What Is Pomegranate Juice?

This tangy drink may help improve heart health and infection risks

Pomegranate juice has become a popular drink. That's in large part due to well-trumpeted health claims. It may lower inflammation, improve heart health, and more.

Research supports some health claims but also has found some safety concerns. This article looks at the science, side effects and negative interactions, plus how to best choose, use, or even make your own pomegranate juice.

Pomegranates are the fruit of the Punica granatum tree. The fruit itself is bitter so only the seeds are eaten. One pomegranate has nearly 30 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C. That's about 40% of the daily recommendation.

A whole pomegranate, a cut-up pomegranate, and a glass of pomegranate juice.

Burcu Atalay Tankut / Getty Images

Uses

The health benefits of pomegranates and their juice have been fairly well researched. Still, much of it is preliminary.

The main uses are:

  • Improving heart health
  • Lowering inflammation
  • Protecting against infection
  • Reducing dental plaque

Heart Health

A review of research says pomegranate juice may lower blood pressure and improve high blood pressure (hypertension) risk factors.

One rodent study suggests the juice is more effective than seeds for lowering inflammation and cholesterol. Those are both considered risk factors for heart disease.

Research suggests pomegranate juice improves:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says it's "cautiously optimistic." It's called for more research to confirm these benefits.

Historic Uses

Pomegranate has been used medicinally since at least 1500 BC. Then, it was used as a treatment for tapeworm, other parasitic infections, and fertility.

Inflammation and Infection

A review of studies suggests pomegranate may help fight chronic inflammation. That may give it a use in conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Larger and better-designed trials are needed, though.

Inflammation is part of your immune response to infection. Studies suggest pomegranate juice may help ward off infections. In one study, dialysis patients had:

  • Fewer hospitalizations for infections
  • Fewer signs of inflammation

Again, more research is needed.

Dental Plaque

Limited evidence suggests pomegranate juice may help control dental plaque.

In a small study, 30 people used either a pomegranate dental rinse, an antiseptic dental rinse, or water. Researchers found the pomegranate solution performed just as well as the antiseptic solution. It had no negative side effects.

It also appeared to inhibit the growth of germs that contribute to periodontitis (an inflammatory gum disease).

Other Uses

Research is ongoing into other health benefits of pomegranate, including:

It's too soon to know whether it's safe and effective for these conditions.

Recap

Pomegranate juice may improve your heart health, lower inflammation, fight infection, and prevent plaque build-up on your teeth. Evidence is promising but limited for these and other uses.

Possible Side Effects

Typical amounts of pomegranate juice are likely safe for most people. But certain people should exercise caution.

It's possible to be allergic to pomegranates. This can cause:

  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction)

If you have oral allergy syndrome, you may be sensitive to pomegranate. This condition involves allergies to birch pollen and many fruits.

If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your healthcare provider if pomegranate juice is safe for you.

Some people have digestive side effects from pomegranate. Diarrhea is the most common one. Pomegranate root, stem, and peel contain substances that may be harmful in large amounts.

Pomegranate juice may also interact negatively with some medications.

Cholesterol Medication Interactions

Some early evidence suggests it's dangerous to combine pomegranate with statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs). These include:

  • Lipitor (atorvastatin)
  • Mevacor (lovastatin)
  • Zocor (simvastatin)

The combination may cause rhabdomyolysis. That's a serious condition involving the breakdown of muscle fibers and possibly kidney failure.

This may be due to pomegranates blocking an enzyme in the intestines. That makes you absorb more of the medication.

Grapefruit juice is better known for this effect and many medication labels warn against drinking it.

Other Potential Interactions

Pomegranate juice may interact with other medications, such as:

  • Antiarrhythmics: Drugs for irregular heart rhythms. Includes Cordarone (amiodarone), Norpace (disopyramide), quinidine.
  • Calcium channel blockers: Drugs that lower blood pressure. Includes Plendil (felodipine), Cardene (nicardipine), Procardia (nifedipine), Nimotop (nimodipine), Sular (nisoldipine).
  • Immunosuppressants: Drugs for autoimmune disease. Includes Sandimmune, Neoral (cyclosporine), Prograf (tacrolimus)
  • Protease inhibitors: Anti-retroviral drugs. Includes Invirase (saquinavir), Norvir (ritonavir), Crixivan (indinavir).

Your healthcare provider and pharmacist can help you decide whether pomegranate juice is safe with the over-the-counter and prescription medications you take.

Recap

While pomegranate juice is largely safe, side effects, allergies, and drug interactions are possible.

Selection, Preparation, & Storage

You'll find pomegranate juice at most grocery stores. It may be in the juice aisle or alongside whole fruit.

Organic juice may help you avoid harmful chemicals. Also, check the label to see if other juices or sweeteners are added.

Consider whether you want pasteurized juice. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria, but it may also kill other compounds in the juice.

Some people choose to make their own fresh pomegranate juice. To do this, liquify the seeds in a blender. Then strain the juice to remove roughage.

Summary

Some early evidence suggests pomegranate juice may improve heart health, fight inflammation and infection, and prevent dental plaque. More research is needed.

Ask your healthcare provider if pomegranate juice is safe for you. It can cause side effects, allergies, and negative drug interactions in some people.

A Word From Verywell

For most people, it's safe to drink pomegranate juice in moderate amounts. Plus, it's generally healthy and safe to try.

Remember that even natural products can be dangerous for some people or in certain situations. Be safe and check with a healthcare practitioner any time you use foods as medicine.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should I look for when buying a whole pomegranate?

    You'll find the best ones when the fruit is in season. That starts in late summer and goes into early winter.

    • A ripe pomegranate should feel heavy.
    • The skin should be bright or deep red and feel firm and leathery.
    • Browning means it's likely past its prime.
    • Abrasions on the skin don't affect its quality.
  • What is the best way to store a whole pomegranate?

    You can keep a pomegranate at room temperature for a week or two. Refrigeration can keep it fresh for up to three months. Keep it whole until you're ready to eat it.
    If you do remove the seeds, keep them in the refrigerator.

19 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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Additional Reading
  • Therapeutic Resource Center, Natural Medicine Database: Professional Monograph. Pomegranate.

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.