Video: Magic fruit?

By Jane Wells Correspondent
CNBC
updated 3/24/2006 5:57:21 PM ET 2006-03-24T22:57:21

Its name comes from the Old French word “pomme grenate,” which in English means “seeded apple,” and the Middle East grows the most in the world. But today the pomegranate, with its thick reddish skin, is an all-American trend.

Legend has it that the pomegranate has been around for some 5,000 years, and in the Garden of Eden, Eve may have actually handed Adam a pomegranate, and not an apple.

Eve may have been on to something. Research indicates that pomegranates have among the highest levels of disease-fighting anti-oxidants — more than most other foods, or fruits.

And now the pomegranate is the fruit and the flavor of the moment, but you might find them difficult to locate. We found the shelves at Whole Foods empty, but we found gallons of pomegranate juice made by several companies.

“It’s really a healthy juice, a healthy fruit; something I recommend to my patients as part of a healthy diet,” said Dr. Harley Liker, medical director at POM Wonderful, a privately-held company that makes a brand of pomegranate juice.

The pomegranate has amounted to a healthy business for California-based POM Wonderful too. The company is the nation’s largest grower of the fruit, but it has only a small piece of the $25 billion juice industry, where Tropicana is the main squeeze with more than 30 percent of the market.

But at POM’s orchards nearly 6,000 acres yield fruit for millions of bottles of juice. The company also invests millions of dollars into medial research on their products. Perhaps that’s why their sellers can charge more than $3 a bottle. Video: Organic boom

Pomegranates are very expensive to grow says Matt Tupper, president and CEO of POM Wonderful.

“They’re all handpicked; there isn’t any machine harvesting,” Tupper notes, adding that the process of making POM juice is time-intensive and requires a great deal of physical effort. And on top of all that it’s a highly perishable product too, he said.

But pomegranate juice isn’t just rich in anti-oxidants; it’s also rich in calories, so watch out. Just one cup contains 140 calories. And products with pomegranate in it are not cheap. The cost more than $20 for face cream, $10 for tea bags and at $8.50 pomegranate juice costs almost double the price of blueberry juice, which is also contains high levels of naturally-occurring anti-oxidants.

And now there’s even a high-end drink. At the newly-reopened Peacock Alley bar in New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, the signature drink is made with a pomegranate liqueur — here’s to your health.

© 2012 CNBC, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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