In Greek mythology, the pomegranate has great significance—especially with regard to fertility. It begins with the myth about Persephone being kidnapped by Hades. She was taken to live in the underworld as his wife. Demeter (her mother and goddess of the Harvest) mourned for her lost daughter, causing all green things to cease growing. Zeus, could not leave the Earth to die, so he commanded Hades to return Persephone. Hades tricked Persephone into eating four pomegranate seeds while she was still his prisoner. It was the rule of the Fates that anyone who consumed food or drink in the Underworld was doomed to spend eternity there. Because Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds, she was condemned to spend four months in the Underworld every year. During these four months, when Persephone is sitting on the throne of the Underworld next to her husband Hades, her mother Demeter mourns and no longer gives fertility to the earth. In Greece, when one buys a new home, it is conventional for a house guest to bring as a first gift a pomegranate, which is placed under/near the ikonostasi, (home altar), of the house, as it is a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck. The pomegranate, according to Greek lore, is important for fertility.
A recent study may show that the Greeks weren’t so far off. A recent study, published in the journal Clinical Nutrition (e-published ahead of print 28 January 2008), it was found that rats that consumed pomegranate juice daily for seven weeks had improved the quality of sperm. The Rats were divided into four groups, one group was given 1 ml of pomegranate juice each day. One group was given 1 ml of distilled water each day. One group was given .5 ml of pomegranate juice and .5 ml of water each day. One group was given .25 ml of pomegranate juice and .75 ml of water each day. The rats drinking the concentrated juice had a significant reduction of malondialdehyde in their sperm. Malondialdehyde is a product of lipid oxidation—a producer of oxidative stress. The pomegranate juice protected from the formation of this substance, increasing the viability of the sperm. It also decreased the formation of abnormal sperm cells. The juice also increased levels of antioxidant enzymes.