Health Benefits of Pomegranate: Nutrition Facts & Recipes
Belonging to the Lythraceae family, pomegranate or Punica Granatum is a deciduous shrub which bears fruits and generally reaches height within the range of 16ft to 33ft. Originally, the pomegranate was a seasonal fruit, available from fall to spring in both Northern and Southern hemispheres which are to say, between September to February in the former, and between March to May in the latter. Pomegranate fruit consists of an outer leathery skin, a white under skin, and several red pulpy seedlings or seeds which are generally consumed. When ripe the pulp and juice from the seeds are tart and sweet at the same time, with the hard, white seeds bringing the crunchy texture. Pomegranate seeds are generally pressed for fresh juice, which is further used to make sauce, jus, or even wine. The same juice is used to add flavours in baking. The seeds as whole can be used as garnish for salads, fruit custards, or other traditional sweet and savoury desserts.
Pomegranate as fruit was generally found in areas which lie between India and today’s Iran, needless to say, that since it was a seasonal fruit, it had great value in the ancient world. Eventually, pomegranate made its way to Mediterranean countries through trade routes and started being successfully cultivated in a few regions. Being seasonal and difficult to cultivate, the fruit was given a reverent position, some even believed that the fruit was mystical.
While, Spain is the main producer of pomegranates in Europe now, with the insignia of Granada being a pomegranate, the Spanish weren’t introduced to the fruit until the 16th century. Although, once the Spanish were introduced to the fruit, they didn’t waste much time in transporting the plant to America and introducing it to California by 1769.
Today, India is the largest producer of pomegranate in the world, with Iran being the second largest and other countries like Spain, Afghanistan, Turkey, China and so on, finding a place in the top ten.
In fact, so great is the popularity and demand of pomegranate, that this once extremely seasonal fruit is now produced, exported and imported, and consumed throughout the year.
- Pomegranate Nutrition Facts
- Health Benefits of Pomegranate:
- Pomegranate Recipes
- Pomegranate in History
- News on Pomegranate:
Pomegranate Nutrition Facts
People living in the Northern part of India or the Hindi speaking population of India is familiar with this famous remark, “Ek anaar, sau bimaar” or one pomegranate for a hundred sick patients. While this saying can be put into several situations, one has to wonder where the roots of this saying come from. It seems that pomegranate was considered a superfood by the people who came before, and one way to pass on the knowledge of the all benefitting properties of pomegranate was to create a famous saying about it. So, what makes pomegranate so special? Here is a brief nutritional fact profile for pomegranate, which may help shed some light on the benefits of this fruit:
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Health Benefits of Pomegranate:
There are several health benefits of pomegranate which is why it has been venerated and linked to the sacred for years. Here are a few known benefits of pomegranate:
Pomegranate For Disease Control
As we have discussed the famous saying of one pomegranate for a hundred sick people, we know exactly how beneficial pomegranate is in controlling and preventing diseases. Here are a few benefits:
1. May Help Control Type II Diabetes
Diabetes is the largest killer in the world and most of the times, it does not kill directly. Pomegranate is rich in compounds like uallic acid, oleanolic acid, gallic acid, ursolic acid, and ellagic and punicalagin which are known to have antidiabetic actions. Pomegranate also reduces oxidative stress to reduce the effects of diabetes.
- In 201312, the Nutrition Research published a study review by Banihani S et al, which systematically reviewed all the existing research on pomegranate and its diabetes counteracting effects. The reviewers concluded that all existing research indicates that pomegranate may help control diabetes, however, suggested that some more clinical trials were required to be sure.
- In 2014, the Nutrition Research again published a study conducted by Banihani SA et al, who studied diabetes controlling properties of Pomegranate Juice. The researchers concluded that pomegranate juice can effectively reduce the levels of blood glucose levels. However, suggested for more clinical research.
2. Pomegranate Has Impressive Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Everyone suffers from short-lived inflammation time and again, however, when inflammation becomes chronic, then it may become the primary cause for other diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease34, Cancer, Obesity, CVD, even diabetes. Pomegranates display strong anti-inflammatory behaviour, because of a rich presence of punicalagins in them. Several studies have proved that pomegranate can reduce inflammation caused by colon, and breast cancer, as well as, digestive tract inflammation.
