The People's Perspective on Medicine

Pomegranate Juice Is Good for Your Brain, Based on Science

There is growing evidence that pomegranate juice can help control inflammation in the body. That could mean that pomegranate juice is good for your brain.
Fresh half of pomegranate juice on an isolated background

You might be surprised to learn that researchers have been studying pomegranate juice and brain function for quite some time. In introducing their study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Jan. 2020), researchers provide this background suggesting pomegranate juice is good for your brain:

“Antioxidant nutrients such as the polyphenols in pomegranate juice may prevent neuronal damage from the free radicals produced during normal metabolism. Previous research in animals and a short-term clinical trial in middle-aged and older adults support the potential memory benefits of pomegranate juice; however, the long-term effects of pomegranate juice consumption on cognition have not been studied.”

A Long-Term Study: Pomegranate Is Good for Your Brain:

The investigators from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Pacific Brain Health Center note that forgetfulness and loss of memory may be caused in part by oxidative damage that leads to brain inflammation. They suggest that exercise, social interaction and a healthy diet could be beneficial.

In particular, these investigators note that:

“A promising line of research has focused on foods that contain properties beneficial to healthy brain functioning. Investigators have found that various nutrients such as curcumin, sage, vitamin D, ω-3 fatty acids, and antioxidant foods may help to maintain cognitive function during aging.

“Some phytonutrients including pomegranate ellagitannins may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and thus could maintain brain health during aging.”

In their study, these neuroscientists recruited 200 people. These subjects were randomized to receive either a a daily cup of pomegranate juice or a look-alike, taste-alike placebo drink. They were tested at the beginning of the study and again at six and 12 months. This qualifies as a long-term clinical trial.

People drinking the placebo beverage had a significant decline in their visual/spatial memory during this time whereas the group drinking pomegranate juice were just as capable at the end as at the beginning of the trial.

The authors conclude:

“…these findings that pomegranate juice maintains visual memory skills in middle-aged and older adults could have a potential impact on visual memory issues commonly associated with aging.”

Why Pomegranate Juice is Good for Your Brain:

Pomegranate juice has impressive antioxidant properties. Ingredients in pomegranate juice, especially ellagitannins, can ease oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. European investigators note that pomegranate juice may be “neuroprotective” against Parkinson’s disease (International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Dec. 27, 2019). 

Pomegranate Juice and Your Body:

The antioxidant activity of pomegranate juice is not confined to the brain.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of pomegranate juice for helping control blood pressure concluded (Pharmacological Research, Jan. 2017): 

“The present meta-analysis suggests consistent benefits of pomegranate juice consumption on BP. This evidence suggests it may be prudent to include this fruit juice in a heart-healthy diet.”

Another review in Current Pharmaceutical Design (July, 2017) concluded: 

“Pomegranate juice possesses antioxidant, anti-hypertensive and anti-atherosclerotic properties.”

What has been your experience with pomegranate juice? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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Citations
  • Siddarth, P., et al, "Randomized placebo-controlled study of the memory effects of pomegranate juice in middle-aged and older adults.," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jan. 1, 2020, doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqz241
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One serving (cup) of pomegranate juice has 31 grams of sugar. Is it still worth it?

How much is recommended? I drink 50 ml/day because I heard on NPR about an Israeli study a few years ago that had good results with that much. No hint whether more would make a difference.

Is one cup the recommended amount? I find pomegranate juice in many ‘healthy’ juice mixes but there is no indication of how much pom juice is in each serving–if pom juice is listed first, does that mean it contains more pomegranate juice than other juices? I’m looking at an organic pomegranate juice blend that lists pomegranate, apple, pear, grape, and tart cherry. I’m guessing apple, pear, and grape are there for sweetness rather than any health value. Is pomegranate juice tart?

Was the juice in the experiment fresh, or was it processed (that is, heated to be sealed in a can or jar)?

Please add me to the list of people here asking about pomegranate seeds as opposed to the juice. I would really like to know if there is a similar benefit. I generally avoid juices due to the sugar content.

What about pomegranate seeds? Has anyone studied them? And how do they compare with pomegranate juice in antioxidant properties?

This fits in with what I am reading in Dr William Li’s new book, Eat to Beat Disease. Food is the key to good health. Exciting times to learn what will extend one’s life. Thank you for all you do to keep us informed.

My father was given 3-6 months to live after learning he had head and neck cancer at 75 years old. Although he always ate what was in medical “fashion” my whole life, he included pomegranate and cherry juice in his diet- with that said, he lived to be almost 90 and literally lived with the grotesque after-effects of his cancer, and cancer treatments. Not sure if that’s just a coincidence or due to his nutrient- dense diet, (don’t get me wrong, he loved his ice cream and pizza!) but he lived a long, wonderful life despite his health challenges! He also had an AWESOME attitude!

Is the whole fruit equally helpful in reducing inflammation, or is it just the juice of the pomegranate that is helpful?

I love pomegranate’s, I’d rather have the juice from eating one as oppose to drinking just the juice.

Naturally tart pomegranate juice is widely available in a nationally advertised product, but Aldi groceries carry an equally delicious 100% product at less than half the price. They also carry super sweet 100% cherry juice and super tart 100% cranberry juice.

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