6 Science-Backed Benefits Of Pomegranate Juice & How It Compares To Other Options
You likely know pomegranate juice for its ruby hue and tart, bitter flavor. Like other vibrant red fruit juices (think: cranberry and tart cherry), pomegranate juice is packed with phytonutrients.
While drinking a glass a day won't necessarily keep the doctor away, pomegranate juice can be a very healthy addition to your routine when consumed in moderation. Here's a rundown of the top benefits of pomegranate juice that science has supported and how they compare to those of other fruity beverages.
What is pomegranate juice?
Pomegranate juice is a sweet, slightly tart beverage that is derived from the pomegranate, a fruit that bears hundreds of edible seeds called arils.
These seeds are pressed to extract the juice. Some brands will also whole-press the entire pomegranate to release the polyphenols in the rind, pith, and arils to optimize its potential antioxidant benefits.
Drinking pomegranate juice is a convenient way to benefit from the nutrients a whole pomegranate offers—minus the all-important fiber. But don't let the lack of roughage dissuade you from sipping on this naturally colorful drink. You'll still get an impressive punch of nutrients regardless of whether you eat pomegranate in fruit form or if you sip it.
However, it's worth noting that pomegranate juice is higher in sugar and calories than some other options, like cranberry juice and tart cherry juice. Some companies also add additional sugar to their pomegranate juice to mask the tart flavor, which can counteract some of its natural health benefits.
Pomegranate juice nutrition
- Calories: 134
- Fat: 0.7 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Sodium: 22.4 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 32.6 grams
- Fiber: 0.2 grams
- Sugar: 31.4 grams
- Potassium: 533 milligrams
Benefits of pomegranate juice
The compounds in pomegranate juice may support health in a few ways. Here are the benefits that are backed by science (though some of it is in early stages).
It contains gut-supporting prebiotics
Even though pomegranate juice is fiber-free, it may still support gut health.
Minich highlights one study that evaluated the effects of pomegranate juice on the growth of certain gut-healthy strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. This study suggested that these bacteria may use a compound naturally found in pomegranate juice, ellagic acid, as a prebiotic fiber4, helping these "good" bacteria thrive. This is one reason why physician and researcher William Li, M.D. recommended drinking pomegranate juice for gut health on the mindbodygreen podcast.
However, since this study was conducted in vitro (in a lab and not on human subjects), more data is clearly needed before we can confirm pomegranate juice's effect on the gut microbiome.
On the other side of the coin, pomegranate juice may also have antimicrobial activity. Compounds found in the juice may inhibit the growth of 5Helicobacter pylori5, a bacteria that has been linked to an increased risk of stomach ulcers, and in some cases, stomach cancer. However, more studies need to be conducted to demonstrate if there is indeed a link between pomegranate juice and stomach cancer risk.
It may support heart health—but we need more research to be sure.
"Studies suggest that pomegranate juice can help protect your heart due to the potassium and antioxidant content," Chaudhry explains. "Antioxidants like ellagitannins can help prevent plaque buildup in arteries while the potassium content is great for lowering blood pressure," she adds.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of trials investigating the effects of pomegranate juice consumption and blood pressure showed significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure 6after pomegranate juice consumption.
Other data shows that drinking pomegranate juice for eight weeks showed beneficial effects on blood pressure, serum triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, oxidative stress, and inflammation7. It is important to note that this study only focused on hemodialysis (kidney failure) patients, so more research is needed.
It may support kidney health when paired with a healthy diet.
Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. These stones often result from concentrated urine, allowing minerals to crystallize and stick together. And trying to get rid of them can be quite painful.
Diets with a higher intake of vegetables and fruits may help reduce the risk of kidney stones. Specifically, pomegranate juice may help support kidney health in healthy people, as past data shows it may help combat calcium-containing kidney stone development9.
People with a diagnosis of kidney disease who are required to limit their potassium intake may also have to limit their pomegranate juice intake, though. The exact amount you should drink should be discussed with your health care provider.
It may support brain health via anti-inflammatory pathways.
Your memory, perception, learning, and problem-solving ability all depend on having a healthy brain. To keep all of these factors in tiptop shape, consuming foods that help keep inflammation and oxidative stress at-bay may offer some unique benefits.
The antioxidant properties of pomegranate are even more active than any other sources of dietary polyphenols,10 such as green tea. The juice's high amount of antioxidants may protect against age-related cognitive decline by combating oxidative stress11 when paired with other brain-healthy foods and lifestyle habits.
"Pomegranate juice for brain health10 is an emerging area of study," Minich explains. "Studies have shown that pomegranate juice may attenuate brain injuries14, neurodegeneration15 related to diseases, and memory loss16 due to anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. More research is needed, but pomegranate juice may become an adjunct resource for disease management."
It may help you reach your exercise goals.
For active people, including pomegranate juice in their health routine may help fuel exercise goals, in part thanks to the polyphenols this drink provides. But research here is still in its early days.
According to the data we have, certain types of polyphenol antioxidants, like those found in pomegranate juice, may help your blood vessels widen17, allowing more blood to flow to your tissues. Since blood helps transport both oxygen and nutrients, this effect may help fuel your working body when it needs it most.
One small study found that athletic men who drank around 16 ounces of pomegranate juice per day for about two weeks maintained more of their post-exercise arm strength18 versus those who did not consume pomegranate juice.
