When I was a teenager I loved to watch my hamster stuff her cheeks with pomegranate seeds, turning her lips and paws red in the process. I’ve never eaten pomegranate seeds – it seems too much work to prise them out of their tough rinds, but I do enjoy the juice, which is both sweet with the tartness of cherries or cranberries.
I’ve never seen a pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) and likely won’t given they only grow in hardiness zones 7-10. It’s an ancient fruit native to Persia (Iran), that has spread to Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean. It was brought by the Spaniards to the Caribbean and South America in the 16th century.
The Romans referred to it as an apple (hence the name, meaning apple seed), but it’s actually a berry. Inside the hard rind are segments separated by thin white, bitter-tasting membranes which contain arils, a combination of both the seeds and juice.
References to the fruit can be found in the mythology of the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks; the Bible and Talmud; and featured in major works of art. Traditional medicine from India (Ayurveda) , the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians used pomegranate for a number of health issues. In more recent times, it has been shown to have many beneficial effects: antiparasitic, lowers fat and glucose in the bloodstream, and decreases tumour growth.
Pomegranates, grown as a dwarf shrub or up to a 35’ tree, are known for their healthy red fruits, that contains hundreds of edible seeds, which are high in antioxidants; fibre; vitamins A, B9 (folate), C, E, K; potassium; and fatty acids.
There are a number of commercial products available: powder, arils, jelly, juice, tea, oil and capsules. I occasionally get free pomegranates through our local food recovery program, slice them in half and offer raw to my flock.
Benefits For Chickens:
- Several in vitro studies showed that pomegranate extract may inhibit growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, Diplococcus pneumoniae, Salmonella enteritidis, Listeria monocytogenes, Yersinia enterocolitica, E.coli and Candida albicans.
- Rich source of antioxidants (protects against cell damage).
- Two studies have shown that fruit extract inhibits malignant cell growth and induces normal cell regeneration.
- Prevents collagen degradation and may inhibit joint issues related to osteoarthritis.
- Chickens fed pomegranate seed extract had increased ability to digest fats.
- Increases lactobacillus (beneficial bacteria) in the caecum.
- Stimulates immune system and improves intestinal health.
- Meat birds fed dried pomegranate peel had increased ability dealing with heat stress; enhanced growth and better feed conversion
Like other fruit, pomegranates contain sugar, so feed in moderation.
Credits: Animal Biotechnology; Food Chemistry; Gardening Know How; Herbal Gram; Parasitology Research; Poultry DVM; Wikipedia. Featured Photo: Adventures In Living