- In 2014, the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, published a study conducted by Sohrab G et al. The researchers studied the effects of pomegranate juice on inflammation markers in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The researchers, in the end, concluded that pomegranate juice has a significant impact on reducing inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes.
3. Pomegranate May Help Fight Certain Types Of Cancer
There are several people who would broadly claim that pomegranate may prevent cancer without specifying which type of cancer. Researchers are still studying the impact of pomegranate on different cancer cells, however, there are are two cancers that pomegranate can definitely prevent, which are:
- Prostate Cancer
Prostate Cancer is the most common type of cancer developing in men. We have discussed the condition in detail in a previous content on Prostate Cancer5. There have been several studies and follow-ups conducted to study the impact of pomegranate juice on the growth and development of prostate cancer cells.
- In 2006, the Clinical Cancer Research published the results of a study conducted by Pantucevery AJ et al, who studied the cancer prevention impact of pomegranate juice. The researchers concluded that only a glass of pomegranate juice everyday prevents prostate cancer by relieving oxidative stress, along with significantly delaying the development of prostate-specific antigens from 15 months to 52 months.
- In 2009, the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences published a research study conducted by Khan SA, who enquired about the role of pomegranate in preventing colon cancer. This research suggested that pomegranate juice has proved cause the death of cancer cells in the body, which include cancer cells developing in the anas or colon.
Related Read: 7 Super Foods for a Healthy Prostate
Breast Cancer is the most common cancer type in women. In fact, it is one of the top five chronic diseases in India. However, several laboratory studies have proved that pomegranate may cause cell death of cancer cells.
- In 2011, the Journal of Medicinal Food published a study by Dikmen M. et al who studied the anti-oxidation activity of pomegranate which causes cell death of breast cancer cells.
- In 20146, the Molecular Carcinogenesis published a study by Shirode AB et al. who studied the antiproliferative effect of pomegranate on breast cancer cells and concluded that pomegranate extract can be used to make anti-cancer drugs.
Related Read: Diagnosed with Breast Cancer? What to Do Next?
4. Pomegranate May Lower Blood Pressure
Hypertension or High Blood Pressure is generally the base cause for cardiovascular diseases. However, in 2013, the Phytotherapy Research published a study conducted by Asgary S. et al. who studied the effects on pomegranate on blood pressure. The study involved 21 participants within the age group of 30-67 years who were 150 ml of pomegranate juice every day for a period of two weeks. The researchers reported that consumption of one glass of pomegranate juice for even 2 weeks can reduce high blood pressure significantly.
5. Pomegranate May Help Fight Arthritis and Joint Pain
Arthritis is a chronic disease which is known to cause severe pain and disability in men and women, especially in the colder western countries. Pomegranate is known for its anti-inflammation properties which may help deal with the effects of arthritis.
- In 20057, the Journal of Nutrition published a laboratory study conducted by Ahmed S. et al, who studied the arthritis prevention properties of pomegranate stated that pomegranate juice inhibits the development of enzymes which cause joint damage in arthritis.
- In 2010, the Phytotherapy Research published a laboratory study conducted by Hadipur-Jahromy M et al. who studied the arthritis management properties of pomegranate juice on mice suffering from osteoarthritis. The researchers concluded that pomegranate juice can, in fact, improve the damage of the joints too.
6. May Help Treat Erectile Dysfunction
Stress of various kinds can affect the health of our sex organs. Oxidative stress, in fact, can negatively affect the blood flow to the penis and cause erectile dysfunction. However, there have been studies to prove that pomegranate, may, in fact, help prevent and treat erectile dysfunction.
- In 2005, the Journal of Urology89, published a study conducted by Azadzoi KM et al. The study was conducted to understand how anti-oxidative therapy can help cure the erectile dysfunction caused by stress and the researchers believed that pomegranate juice may be the answer to that.
- In 2007, the Journal of Impotence Research published a study conducted by Forest CP et al on the safety and effectiveness of pomegranate juice in treating erectile dysfunction. The study included 53 participants, and the test lasted for 6 weeks which included 4 weeks of treatment with pomegranate juice, with a two week detox period between the doses. The researchers reported that more than 50% of participants reported an improvement in their symptoms.