It may help protect your skin structure and appearance.
Finally, there is some clinical research to show that whole-fruit pomegranate extracts can enhance photoprotection20 in the skin, helping your skin cells recover from damage caused by UV light exposure. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial found that daily pomegranate consumption could help with sun-induced pigmentation.
How to add it to your routine
Incorporating pomegranate juice into your daily routine can be an easy and enjoyable process. Here are some ways to introduce it to your diet:
- Sip it in the morning: Start your day with a refreshing glass of pomegranate juice as part of your breakfast. This provides an antioxidant-rich start to your day and promotes hydration.
- Add it to your smoothies & shakes: You can also use it as a mixer in your smoothies or protein shakes after workout sessions for an added boost of nutrition.
- Make it sparkle: For a midday pick-me-up, consider combining pomegranate juice with sparkling water for a homemade, healthy soda.
- Use it as a marinade: Home cooks can experiment by using this juice as a marinade for meats or a dressing for salads.
- Try an extract: Pomegranate extract is a potent concentrate derived from the pomegranate fruit. It's typically made by drying and grinding the fruit into a powder, which retains the nutrients of the pomegranate.
- Opt for powder: Pomegranate juice can also be consumed in the form of a powder. You can mix pomegranate extract powder into a glass of water, blend it into fruit and vegetable smoothies, add it to hot teas, or even sprinkle it on top of salads or yogurt.
Recommended serving size
While the optimal amount of pomegranate juice can vary based on individual health needs and diet, consuming about 8 ounces (one cup) of pomegranate juice daily should be safe for most adults.
As with any dietary change, it's recommended to consult a health care professional before incorporating a substantial quantity of pomegranate juice into your daily routine.
When shopping for pomegranate juice, the best approach is to look for 100% pure pomegranate juice with no added sugars or other fruit juices. Check the label to ensure it's made only from pomegranate and doesn't contain preservatives or artificial flavors.
For those considering pomegranate extract powder, opt for products that are organic and free of fillers or additional additives.
Vs. other fruit juices
Wondering how pomegranate juice stacks up to other juices in the same polyphenol-packed color family? Here's a quick rundown of what to sip when.
Pomegranate vs. Cranberry
When consumed in pure, unsweetened forms, both juices offer a range of vitamins and minerals.
Pomegranate juice usually has higher sugar content and more calories than cranberry juice. Therefore, cranberry juice might be better if you're watching your sugar intake or calorie count.
Pomegranate vs. Tart Cherry
In terms of nutritional profile, tart cherry juice usually contains less sugar and fewer calories than pomegranate juice, making it a suitable option for those mindful of their sugar and calorie intake.
Pomegranate vs. Beetroot
Beetroot juice is popular for its high content of nitrates, which are known to support healthy blood flow and blood pressure, even though pomegranate juice may offer a similar benefit.
Furthermore, beetroot juice also contains betalains22, which have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties. Beetroot juice is usually lower than pomegranate juice in sugar and calories. However, beetroot juice may have a distinct earthy flavor that some might find less appealing than pomegranate juice's sweet and slightly tart taste.
Ultimately, choosing between the two would depend on specific health requirements and taste preferences. Both juices can contribute positively to overall health and well-being when consumed sensibly.
Pomegranate juice side effects
Despite its many health benefits, pomegranate juice is not without its potential side effects.
Consuming large amounts may lead to digestive upset, including diarrhea and nausea. Furthermore, because of its high antioxidant content, it can potentially interfere with certain prescriptions, such as blood thinners and blood pressure medications. Also, it's worth noting that pomegranate juice can significantly increase calorie and sugar intake if consumed in excess.
If blood sugar management is a concern for you, consuming whole pomegranate may be a more favorable option than drinking pomegranate juice. Whole pomegranates, with their edible seeds, contain dietary fiber, which slows down digestion and the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, ultimately preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
Conversely, pomegranate juice, especially if commercially prepared and sweetened, contains a high concentration of sugars that can quickly enter the bloodstream and cause blood sugar levels to spike.
How much pomegranate juice can you drink a day?
"Benefits to health may be achieved in a range of 100-500 mL (~5-17 ounces) per day," Minich explains. "Individuals who are taking medications or are pregnant/breastfeeding should consult their primary care doctors prior to consuming daily pomegranate juice." If you're new to drinking the juice, try an 8-oz glass to start and see how it makes you feel. Drinking it in large quantities may cause digestive upset, including diarrhea and nausea, in some people.
Is pomegranate juice good for your kidneys?
Pomegranate juice may have potential benefits for kidney health. The potent antioxidants in pomegranate juice, notably punicalagins, are believed to help protect the kidneys from damage by reducing oxidative stress. Some data suggests it may help reduce the risk of kidney stones, too, but more research is needed.
Pomegranate juice contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants. Its antioxidants, including punicalagins and punicic acid, may help reduce inflammation, a key risk factor in many serious diseases, as well as support heart health and brain health. However, pomegranate juice is not a miracle drink: like anything, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian, freelance writer, and three-time book author who has been in the field for over 20 years. She is a frequent contributor to many media outlets, a national speaker, and a content creator for @LaurenLovesNutrition, with a special focus on women's health.
Lauren lives in Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband and daughter, and during their free time, they enjoy boating, crabbing, fishing, and exploring everything that the Holy City has to offer.