Pomegranate Juice: The Healthiest Juice on the Planet?

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Do you know what beverage comes from fruit seeds and in just small amounts has been shown to make incredibly positive impacts on human health? I’m talking about pomegranate juice, that naturally sweet, ruby red liquid that comes from pomegranate seeds and is loaded with impressive pomegranate health benefits just like its source.

Pomegranates have been shown to prevent and naturally treat everything from inflammation and high cholesterol to high blood pressure and hyperglycemia. Pomegranate juice is an antioxidant powerhouse that’s said to even trump red wine and green tea. With proven anticancer fighting abilities as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it’s no wonder this fruit juice has such a great reputation. (1)

Whenever I talk about pomegranate juice, I’m always referencing the 100 percent pure variety since it’s very common to find juice blends that only contain a small amount of pomegranate. Let’s look at how pure and potent pomegranate juice in small amounts might be much more than a tasty fruit-sourced beverage — it actually can be medicinal.


7 Major Pomegranate Juice Benefits

1. Helps Fight Cancer

The extracts of pomegranate fruit contain polyphenols and other compounds that have been shown in scientific studies to have antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory effects in prostate, lung, breast and other cancers. (2) In simpler terms, this means that pomegranate has been shown to inhibit the spread of cancer cells, encourage the death of cancer cells and discourage inflammation, three major and vital aspects of successfully fighting against any cancer in the body. A 2014 study conducted by the University of Albany demonstrated how pomegranate extract can specifically inhibit the spread of MCF-7 breast cancer cells. (3)

Pomegranate juice has also shown itself to be especially helpful for prostate cancer. The results of the first clinical trial of pomegranate juice in patients with prostate cancer was published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research in 2006. The subjects of this trial were men with prostate cancer who had already undergone surgery or radiation to treat their prostate cancer. These subjects were given eight ounces (one cup) of pomegranate juice daily until there was cancer progression. The researchers found that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) doubling time was significantly prolonged in the subjects taking the treatment. (4)

This is significant since PSA is a blood marker for prostate cancer and PSA doubling time is used to determine the life expectancy of a prostate cancer patient. So the lower the PSA doubling time, the better the outlook. (5) In 2012, another study found that pomegranate extract weakened human prostate cell proliferation in vitro. (6) Combined, all this research shows pomegranate’s abilities as a cancer-fighting food.

2. Decreases Hypertension

Pomegranate juice has a high antioxidant capacity, and scientific research has demonstrated that it can help lower high blood pressure. A meta-analysis published in 2016 reviewed numerous studies of pomegranate juice and its effect on blood pressure. Overall, this meta-analysis concludes that there appears to be “consistent benefits of pomegranate juice consumption on blood pressure.” The researchers also add, “This evidence suggests it may be prudent to include this fruit juice in a heart-healthy diet.” (7)

3. Boosts Heart Health

Since pomegranate juice is so good for blood pressure, it’s not surprising that this delicious beverage is also excellent for heart health. It contains antioxidants at higher levels than many other fruit juices, which is why it can be so helpful to the heart.

Research published in Clinical Nutrition studied pomegranate juice consumption by patients with carotid artery stenosis, which is a narrowing of either of the two key arteries located in the front of the neck, through which blood from the heart goes to the brain. Participants who consumed pomegranate juice lowered their blood pressure by more than 12 percent and had a 30 percent reduction in atherosclerotic plaque. Participants who did not drink the juice actually saw their atherosclerotic plaque increase by 9 percent. Overall, the study found that pomegranate juice consumption reduced plaque in the carotid artery as well as lowered blood pressure and LDL oxidation. (8)

4. Relieves Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is among the most prevalent forms of musculoskeletal disorders that lead to joint degeneration. Studies have suggested that pomegranate juice may play a protective role by decreasing cartilage inflammation. This protective ability has been attributed to the juice’s high antioxidant content.

