What Is Pomegranate Juice?

This tangy drink may help reduce heart health and infection risks

Pomegranate juice and capsules

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

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Once considered exotic, pomegranate juice (from the fruit of the Punica granatum tree) is now common and easy to find. Its popularity is due in large part to well-trumpeted health claims such its ability to reduce inflammation, help fight off infections, improve heart health, and more.

One pomegranate delivers nearly 30 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which is 33% to 40% of the daily required amount for adults. But people generally don't consume a whole pomegranate as much of it is described as bitter. People do, however, drink pomegranate juice (or consume the fruit's seeds) to gain health benefits.

Pomegranate has been used medicinally for centuries dating back to 1500 BC when it was described in writings as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasitic infections. Now, people use it to manage conditions ranging from chronic obstructive lung disease to high blood pressure.

There is some scientific evidence to support certain health benefits, but there are safety concerns to be aware of as well.

Uses

There has been substantial research on the health benefits of pomegranate and pomegranate juice.

One rodent study compared the benefits of pomegranate seeds to those of pomegranate juice. Researchers concluded that the juice is primarly responsible for many of the health benefits, including its cholesterol-lowering properties and it's potential as an anti-inflammatory.

Here is a look at the landscape of research on the matter.

Heart Health

Pomegranate juice may be able to lower blood pressure and improve other risk factors for elevated blood pressure, says a research review published in Advanced Biomedical Research.

Authors of the 2014 study analyzed data from rodent, in vitro, and a smaller number of human studies. They concluded that drinking pomegranate juice improved blood pressure, lowered LDL cholesterol, and reduced triglyceride levels.

And other studies have reported similar findings. A research review published in a 2018 issue of the journal Frontiers of Pharmacology reviewed more recent evidence. Study authors concluded that pomegranate juice may provide benefits to those with hypertension, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, and peripheral artery disease.

But experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are only cautiously optimistic, stating that more research is needed before it can be confirmed that the fruit can reduce signs of heart disease.

Inflammation

Pomegranate juice may help ward off infections, says the NIH; the agency references a 2012 study in which dialysis patients had fewer hospitalizations for infections and fewer signs of inflammation compared to patients who got a placebo.

Additionally, a scientific commentary published in the journal Nutrients suggested that pomegranate may be helpful in the management of conditions including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other chronic inflammatory diseases. Study authors added, however, that larger and more well-defined human trials are needed.

Dental Plaque

There is limited evidence suggesting that pomegranate juice may help control dental plaque. In the small study, 30 human subjects were assigned to use either a pomegranate dental rinse, an antiseptic dental rinse, or water for four days.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the pomegranate solution performed just as well as the antiseptic solution with no adverse effects. Also, the pomegranate juice inhibited the growth of pathogens that have been shown to contribute to periodontitis.

Other Uses

There is ongoing research into some of the other health benefits of pomegranate, including its use in cancer prevention, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, diabetes, kidney disease, erectile dysfunction, and other conditions. But it is too soon to tell if the juice can provide a benefit in the treatment or management of these conditions.

Possible Side Effects

Pomegranate juice is likely safe for most people when consumed in typical amounts. But there are certain people who should exercise caution.

People who are allergic to pomegranate may experience itching, swelling, runny nose, and difficulty breathing.

Additionally, there is concern in the medical community about drug interactions in people who consume pomegranate juice.

Cholesterol Medication Interactions

A case report published in the September 1, 2006, issue of the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that pomegranate may interact with common medications.

A 48-year-old man was taking 10 mg of Zetia (ezetimibe) a day and 5 mg of Crestor (rosuvastatin) every other day for 17 months. Both medications are used for high cholesterol.

He began drinking pomegranate juice (200 ml twice weekly) and was admitted to emergency three weeks later with thigh pain and an elevated serum creatine kinase level. Both are symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition that causes the breakdown of muscle fibers and may lead to kidney failure.

Rosuvastatin belongs to a group of medicines called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors—better known as statins. Grapefruit juice is known to increase the risk of statin-induced myopathy, but up until now, there was little information about whether pomegranate juice might do the same.

Pomegranate juice and grapefruit juice are both known to block the cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme systems in the intestines. By inhibiting these enzymes, the juices may increase blood levels of many medications.

Other Potential Interactions

Pomegranate juice may interact with other medications. Speak to your healthcare provider before consuming pomegranate juice if you take any over-the-counter or prescription medications, especially:

  • Antiarrhythmics: Cordarone (amiodarone), Norpace (disopyramide), quinidine
  • Calcium channel blockers: Plendil (felodipine), Cardene (nicardipine), Procardia (nifedipine), Nimotop (nimodipine), Sular (nisoldipine)
  • Statins: Lipito (atorvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Zocor (simvastatin)
  • Immunosuppressants: Sandimmune, Neoral (cyclosporine), Prograf (tacrolimus)
  • Protease inhibitors: Fortovase (saquinavir)

Though not used to make pomegranate juice, you should also be advised that the root, stem, and peel of the pomegranate are possibly unsafe when consumed in large amounts.

Pomegranate Juice
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Selection, Preparation, & Storage

You'll find pomegranate juice at most grocery stores. It may be shelved in the juice aisle or in the same area as whole fruit, depending on whether it is being sold refrigerated or not.

Many consumers look for juice that is organic to avoid potential exposure to harmful chemicals. Also, it is smart to check the label of the brand that you buy to see if other juices or sweeteners are added.

Lastly, consider whether or not you want juice that has been pasteurized. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria, but it may also kill other compounds in the juice. For this reason, some consumers choose to make their own fresh pomegranate juice.

To do this, simply use the fruit's arils—the juicy round jewels that contain a white seed. Remove the arils from fruit, toss them into a blender, and liquify. Once that is done, strain the juice to remove any remaining roughage.

Note: The arils are only good for about three days once they are removed from the fruit. Keep fresh arils refrigerated.

Common Questions

What should I look for when buying a whole pomegranate?
The fruit is in season during late summer into early winter. A ripe pomegranate should feel heavy. The skin should feel firm and it should have a bright red to deep red color with leathery skin. Pomegranates that have started to turn brown are likely past their prime. Abrasions on the skin do not affect its quality.

What is the best way to store a whole pomegranate?
Keep the pomegranate whole and at room temperature until you are ready to eat the arils (it should stay fresh for about a week or two). You can also refrigerate the fruit, which can help extend that period to three months.

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