Pomegranate fruit extract is a rich source of polyphenols, chemicals in plants that provide their flavor and color. Polyphenols are also antioxidants, that are thought to provide several heart-protecting benefits, including reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol. And the level of these antioxidants is higher than do many other fruit juices. The fruit is also rich in vitamins A, C and E and iron.
We can understand why they have been used as medicine for thousands of years.
One study of mice with atherosclerosis found that pomegranate juice slowed the growth of plaque formation. A few small human studies in people found that pomegranate juice improved blood flow and kept arteries from becoming thick and stiff. Preliminary evidence suggests that drinking pomegranate juice every day may help lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) but not diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). Other studies suggest that prolonged pomegranate juice intake improves cardiovascular risk factors, slowing the progression of plaque build up on the arteries and enhancing immunity.
In one human study, men who had surgery or radiation for prostate cancer lengthened the amount of time it took for their PSA levels to double by drinking 8 oz. of pomegranate juice each day. Men whose PSA levels double in a short period of time are at higher risk of death from prostate cancer. Those who drank pomegranate juice increased the time it took for their PSA levels to double from about 15 months to 54 months.
As you should do with any herbal or dietary supplement, talk to your doctor about pomegranate juice before you start drinking it regularly as a supplement. Pomegranate juice may cause dangerous side effects when it interacts with certain prescription medications.
Researchers believe flavonols (type of antioxidant found in pomegranate) can help block inflammation that contributes to the destruction of cartilage. In test tubes, pomegranate extract blocked the production of an enzyme that destroys cartilage in the body. In one review of the scientific literature, researchers concluded that all of the studies reported positive effects of pomegranate juice or extract on osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.