A 2016 study looked at the effects of pomegranate juice on 38 patients with osteoarthritis in their knees. Some of the patients drank pomegranate juice for six weeks while the other patients drank a control substance. The researchers found that the consumption of pomegranate juice not only improved physical function and stiffness, but it also increased antioxidant status while decreasing breakdown cartilage enzymes. (9)

5. Improves Memory

Studies have shown that pomegranate juice can be helpful when it comes to improving memory. The polyphenols found in the juice have been shown to be neuroprotective.

One 2013 study randomly assigned subjects to drink eight ounces of either pomegranate juice or a flavor-matched placebo drink for a total of four weeks. The subjects were older with age-associated memory complaints. The researchers found that the 28 subjects with memory complaints who drank eight ounces (one cup) of pomegranate juice per day significantly improved markers of both verbal and visual memory. The researchers conclude that pomegranate juice appears to increase memory function through task-related increases in functional brain activity. (10)

There is some scientific evidence from animal studies that pomegranate can also help fight Alzheimer’s disease, making this juice a beneficial brain food. (11)

6. Provides Lots of Antioxidants

Pomegranate juice is loaded with health-promoting and disease-fighting antioxidants, and pomegranates are some of the top high-antioxidant foods. The juice of pomegranates contains a tannin called punicalagin as well as polyphenols, anthocyanins, ellagic acid derivatives and hydrolyzable tannins. These are all very powerful antioxidants.

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry actually found that commercial pomegranate juices showed an antioxidant activity three times higher than red wine and green tea. The antioxidants were actually higher in commercial juice made from the whole pomegranate than in juice from the seeds alone. This is most likely due to the fact the rind of the pomegranate also gets processed in the commercial pomegranate juices, which adds additional antioxidants, specifically tannins. (12)

7. Fights Inflammation

Inflammation has been found to be associated with just about every health condition. Pomegranates and pomegranate juice are known to have potent anti-inflammatory abilities. A 2013 in vivo study published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine demonstrated pomegranate juice’s significant anti-inflammatory activity in the gut. In vivo studies performed on the whole fruit, juice, peel and flowers of pomegranate also revealed ant- ulcer effects in a variety of animal models. (13)

Another study conducted with type II diabetics also showed pomegranate juice’s ability to lower inflammation. Researchers found that 250 milliliters of pomegranate juice per day for 12 weeks lowered the inflammatory markers in the diabetic subjects. Specifically, the intake of juice lowered hs-CRP by 32 percent and interleukin-6 by 30 percent. (14)

 

Pomegranate juice guide - Dr. Axe

 


Is Pomegranate Juice the Healthiest Juice?

Pomegranate or pom juice comes from pomegranates. The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-producing deciduous shrub or small tree in the Lythraceae family. Pomegranates are native to southeastern Europe and Asia. After being cultured in Spain, it’s believed that pomegranates were brought to Mexico and California in the 16th century by missionaries.

One large pomegranate typically makes somewhere between one-fourth and one-half cup of juice. Just like the seeds of the fruit itself, the pomegranate juice made from the seeds is impressively nutritious.

Just one cup (249 grams) of pomegranate juice contains about: (15)

  • 134 calories
  • 32.7 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.4 gram protein
  • 0.7 gram fat
  • 0.2 gram fiber
  • 25.9 micrograms vitamin K (32 percent DV)
  • 59.8 micrograms folate (15 percent DV)
  • 533 milligrams potassium (15 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram manganese (12 percent DV)
  • 0.9 milligram vitamin E (5 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (5 percent DV)
  • 17.4 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
  • 0.6 milligram niacin (3 percent DV)
  • 27.4 milligrams calcium (3 percent DV)
  • 27.4 milligrams phosphorus (3 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram copper (3 percent DV)

Pomegranate Juice vs. Other Juices

There are a lot of fruit juices that come from fruits that are easy to eat. I’m thinking of fruits like oranges or grapes. But pomegranates are unfortunately not so easy to eat at all. People are always wondering how to eat a pomegranate, how to cut a pomegranate and how to open a pomegranate. I highly encourage taking the time and effort to eat fresh pomegranates, but it’s also nice that pomegranate juice eliminates all that questioning and work. The juice definitely makes it easy to get the benefits of pomegranate on a more regular basis.