7. Improves Memory
Our brains are delicate and complex pieces, and our abilities to remember something depend on a lot of things, including brain health.
- In 2013, the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicines published a study conducted by Bookheimer SY et al. The study involved 32 participants who were divided into two groups, one group was fed pomegranate juice, while the other was placed on placebo for 4 weeks. Within 4 weeks, the participants reported better cognitive memory, as well as the memory of sight and sound.
- Although, in 2006, the Neurobiology of Disease published a study conducted by Hartman RE et al. Mice suffering from Alzheimer’s were fed pomegranate juice for at least 6 months and the results showed that pomegranate juice helps prevent and dissolve plaques and manage as well as prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
Beauty Benefits of Pomegranate
Pomegranate also has some really great benefits for your skin and hair. Here are a few benefits of pomegranate to enhance your beauty:
Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants which help ease out the oxidative stress felt by the skin. This, in turn, rejuvenates the skin and prevents wrinkles, which makes the skin look younger. While massaging the skin with pomegranate oil can help improve skin texture and make it look younger, even a glass of pomegranate juice every day can have the same effect in the long run.
2. Pimple and Acne Solution
Hormonal imbalances can cause the skin to break out in pimples, as it turns out pomegranates are rich in Vitamin C which means that it can manage and control the oil a person’s skin secrets. Pimples can also break out because of bad digestion, and as it turns out, pomegranate can help with digestion as well as improving blood circulation in the body.
3. Healthy Skin
Pomegranate is rich in substances which inhibit the production of enzymes, which may break down collagen. Collagen is the component of the skin which ensures that the skin is moisturized and smooth. Thus, by protecting the collagen, pomegranate ensures that a person has smooth, supple, and soft skin.
4. Sun Protect
Since pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, they act as great protectors again sunburns. In fact, it is always better to opt for a pomegranate as a between meals snack.
5. Heals Skin Inflammation.
Pomegranate is also rich in polyphenols which makes it display strong anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, pomegranate seed oil or pomegranate extracts used directly on the inflamed parts of the skin can help reduce the inflammation. Alternatively, even consumption of pomegranate can help reduce the inflammation.
Benefits of Pomegranate During Pregnancy
Pomegranate is a treasure trove of essential vitamins and minerals and hence, it is actually safe and healthy for pregnant women. Here are a few vitamins and minerals in pomegranate which make it beneficial for pregnant women.
- Essential fibers
- An abundance of Vitamin C
In fact, one glass of pomegranate juice is recommended for pregnant women no matter how difficult their pregnancy is, as a pomegranate is also a rich source of vitamin K, which helps prevent complications related to pregnancy.
Pomegranate has a very unique flavour, which it lends to the making of red wine, but even food made with pomegranate is generally packed with flavour and very healthy.
1. Pomegranate Raita
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Pomegranate Raita Process:
- In a bowl, mix all the available ingredients well.
- Serve as a condiment with Biryani or other dishes.
2. Pomegranate and Chickpea Curry
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Pomegranate and Chickpea Curry Process:
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add the cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin seeds, and crushed cardamoms and allow the seeds to crackle.
- Once the spices have crackled add green chillies and once they cook a little, add the onions and saute till the onions are golden brown.
- Now add ginger and let the mix cook for a while.
- Add the chickpeas, chana daal, anardana powder, garam masala, and pomegranate seeds and mix well.
- Add water and coriander leaves and cover the cooker with the lid.
- Allow the curry to cook at low temperature and for 4-5 whistles. Serve hot.
3. Baba Ganoush
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Baba Ganoush Process:
- Grill the eggplants, put them in cold water, and then peel them.
- Keep the smoked peeled eggplants in a blitzer.
- Add garlic, sesame seed paste, garam masala, lemon juice, some chopped coriander, and salt to the blitzer, along with 2 tbsp olive/mustard oil and blitz till a smooth paste is formed.
- Pour out the paste in a bowl, add another tbsp of olive oil, and mix.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve with fresh pita bread.
