Sowing seeds of good deeds

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer

L’Shana Tovah!  Another Rosh Hashanah is upon us, another year behind us…and hopefully it has been a year of good health, success and personal insight.  As I ponder the celebration of the holiday, somehow the notion of what to serve our dinner guests always creeps into my mind about a week or so in advance.  Although apples and honey are as traditional as the round challah, this year I sought to break away from the mainstream and searched for something just a little bit more unique.

In my quest for providing healthy gastronomic diversity at our Festival Meal, I came upon an interesting yet perhaps little-known tradition. It seems that an average pomegranate contains 613 seeds, a figure equal to the number of commandments in the Jewish Bible. It is therefore customary in some circles to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah, in hopes that the coming year will be as filled with good deeds as the fruit is with seeds.

Not only does this practice have a wonderful sentiment, steeped in the ideals of the New Year; serving pomegranates also ensures that a significant dose of nutrition will be enjoyed during dinner.  The ruby-colored juice is a powerful source of antioxidants.  According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, this may help stop plaque from building up in blood vessels. The antioxidants may also keep cholesterol in a form that is less damaging, and may contribute to a reduction in the plaque that has already built up in vessels.

The news is equally as exciting for individuals in the early stages of prostate cancer. Men who have already had preliminary treatment for prostate cancer may benefit from a daily dose of pomegranate juice. According to research from UCLA, the juice appears to suppress the growth of cancer cells.  Dr. Allan Pantuck, a scientist involved in this research, suggests that a combination of elements in pomegranates — rather than any single component — is probably responsible for these health effects.

The pairing of a pleasant flavor and slightly sweet crunchiness makes pomegranate seeds a delightful addition to tossed green salads.  The splash of vivid color can heighten the enjoyment of beverages and smoothies, too.  However you choose to incorporate this delicious fruit into your holiday repertoire, embrace the healthful bounty as well as the blessings of the 613 commandments.  Count your seeds, count your blessings….and have a truly unique holiday celebration!