The pomegranate juice craze has held steady for over a decade. It’s obviously something the mainstream considers to be “healthy” as you can see clear spikes in the Google Search trend line that correlate with when people tend to be focusing on their health, such as January.
In other words, when people decide to “get healthy,” they also seem to start drinking pomegranate juice.
What the mainstream thinks is healthy and what’s actually healthy are often two separate things, though. I want to take an objective, non-dogmatic look at pomegranate juice and see what I come up with.
The first thing I want to look at is the product that most people reach for when they think about drinking pomegranate juice. That would be Pom Wonderful Pomegranate Juice.
The first thing we’re going to do is toss out all the marketing-speak. Terms like, “antioxidant superpower” and “all natural.” None of that is a determination of healthfulness.
What I’m more interested in is the nutrition facts panel. From that we learn some important things:
- The drink is, in fact, 100% pomegranate juice. There are no other additives.
- There are 32 grams of sugar in 8 ounces. For context, an 8 ounce Coca Cola has 38 grams of sugar.
While sugar is not evil, it’s certainly something that needs to be included in the discussion. If people consider a drink to be “healthy,” they may overlook the potential downsides.
Drinking a bottle of pomegranate juice a day is not very different, metabolically, from drinking a coke every day. That’s certainly not advisable.
Real Benefits of Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranates contain two important compounds, punicalagins and punicic acid, that appears to be highly beneficial antioxidants. One study on Type 2 diabetics found a significant decrease in inflammation markers directly associated with the consumption of pomegranate juice over the course of 12 weeks.
A separate study, done over a 2-week period, found beneficial hypotensive effects (reduction of blood pressure) and cardiovascular effects.
Other cardiovascular health markers have shown improvement through pomegranate oil (not juice) consumption, such as reduced oxidation of LDL cholesterol and improvements in the triglycerides:HDL ratio.
The health impact here is not insignificant. These are real benefits directly acquired through the consumption of pomegranate juice.
Is Pomegranate Juice a Superfood?
While pomegranates do have unique antioxidant properties, their actual nutritional benefits appear to be overhyped. For example, if you compare the nutritional content (vitamins & minderals) of raw pomegranates to raw kale, you’ll find that the kale heavily beats out pomegranates in nearly every relevant category.
To put things in perspective, though, both foods are trampled in relevant nutrition markers by beef liver. I wanted to mention this because mainstream thinking continues to perpetuate the myth that fruits and vegetables offer the most nutritional bang for your buck. It’s simply not the case.
Let’s choose Vitamin A for example. 100g of raw pomegranate seeds contain 0IU (zero) of VitA. Kale contains 9,990IU. Beef liver contains 16,898IU. Liver also wins by a long shot with B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and VitD. Liver also contains essential amino acids which neither kale or pomegranate possess.
Does pomegranate reach superfood status? Not for me.
Is Pomegranate Juice Good For You? Here’s My General Recommendation…
Due to the heavy sugar load of pomegranate juice, I’d recommend limiting its intake. If you are going to drink it occasionally, you can space out the consumption throughout the day to minimize the blood sugar spike.
Also be aware that the more physically active you are and the more on-point the rest of your diet and lifestyle is, the less the sugar content matters. An active body can be more productive with the sugars and carbs it’s given. A sedentary body, not so much. Sleep is an important factor as well as the quality and quantity of your sleep has an impact on how well your body can process sugars and carbohydrates.
You also may want to consider eating the raw seeds instead as you will get the fiber that comes along with it.
There are no magic pills in health and fitness. If your diet sucks and you’re generally sedentary and you think that incorporating pomegranate juice into your life is going to have some great positive impact, you’re lying to yourself.