4. Pomegranate Lassi
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Pomegranate Lassi Process:
- In a blender add curd, milk, ½ cup of pomegranate seeds, sugar, crushed cardamom, and rose water and blend till you get a smooth drink.
- Garnish with crushed pistachio and 1-2 tbsp pomegranate seeds.
- Serve cold and fresh.
5. Chapli Kebabs
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Chapli Kebabs Process:
- Add the minced goat meat in a bowl with crushed cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and pomegranate seeds (you can crush the seeds or use them whole). Mix well.
- Now add the flour, onions, tomatoes, chillies, chilli powder, salt, coriander leaves, and garam masala and mix well, till you get a fine paste.
- Now, hand roll and press the mutton into kebab pieces.
- Now, heat some oil in a pan and add the kebabs to the pans.
- Cook till you get a golden-brown colour on all sides.
- Serve hot with butter paratha, raita, and salad.
6. Anaari Paneer
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Anaari Paneer Process:
- Heat oil in a pan, and add cloves, coriander seeds, cardamom, red chillies, and cloves and let them crackle.
- Once the whole masalas crackle, add the kasoori methi and cook till it gets fragrant.
- Then add the onions and cook till they are golden brown.
- Now add the ginger-garlic paste and let them cook till they take a golden brown colour.
- Now add paneer and cumin seed powder, coriander powder, and red chilli powder, and saute for 2 minutes.
- Now add the pomegranate juice and mix well and let the juice reduce till it thickens.
- Now, add the curd, and stir continuously till it has reduced and cooked.
- Now add the cream and half of chopped coriander leaves and mix well. Cover with a lid and allow it to boil and reduce.
- Add salt, and mix well.
- Garnish with remaining coriander leaves and serve hot with pilaf/pulao.
7. Pomegranate Chicken Curry
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Pomegranate Chicken Curry Process:
- In a bowl add the chicken thighs, red chilli powder, garam masala, salt, and black pepper powder and mix well. Ensure that all parts of the chicken are coated well. In fact, you can make tiny incisions in the thighs and rub the masala mix on the incisions, to ensure that chicken thighs are infused with flavour.
- Heat oil in a pan, add the chicken pieces and cook for 6-10 minutes, switching sides of chicken at halftime.
- Now, add chicken stock, squeeze the lemon halves for juice and then throw in the lime wedges, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook, till the stock boils.
- Reduce the flame and let the chicken curry simmer uncovered, till it has reduced well.
- Garnish the chicken with fresh pomegranate seeds and serve hot with french fries/brown rice/simple green salad.
8. Pomegranate and Chocolate Cupcakes
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Pomegranate and Chocolate Cupcakes Process:
- For the Chocolate Cupcakes
- In a bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, ¾ cups of sugar, cocoa, ½ cup of hot water, ⅔ cups of cooking oil, egg, and ½ tsp salt. Beat well till a uniform consistency is achieved.
- Now, add cupcake paper molds in the cupcake tin molds and pour the mixture in the molds.
- If you have a preset Dessert temperature in your oven, you can use that or preheat the oven at 180 degrees.
- Add cupcake molds, and cook the cupcakes at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Keep checking the cupcakes at regular intervals, and stop cooking them once a toothpick inserted to the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool before putting them on the cake table.
- For the Pomegranate Curd
- In a bowl add cornstarch, 1 ½ tbsp sugar, salt, 2 tbsp water, and egg yolk and beat till they are whisked together uniformly.
- Now, add 1 cup of pomegranate juice in a pan and reduce it on medium flame.
- Once the juice has simmered and reduced, take it off heat and very slowly pour half of the juice in the bowl with the egg-cornstarch mix. Ensure that you are beating the mixture continuously. Put the pan back on the heat, with half the pomegranate juice.
- Once the pomegranate-egg yolk-cornstarch mixture is mixed well and uniformly, pour the entire thing into the pan with the rest of the pomegranate juice.
- Cook till the mixture thickens and becomes sticky.
- Now strain the mix through a strainer and add 1 tbsp butter, allow the butter to melt and mix well, till you get a smooth consistency.
- Allow the curd to cool before putting it away in a fridge to chill.
- Once the curd is chilled, fill it in a piping bag.
