Pomegranate juice has been touted by many as a heart-healthy beverage. In fact, some advocates of the beverage suggest that pomegranate juice may also be able to help lower your lipids. But does it really work? Although there is some evidence out there to suggest that pomegranate juice may promote heart health, there isn’t enough information out there yet to indicate that you should ditch your cholesterol medications in favor of this tasty drink.
What Do the Studies Have to Say?Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of studies out there that examine the effects of pomegranate on cholesterol and triglycerides specifically. Those that do exist, which have been conducted on both humans and animals, have yielded mixed results. While some of them suggest that triglycerides and total cholesterol levels are slightly lowered (between 3% and 10%), other studies suggest that pomegranate may not have an effect on your lipid panel.
What studies have found, however, is that the antioxidant properties of pomegranate juice may help to reduce oxidized LDL and plaque formation associated with atherosclerosis. While LDL cholesterol is also known as the “bad” cholesterol, it can be modified to a more sinister form of LDL cholesterol called oxidized LDL. It is this form of LDL that can damage the inner walls of arteries and promote the formation of atherosclerosis.
One study found that oxidation of LDL in the 10 of its participants who drank 50 mL of pomegranate juice (1 part concentrated pomegranate juice diluted in 5 parts water) daily for one year was reduced, compared to the 9 individuals who consumed a placebo drink that was similar in color and taste. Additionally, carotid intima-media thickness, which measures plaque thickness in the carotid artery, was reduced by up to 30% in individuals drinking pomegranate juice, compared to a 9% increase in carotid intima-media thickness noted in those consuming the placebo drink. There are other studies that echo the beneficial, antioxidant properties of pomegranate juice; these studies are very limited, however.
The Bottom LineAlthough pomegranate juice has shown promise in improving heart health, more studies are needed assess whether or not pomegranate can help lower your lipids and your risk of plaque formation. Studies to date have not shown that pomegranate juice can definitively lower cholesterol, but they have shown that this beverage may help to reduce the formation of atherosclerosis.
If you decide to add pomegranate juice to your cholesterol-lowering regimen, you should be aware that this beverage may interact with certain drugs. Make sure to consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist to make sure that pomegranate juice will not interfere with any of your other medications.
Aviram M, Dorenfeld L, Rosenblat M et al. Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress low density lipoproteins modifications and platelet aggregation:studies in the atherosclerotic E0 mice and in humans.Am J Clin Nutr 2000,71:1062-1076.
Aviram M, Rosenblat M, Gaitini D, et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clinical Nutrition 2004; 23:423-233.
Huang TH, Peng G, Kota BP, et al. Pomegranate flower improves cardiac lipid metabolism in a diabetic rat model: role of lowering circulating lipids. Br J Pharmacol 2005;145:767-774.
Sorokin AV, Duncan B, Panetta R, et al. Rhabdomyolysis associated with pomegranate juice consumption. American Journal of Cardiology 2006; 98:705-6.