Want to Give Your Brain *and* Immune System a Boost? Sip on Pomegranate Juice

Photo: Stocksy//Andrey Pavlov
If you think of the produce section as a treasure trove of healthy jewels, ruby-colored pomegranates are prized gems. Yet, how often do you find yourself grabbing for one? It's easy to see why: They aren't as easy (or convenient) to nosh on than, say, a banana. However, skipping on this tangy, tasty fruit can mean you're missing out on some rather noteworthy pomegranate benefits.

If you're unfamiliar with pomegranates, they're a round, red fruit traditionally grown in the Mediterranean region (the land of so many delicious longevity-boosting foods). But, like most things in life, it's what's on the inside (of a pomegranate) that really counts. Crack one open and you'll find they're packed with juicy, crunchy seeds called arils, which are the main edible part of the fruit. Best part? Pomegranates are super sweet, with a slightly tart taste with a gorgeous cherry-colored hue. Swoon.

Experts In This Article

Although you can eat the seeds on their own, many find that enjoying the fruit in its juiced form is one of the best (and most popular) ways to consume it. The good news is that you can often find pomegranate juice in the refrigerated section of the produce department at most grocery stores. Or, you can also make it yourself using fresh pomegranates by seeding the pomegranates and then blending the seeds and pulp using a blender until the consistency is smooth. Either way, pomegranate juice benefits are plentiful.

To learn more about pomegranate juice we caught up with two registered dietitians, including side effects to be aware of before introducing it to your daily routine, and creative ways to sip on it at home.

9 dietitian-backed pomegranate juice benefits

1. It's high in antioxidants

According to Rachel Berman, RD, a registered dietitian and general manager of Verywell, it's important to note that one of the downsides of consuming pomegranate juice rather than the fruit in its whole form is losing out on some of the nutrients, including fiber and vitamin A. However, even in its beverage form, pomegranate juice has other impressive health benefits to offer, such as its high antioxidant content. "Pomegranate juice is a rich source of punicalagins, which are powerful antioxidants," she says. Research shows that punicalagins have been linked to helping reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

2. It may improve brain health

Pomegranate is one of our favorite brain-boosting foods. Why? According to a scientific study of adults with mild memory complaints found that participants who consumed pomegranate juice did better on memory tests than those who didn't. The reason for this is likely due to the fact that the pomegranate antioxidants help with blood flow to the brain, which is good for cognitive function and a way to effectively help reset your brain. Healthy brain food? We're all for it.

It's also worth noting that a small study found that consuming pomegranate juice was linked to reducing inflammatory markers in the brain, suggesting another link between the juice and brain health. Delicious breakfast for brain health? Hi. Foods that cause brain fog? Bye.

3. It helps reduce inflammation

Thanks to pomegranate juice antioxidants, drinking this beverage can help reduce inflammation and fight free radicals in the body that can cause damage to your body's cells. This is connected to everything from rejuvenating skin to warding off chronic diseases, including cognitive impairment.

4. It has immune-boosting benefits

Berman says that while store-bought pomegranate juice tends to have lost some of the fruit's vitamin C content by the time it makes it to your cup due to oxidation (one cup typically of juice has 0.25 milligrams of vitamin C, while a cup of the fruit itself has about 29 milligrams of vitamin C), if you make your own, much of it can be retained through the pulp. That said, sipping fresh pomegranate juice (the fresher, the better) can potentially help boost immunity and is an excellent food for immune system health.

Of course, pomegranate juice should be consumed in conjunction with other healthy foods and habits to reap the most benefits. But if you're looking for some extra immunity benefits, adding a bit of ginger and turmeric (and black pepper) to your pomegranate juice can help do the trick. You can officially consider pomegranates your go-to source of natural immune support.

5. It's good for your skin

The combined powers of the punicalagins and vitamin C make pomegranate juice a pretty fantastic beauty beverage. Vitamin C helps with collagen production, which helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles from the inside out. And because punicalagins help fight free radicals, it helps rejuvenate the skin. According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, in order to reap the benefits on your skin health, you'll need to ensure you're keeping up with your regular intake of pomegranate juice.