- Now with the help of a melon scooper (the size of the melon scooper depends on the size of your cupcakes), scoop out the cupcakes from the center.
- Fill the cavity with the pomegranate curd.
- Slice the scooped out cake piece till you are left with just the top of the cupcake, use this to cover the cavity with the pomegranate curd.
- For Pomegranate Frosting
- In a saucepan, heat 1 cup pomegranate juice and reduce till it has become ¼ of its original amount. Take it off heat and allow it to cool completely before moving ahead.
- In a bowl, add the remaining butter and whisk till it as become fluffy.
- Add the remaining sugar to the bowl, but ensure that you are beating the butter continuously as you add the sugar.
- Add the remaining salt and whisk continuously.
- Add the now cooled pomegranate juice and beat till the frosting looks fluffy.
- Add 2 tbsp milk, if the frosting looks too dense and beat to make it fluffy.
- Garnish the cupcakes with fresh pomegranate seeds.
9. Pomegranate Cake
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Pomegranate Cake Process:
- For the Cake
- In a bowl add Maida, 1 cup of sugar, 3 egg whites, ½ tsp salt, baking powder, baking powder, cooking oil, vanilla essence, milk, and lemon zest.
- Whisk thoroughly, till all the ingredients are mixed into a smooth.
- Now, oil and dust a cake dish and pour the mix into it.
- If you have a preset cake menu in your oven, you can use that or, preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
- Add the cake dish, and cook at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Check with a toothpick. If on poking to the center of the cake, it comes back clean, then shut down the oven and leave the cake in it to cool down.
- Once the cake has cooled, take it out of the mold and let it cool further on the cake plate.
- For the Cream
- Add the remaining sugar, salt, and egg whites in a bowl. Heat water in a pan, and add this bowl on the water. Keep an electronic thermometer in the bowl as you whisk this mix on the double boiler. Wait for the temperature of the mix to rise to 48.8-degree Celsius as you beat it.
- Once it reaches the desired temperature, take the bowl off heat and whisk and fold till the temperature drops to 26 degrees Celsius.
- After getting the mix to room temperature, gradually add the unsalted butter to the mix, 1 tbsp at a time. Take care to beat and fold every tablespoon of butter well before adding the other one.
- Once all the butter has been added, increase your whisking speed so that the resulting mix looks fluffy and light.
- Now, add the pomegranate juice and whisk and fold, till it is completely incorporate with the cream.
- Now pour or dump this cream on the cake kept on the cake table.
- Spread this mix evenly with the help of a spatula, making sure to cover every open surface of your cake.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds before serving.
10. Pomegranate Tea
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Pomegranate Tea Process:
- Add all the ingredients in a pan and let it simmer on a medium flame.
- Once it has simmered down, allow it cool before pouring the mix in a blitzer.
- Blitz mix to get a coarse drink.
- Strain the drink and pour in teacups. Serve immediately.
Pomegranate in History
Pomegranate has been known to mankind since the ancient civilizations first started taking roots. Here is a glimpse into what pomegranate meant to different cultures in the world:
Ancient Greeks believed that due to the blood red colour of pomegranate juice the fruit had actually come from the blood of Adonis, which is why it is called the “Fruit of Dead”.
Pomegranate was introduced in the Greek mythology pretty early and is deeply associated with Persephone as well change of seasons. The goddess Demeter is the goddess of harvest and plenty. The ancient Greeks believed that there was a time when the earth was perpetually in the harvest season, leaving humans with no hunger or want for food. Demeter the goddess had a beautiful daughter Persephone, who was the cause of Demeter’s joy, which was expressed with a year-long good harvest.
Persephone was so beautiful that the God of the underworld, Hades, fell in love with her and abducted her, taking her to the underground with him. Demeter was so saddened with the loss of her daughter that the earth suffered from eons of harsh winters where nothing grew and people died of hunger and cold.
When Zeus was made aware of Demeter’s plight, he set to search for Persephone and realized that Hades had abducted her and was holding her captive. So, Zeus ordered Hades to return Persephone to Demeter but Hades refused, stating the laws of the fates, stating that if someone eats the food of the underworld, they then belong to him and must stay in his territory.
