The Benefits and Risks of Drinking Pomegranate Juice

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Pomegranate juice has some promising health benefits, but it also may interfere with certain medications.
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Pomegranate juice is full of antioxidants and other healthy nutrients.

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While the juice can be a refreshing choice, there are some drawbacks. For example, the drink may interact with certain medications, so some people are advised to sip on an alternative beverage.

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Here, we'll look at the health benefits of pomegranate juice, how much sugar is in pomegranate juice, whether pomegranate juice benefits weight loss and some additional information about the tart and tasty drink.

The Health Benefits of Pomegranate Juice

From reducing inflammation to lowering cholesterol levels, pomegranate juice has been linked to a number of health benefits.

1. Pomegranate Juice Is Packed With Antioxidants

Pomegranate juice is rich in punicalagins, which are extremely powerful antioxidants. Pomegranate juice's antioxidant levels are potent: The juice has been found to have three times the antioxidant activity of red wine and green tea, per early October 2000 research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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Pomegranate juice is also rich in compounds called polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, per a March 2014 report published in Advanced Biomedical Research. More research needs to be conducted, but preliminary investigations suggest it may help fight prostate, breast, lung, colon and skin cancers.

People with diabetes who drank 1.1 cups (250 ml) of pomegranate juice daily lowered two inflammatory markers — CRP and interleukin-6 — by 32 and 30 percent, respectively, according to one March 2014 study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a host of health conditions, so nutrients with anti-inflammatory functions may be helpful in staving off such conditions.

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2. Pomegranate Juice May Improve Heart Health

Pomegranate juice may have positive effects on cardiovascular disease, per an April 2013 study in Rambam Maimodies Medical Journal. It concluded that the juice markedly decreases the risk. The juice protects cholesterol from oxidation, which reduces the development of atherosclerotic plaque, and the likelihood of its consequences such as heart attacks and stroke.

Research suggests that pomegranate juice may help reduce high blood pressure, which is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, per a January 2017 review in ​Pharmacological Research.

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Pomegranate juice and cholesterol also appear to share a positive relationship: A handful of small studies suggest that drinking the juice may help lower levels of bad cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic, though more research is needed.

Should You Drink Pomegranate Juice to Lower Cholesterol?

While studies seem to suggest that drinking pomegranate juice might lower cholesterol, the overall evidence is mixed, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Some researchers suspect that pomegranate juice may block or slow the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries of people who are at higher risk of heart disease.

Plus, the high antioxidant level of pomegranate juice is thought to provide several heart health benefits, including reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol.

While drinking pomegranate juice may help lower cholesterol levels, the Mayo Clinic recommends people speak with their doctor before drinking it with that purpose in mind. This is especially important because pomegranate juice may interfere with certain medications.

Juicing to lower cholesterol is a practice some people swear by, but it's not a remedy that's been proven to work for everyone. There's no specified prescription for much pomegranate juice you should drink to lower cholesterol levels.

3. Pomegranate Juice May Help Fight Infections

Pomegranate's benefits also include antimicrobial effects.

An October 2017 study published in Biomed Research International evaluated the action of the peel and juice extract on some of the main bacterial strains responsible for dental cavities. Although it was a test-tube study, it's worth mentioning because of the promising results; researchers determined that pomegranate juice could help prevent and treat dental cavities.

4. Pomegranate Juice May Be a Good Pick for Pregnant People

Drinking pomegranate juice during pregnancy may help protect the brains of infants if they are deprived of oxygen before birth, according to an early June 2005 article for ​Pediatric Research​.

In their study, researchers fed pomegranate juice to rats during the last trimester of pregnancy and while the newborn rats fed from their mothers. The rat pups from mothers that drank pomegranate juice showed less damaged brain tissue after being deprived of oxygen for 45 minutes.

Because of these findings, researchers suggest that consuming pomegranate juice during pregnancy may protects infants' brains. Of course, more evidence is needed to support these benefits for human infants.

Additional research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may hold promise for preventing preeclampsia, growth restriction and preterm birth, per May 2012 research in the ​American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism​.

Again, more studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits.

Does Pomegranate Juice Help You Lose Weight?

Pomegranate juice and weight loss are are sometimes linked to each other.

While pomegranate juice is packed with vital nutrients, there is insufficient evidence that it helps directly with weight loss.

That said, pomegranates ​could ​be helpful for maintaining a healthy weight.

Pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, and researchers, while cautioning more research is needed, believe that it is these compounds that are responsible for pomegranate's anti-obesity effects, according to a June 2012 study in ​Nutrition​.

Even so, it's important to remember that pomegranate juice lacks fiber and contains a lot of sugar, a combination that may counter your weight loss goals.

Pomegranate Juice vs. Fruit Nutrition

As with most juices, pomegranate juice lacks the fiber that's available in its whole fruit form (the pomegranate seeds). Here's how the juice and the whole fruit measure up:

Pomegranate Juice vs. Pomegranate Seeds

Calories

Carbohydrates

Sugar

Fiber

1 Cup Pomegranate Juice

151

38 g

32 g

0 g

1 Cup Pomegranate Seeds

144

32.5 g

23.8 g

7 g

Source: USDA

As evident in the chart above, the main difference between drinking the juice and eating the fruit is that the fruit is a rich source of fiber. The sugar in pomegranate juice, without its fiber, can to a sharp rise in blood sugar levels.

You might consider eating the whole fruit rather than drinking the juice, because the fiber prevents a spike in blood sugar that can result from ingesting the natural sugars, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

While drinking fruit juice daily is linked to a higher risk of diabetes, eating two servings of fruit per week is shown to lower the risk of diabetes, per Harvard Health Publishing. Sprinkling pomegranate seeds in a salad, for example, will provide the antioxidants, without taxing the body to process the sugar content.

Pomegranate Powder vs. Pomegranate Juice

While you're probably familiar with bottled pomegranate juice, pomegranates juice can come in the form of a dried powder.

Pomegranate juice powder is made from dehydrated pomegranate juice, so it has much of the same nutritional content as the fresh fruit (though some research shows certain nutrients, namely vitamin C, may be decreased in the dehydrating process).

Pomegranate powder's health benefits reflect those of the drink. The antioxidant content of pomegranate powder is similar to that of fresh pomegranate juice, although the powder takes longer to reach maximum effect, according to a June 2008 study in the ​Journal of Medicinal Food​.

You can find organic pomegranate powder online ($23.95 on Amazon). The ingredient can be added to smoothies and recipes for an extra taste of tartness.

Pomegranate Cherry Juice

Besides dehydrated pomegranate powder, pomegranate cherry juice is another popular pom-related product available on the market. POM Wonderful Pomegranate Cherry Juice is one popular option ($24.54 for a pack of 6 on Amazon).

Cherries contain many of the same health benefits as pomegranates, so if you enjoy their taste, you might want to taste test the combination.

Pomegranate Juice Side Effects

Pomegranate juice is generally safe to drink — just make a point check the label to ensure it's 100 percent juice you're consuming, advises the Mayo Clinic.

Products called juice drinks or cocktails are actually a mixture of juices, and usually contain added sugar. They increase caloric intake, which decreases the cardiovascular benefits.

Pomegranate juice is rich in potassium, which might pose a problem for people with chronic kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Because a low-potassium diet is often recommended for this condition, check with your doctor before adding pomegranate to your diet.

The supplement may also interact negatively with certain medications. It shouldn't be taken with the blood thinner warfarin, says the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. It also may reduce the effectiveness of the diabetes drug metformin.

In addition, pomegranate extract can produce dangerous side effects if taken with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These include enalapril, captopril, lisinopril and ramipril, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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