Claims about the health benefits of pomegranate juice are everywhere and many people are asserting that it is good for a wide range of illnesses. How much truth is there in these claims? Is it the miracle juice it is alleged to be? Let’s have a look at the facts about pomegranate juice and see if there is any proof for these claims.
Drinking pomegranate juice for its health benefits is not new, it has been practiced for hundreds of years. In the Ayurvedic system it is used to combat the effects of having an unhealthy diet and it has been used by many people for the relief of dysentery and to cure intestinal parasites. The rind, bark and juice have been used to stem nose bleeds and to tone the skin.
What are the facts about pomegranate juice?
Let’s start with the nutritional content. The juice, in common with many fruits, is high in vitamin C and it also contains a high concentration of vitamins B5, A, E and folic acid. There are also high levels of natural anti-oxidants. The seeds are high in fibre and unsaturated oils although most people discard the seeds and rind.
Do we have any scientific proof of the health benefits of pomegranate juice?
Most of the studies undertaken have been in vitro (in glass) laboratory experiments so cannot be directly used to confirm benefits in vivo (in life). A few studies with limited participants have found some benefits but larger scale trials would be needed to confirm this. In these studies there was a reduction in some factors that are linked to heart disease but not a direct link with heart disease itself. A slight drop in blood pressure was also noted. Some studies have also claimed that pomegranate juice can have an effect on viral infections.
No claims have been approved by the FDA for pomegranate’s health benefits and some manufacturers are still making unproven claims about their product. The American Heart Association does support the view that anti-oxidant rich foods are a help in preventing cardio vascular disease although they have not indicated pomegranate juice specifically.
Although the somewhat wild claims for the health benefits of pomegranate juice are not substantiated by scientific research to date the high levels of anti-oxidants and vitamins make it a healthy drink, although perhaps not the miracle drink it has been claimed to be.