Persephone in her grief had not consumed any food of the underworld but had consumed six pomegranate seeds when Hades had offered her a pomegranate. Zeus dictated that for the six seeds that Persephone consumed, she would be doomed to spend six months of the year in the underworld, while she would be free to spend the remaining six months with her month.
The Greeks believed that spring followed Persephone’s return to her mother Demeter, which then progressed into warm days and great harvest seasons, and the coming of autumn and subsequent winters were a representation of Persephone’s return to the underworld followed by Demeter’s sadness.
Even in modern times, pomegranate has a very important symbolic value in Greek life. Houseguests generally gift new homeowners with a pomegranate which they place near or under the altar of the house. This gesture represents fertility, good luck, and abundance.
In fact, to this date, the Kollyva made to commemorate the dead is made with boiled wheat, and sugar, which is decorated with pomegranate. In fact, pomegranate is a common Greek motif for home decorations and is available in abundance at all home good stores.
Pomegranate is an integral part of Iran’s cuisine. The juice, paste, even pomegranate seeds have a place in traditional Iranian recipes, which is why Iran is the second largest producer of pomegranate in the world. Pomegranate skin is also used as a stain for Iranian silks and wool. Iran is the second largest producer and largest exporter of pomegranates in the world. Pomegranate skins may be used to stain wool and silk in the carpet industry. In fact, so venerated is Pomegranate in Iran that a pomegranate festival is held on an annual basis in October in Tehran, where pomegranate producers sell their products, but the festival is also an open market opportunity for artists, local handicrafts, and other food products.
The Ebers Papyrus which was written around 1500 BC is one of the oldest medical books in Egypt. The book describes the use of pomegranate to cure infections as well as treat for tapeworms. In fact, pomegranate in Egypt has been so venerated that it is generally seen as the symbol of ambition and prosperity and is generally known as nhm or jnhm. It is also interesting to note that a rather large and dry pomegranate was found from the tomb of the Butler of Queen Hatshepsut.
It is believed that pomegranate trees first grew and thrived in the north of India, along the Himalayan belt. Pomegranate is believed to be an intrinsic part of Indian cuisine and food habits. The symbolic importance of pomegranate has been lost in time, along with the legends attached with it, but a general understanding and teaching of the importance of pomegranate, which is why every Indian household just knows that pomegranate is healthy.
However, the traditional symbolism of pomegranate for Hindus is related to prosperity and fertility and is generally associated with Ganesha, who is supposed to be fond of the fruit and Mother Earth.
Pomegranate is a superfood, and it is safe for consumption. It has several benefits and has been a part of Indian households and cuisines since time immemorial. We have tried to present all the necessary information about the food in as much detail as possible.
News on Pomegranate:
Padma Shri Genabhai Patel: Championing Polio Fight and Pomegranate Farming
– 22nd Jan 2019
Padma Shri Genabhai Patel was born with Polio in both his legs, but that didn’t stop him from championing both the war against polio, as well as becoming a profit-making pomegranate farmer. It is true, that destiny favours the brave, lovingly nicknamed “Anar Dada”, Padma Shri Genabhai Patel is one such individual. Born into a farming family, in the drought-hit Banaskantha district of Gujarat, Genabhai Patel has been a farmer since the age of 17 years, however, he wanted to expand his wings and do more than the usual crop production cycle. Luck favoured him when he attended the Krishi Mahotsav (2003-04), organised by the government of Gujarat. It was at this Mahotsav that the 53 year old Padma Shri learned of drip irrigation and pomegranate farming. He convinced his family to give him 5 acres of land and support for a pomegranate farm and ordered over 18000 varieties of pomegranate from Maharashtra and planted them in the land given to him. Initially, his efforts didn’t bring much profits as there was a lack of market awareness. He suffered through ridicule from fellow farmers and surged ahead, in time his efforts bore fruit and he started making profits. Today, the drought hit Banaskantha district is a haven of pomegranate trees and one of the highest producers of pomegranates in the country. Today, nearly 70,000 farmers seek the advice of “Anar Dada” on pomegranate farming. With his efforts and undying faith in his abilities, Padma Shri Genabhai Patel has shown to the world, that persons suffering from Polio are in no way lesser and given the right support, they can become institution builders.