an extremely healthy fruit. Many people pop them open, scoop out the seeds and eat them whole.

Others suck the juice off each seed before spitting the white fibrous middle out.

The latter group may be missing out on some of the pomegranate's health benefits.

Nutrients

Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. The majority of that fiber is found in the white seeds hiding beneath the pockets of juice. It contains 48 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C intake, important for a variety of health functions.

Low calorie

With 234 calories in an entire pomegranate, it's a relatively low-calorie food. This makes them a delicious and ideal snack for anyone watching their weight.

Antioxidants

Pomegranate seeds contain a high number of antioxidants, which help protect the body against inflammation and free radical damage. There are also antioxidants in the peel, though few people eat pomegranate peels. These antioxidants, referred to as polyphenols, include tannins, flavonoids, and anthocyanin.

The only potential danger of pomegranates lies in the risks it presents to dogs. Some dogs may experience extreme digestive distress due to the tannins and acids within pomegranate fruits. So keep them away from Fido!

In North America, you're most likely to find pomegranates in late summer to early winter, when the fruits are in season. However, some grocers import pomegranates from the Southern Hemisphere, offering them throughout the year.

Heating pomegranate seeds can get rid of some of their flavor, so it is best to eat them fresh and raw or as a garnish.

1. Choose the right ones

Choosing ripe pomegranates is relatively easy, as those found in local grocery stores are picked when ripe. The fruit should be heavy, and the skin should be firm. Small scratches on the surface don't affect the fruit inside, so don't judge a pomegranate by its scarred skin!

2. Scoop right

Eating a pomegranate can be a messy venture, but is made neater when you actually eat the entire seed. Start by cutting the fruit in half. Then, spoon out the tiny red jewels into a bowl. You can add the seeds to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, desserts, or whatever you want!

3. Make them last

Did you buy too many pomegranates to eat in one sitting? You can save the seeds by spreading them on a baking sheet and freezing them for two hours. Then transfer them to freezer bags and put them back in the freezer. This will make them last for up to one year.

4. Juice!

You can also juice pomegranates and save yourself the expense of buying it in a bottle. Plus, pre-bottled pomegranate juice can contain all sorts of other ingredients, including added sugar and sodium.

Use a juicer or simply squeeze the fruit, separating the fibers with a strainer. Use the juice to make something refreshing and delicious, like this recipe for basil pomegranate granita! Juice can be refrigerated for up to three days or kept in the freezer for up to six months.

5. Buy seeds on their own

You can purchase pomegranate seeds and obtain their many antioxidant benefits without needing to scoop and store them. From there, you can use them in a range of cooked and cold dishes as a garnish.

Click here to purchase pomegranate seeds online. Please note that clicking this link will take you to an external site.

Recommended daily amount

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that a person eats 2 cups of fruit per day. Pomegranates and their seeds are a nutrient-dense and low-calorie way to hit this target. They are available to purchase in many food stores, as well as online.

Pomegranates contain both health benefits and history. Despite beliefs to the contrary, the seeds within are both mild tasting and good for you. So the next time you have access to this "fruit of paradise," no spitting!