The Middle Eastern fruit is claimed to be effective against heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers, including prostate cancer.
We’ve teamed up with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to examine whether the health claims made about the fruit are supported by the evidence.
Pomegranate is a good source of fibre. It also contains vitamins A, C and E, iron and other antioxidants (notably tannins)
One small study from 2006 found that drinking a daily 227ml (8oz) glass of pomegranate juice significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer in men with recurring prostate cancer. This was a well-conducted study, but more studies are needed to find the evidence to support these findings.
Carotid artery stenosis
A good quality study from 2004 on patients with carotid artery stenosis (narrowed arteries) found that a daily glass of 50ml (1.7oz) of pomegranate juice over three years reduced the damage caused by cholesterol in the artery by almost half, and also cut cholesterol build-up. However, these effects are not clearly understood and the study did not say what the results mean for conditions such as stroke.
A well-conducted trial from 2005 on 45 patients with coronary heart disease demonstrated that a daily drink of 238ml (8.4oz) of pomegranate juice administered over three months resulted in improved blood flow to the heart and a lower risk of heart attack. The study did not say what the results mean for conditions such as heart attacks, and with such a small trial the positive results reported could be down to chance.
The dietitian’s verdict
Alison Hornby, a dietitian and BDA spokesperson, says the evidence around the health benefits of pomegranates are inconclusive.
She says: “Research suggests there may be a benefit but we’ve not shown it yet. The studies that have found an improvement in existing health conditions were very small and more investigation into the role pomegranate plays in these improvements is needed.
“A 150ml glass of pomegranate juice counts as one of your 5 A Day. Make sure to avoid brands with added sugar. You could also add pomegranate seeds to cold dishes and salads. It’s a healthy and appetising way to increase the nutritional value of your meal.”
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