Pomegranate: The Wellness Fruit

By Joyce Hendley, M.S., November/December 2008

This antioxidant-rich superfood may help protect against arthritis, diabetes and a long list of other diseases.

Arthritis is just the latest in a long list of conditions for which pomegranate juice shows therapeutic potential. Research suggests the fruit has benefits for the heart: studies have shown it may help to reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries and lower blood pressure. Other work found that when men with prostate cancer drank a cup of pomegranate juice daily, the increase in their levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a marker of disease progress, slowed. Still more preliminary studies hint that pomegranate juice may help manage diabetes and erectile dysfunction.

Critics point out that much of this research, including the recent study out of Case Western, has been funded by PomWonderful—the leading pomegranate juice brand—which has poured some $25 million into clinical research involving the fruit. But others point out that the results—much of them published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals—speak for themselves.

Bottom Line: It’s still too early to recommend drinking pomegranate juice to alleviate arthritis symptoms, but a cup a day of 100 percent juice delivers plenty of antioxidants that may provide other health benefits. Check with your doctor first, however, as pomegranate juice may interact with some medications, including statins. Don’t forget fresh pomegranates—in season now. Although you don’t get as many tannins eating the seeds as drinking the juice, you will get a bit of fiber and abundant punicic acid, a polyunsaturated heart-healthy oil.

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