A UCLA study recently ranked the top 10 healthiest juices and other beverages. Guess who the winner was… Yes, it was pomegranate juice. All of the fruit juices studied were rich in polyphenols, but pomegranate came out on top. The researchers ranked the antioxidant content of the juices (and other beverages) according to the following criteria: antioxidant potency, ability to inhibit LDL oxidation and total polyphenol content. (16)

The juices were ranked in the following order:

  • Pomegranate juice
  • Concord grape juice
  • Blueberry juice
  • Black cherry juice
  • Açaí juice
  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice
  • Apple juice

Additionally, when it comes to antioxidant capacity, pomegranate juice was found to be at least 20 percent greater than any of the other beverages tested.


How Much Pomegranate Juice Is Healthy?

For adults, there is no standard recommended does for pomegranate juice, but generally speaking, having eight to 12 ounces of pomegranate juice each day is a safe and healthy amount for most people. Just always make sure you’re drinking 100 percent pure pomegranate juice with zero grams of added sugar.

For other conditions, the following amounts of pomegranate juice have been used: (17)

  • Atherosclerosis: 1.7 ounces per day
  • Prostate cancer: 8 ounces per day

Fresh pomegranate seeds or juice usually keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days. If you can’t finish the juice within five days, you can freeze it so it retains its flavor and color.


Pomegranate Juice Precautions and Drug Interactions

Most people don’t experience negative side effects when they consume pomegranate juice. However, it’s possible to be allergic to pomegranates. It’s important for everyone not to overdo it on any juice, including pomegranate, because of the sugar content, but diabetics should be especially cautious. Speak with your doctor before making pomegranate juice a part of your diet if you’re diabetic.

If you tend to have low blood pressure, it’s important to know that drinking pomegranate juice may lower blood pressure a small amount. Since pomegranate can affect blood pressure, it’s best to avoid pomegranate products at least two weeks before any surgery. (18)

Pomegranate juice may also interact with medications similarly to grapefruit juice, making some medications less effective. Speak with your doctor before consuming pomegranate juice if you any ongoing health issues or take any of the following medications:

  • ACE inhibitors, including Benazepril (Lotensin), Captopril (Capoten), Enalapril (Vasotec), Fosinopril (Monopril), Lisinopril (Zestril) and Ramipril (Altace)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Statins used to lower cholesterol, including Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Fluvastatin (Lescol), Lovastatin (Mevacor), Pravastatin (Pravachol), Rosuvastatin (Crestor) and Simvastatin (Zocor)
  • Blood thinners (anticoagulant medication) like Warfarin (Coumadin)

Final Thoughts on Pomegranate Juice

It’s true that pomegranate seeds provide you with all the benefits of pomegranate juice but with less sugar and more fiber. I definitely encourage you to put in the effort to eat fresh pomegranate seeds when you can. However, I know that realistically there is a lot of work that goes into getting at those little ruby red morsels — that’s when pomegranate juice comes in.

Pomegranate juice makes it so easy to get the benefits of pomegranate quickly and regularly. Just make sure you always stick with 100 percent pure pomegranate juice in small amounts. That way you won’t overdo it when it comes to the natural sugar found in the juice, but you will get a great dose of key nutrients like vitamin K, potassium and folate. Science confirms that pomegranate juice really is quite magical when it comes to our health. For instance, it’s been shown to help fight cancer, decrease hypertension, boost heart health, relieve osteoarthritis, improve memory and fight inflammation, in large part to its antioxidant content.

It also beats out a lot of other fruit juices (and common beverages) for the title of “healthiest fruit juice.”

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