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Pomegranate Juice and Pom Wonderful

Posted Aug 26 2008 12:17pm
If juices were Hollywood actors, pomegranate juice would be on the cover of People Magazine. It's definitely the up-and-coming star of the juice hit parade, and with good reason.

Researchers at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa suggest that long-term consumption of pomegranate juice may help slow aging and protect against heart disease. The lead researcher, Professor Michael Aviram, said that pomegranate juice contained the highest antioxidant capacity of any beverage they tested including other juices, red wine and even green tea.

A study presented at the American urological Association Annual Meeting looked at 48 men who had been treated for prostate cancer and were given 8 ounces of pomegranate juice to drink daily. Drinking the juice significantly lengthened the amount of time it took for the men's average PSA to double (PSA being a warning sign for prostate cancer). At least a half a dozen studies have shown positive effects of pomegranate on the heart.

I'm a big fan of pomegranate juice, and sang its praises in " The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth ". So I read with great interest when my friend Mark Blumenthal, president of the American Botanical Council, sent me a new research monograph. The American Botanical Council is one of the premiere portals for serious, scientific research on herbs. They're my "go-to" source when I want to find out what the science really says on any herb, and their monographs are first rate.

The monograph in question was on Pom Wonderful, one of the most popular of the supermarket brands of pomegranate juice. (I was surprised to find out that "Wonderful" isn't just the manufacturers description of the product- it's actually a specific, California-grown variety of Pomegranates, much like "Delicious" is a kind of red apple.)

Before I tell you what the monograph said, a few words of background and full disclosure. I don't have any connection to Pom Wonderful, and in fact, was predisposed not to like it much, thinking it might be just another sweetened juice drink that was trying to capitalize on the well-documented health benefits of "real", pure pomegranate juice. I don't sell it, don't own stock in it, and don't benefit in any way financially if you go out and buy it.

Just wanted to get that out of the way.

But the fact is, this is really, really good stuff. (Truth be told, I was surprised.) In research reported in the monograph, POM Wonderful PJ was found, in antioxidant activity, to be 100 times more powerful than blueberry juice and 300 times more powerful than grape juice. Turns out there are a total of 6 published human clinical trials on POM Wonderful PJ, including 4 cardiovascular studies and one on erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction? Yup. Apparently the antioxidant properties of Pomegranate juice may increase nitric oxide production, improve smooth muscle relaxation and reduce atherosclerotic plaque, all of which can contribute to ED. Forty two of the fifty-three subjects who completed the ED study attributed an improvement to drinking the beverage.

A word of clarification. Great as it may be, Pom Wonderful still has 32 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving, (a problem with virtually all fruit juices, not just Pom Wonderful ). If you're watching your sugar, if you're on a low-carb diet, or if you've got Diabetes or Metabolic Syndrome, this is something to be aware of, and this may not be a great food choice for you.

But if you drink juice and you don't have a problem with the sugar, Pom Wonderful is a rarity- a great supermarket brand, widely available, that seems to really deliver what it promises.
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