6. It helps promote good sleep

While you'll reap the benefits of pomegranate juice any time of the day, its magnesium content (one cup contains 17 milligrams) makes it a particularly good pre-bedtime drink as magnesium is linked to promoting good sleep.

7. It can with muscle recovery

The high magnesium content in pomegranate juice also makes is a great post-workout recovery drink. Scientific studies have linked magnesium consumption with helping muscles better repair from the wear and tear of strenuous workouts.

8. It's packed with potassium

One cup of pomegranate juice has 533 milligrams of potassium, which can help put a dent in the recommended  3,500 milligrams you want to aim to get a day. Potassium is an important nutrient for heart health, connected to lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also helps keep sodium levels balanced.

9. It can help boost heart health

Honestly, is there anything this stuff can't do? Pomegranate juice is linked to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure if consumed regularly. This is because of all those powerful antioxidants, which can potentially reduce the amount of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol in the body.

Who should not eat pomegranate?

Because pomegranate juice is so sweet, many healthy eaters may wonder if the sugar content impacts the health benefits. (It has about 31 grams per eight ounces, depending on the brand.) Berman's verdict: Don't obsess over it. "Sugar in fruit is totally natural and nothing to be concerned about in moderation," she says. But it's a high dose in one serving, so just be aware of what other sources of sugar you're consuming that day.

While the sugar content is nothing to worry too much about for most, there are other factors to keep in mind when consuming pomegranate juice. Much like with any food, although rare, some folks could be allergic. Signs of this typically include itching, swelling, a running nose, and trouble breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking pom juice, it's best to steer clear.

If you plan to make pomegranate juice a regular part of your wellness routine, but are taking any other medications or supplements, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor first—just to be safe. Manaker also notes that individuals with low blood pressure or those on blood pressure medication should exercise caution. "The fruit's natural ability to reduce blood pressure could potentially interact with these medications, leading to excessively low levels," she says.

Delicious ways to get the most pomegranate juice benefits

1. Use it as a base for a mocktail

Cranberry juice may have been your mixer of choice in college, but pomegranate juice can be used in similar ways. Combine it with saffron, orange juice, and lime juice, for a mocktail that's the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

2. Combine it with other fruit juices

A nice, icy glass of apple and pomegranate juice on a hot day is downright refreshing. What's even cooler? All your need to make this drink is a pomegranate, two red apples, and a juicer. Plain and simple. The key to getting the most health benefits while enjoying this drink is to buy the fruits fresh instead of mixing together bottled pomegranate and apple juice. As we previously noted, drinking bottled pomegranate juice may result in missing out on some of the benefits from the fruit, like vitamin C. That's to say, ultimately the benefits—and the taste—of making this drink from scratch will be worth the effort.

3. Cook with it

Pomegranate and its juice are often used in many cuisines, such as Moroccan cooking. That said, there are tons of ways to incorporate pomegranates into your cooking, from garnishing a salad to making yourself a drink combining pomegranate juice, orange blossom water, orange juice, lemon juice, and a touch of honey. Swoon.

Looking for other healthy, immune-boosting foods? Check out the video below:

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Chen, Baosheng et al. “Punicalagin, a polyphenol in pomegranate juice, downregulates p53 and attenuates hypoxia-induced apoptosis in cultured human placental syncytiotrophoblasts.” American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism vol. 305,10 (2013): E1274-80. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00218.2013
  2. Bookheimer, Susan Y et al. “Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2013 (2013): 946298. doi:10.1155/2013/946298
  3. Carr, Anitra C, and Silvia Maggini. “Vitamin C and Immune Function.” Nutrients vol. 9,11 1211. 3 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9111211
  4. Zhang, Yijia et al. “Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance?.” Nutrients vol. 9,9 946. 28 Aug. 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9090946
  5. Zarfeshany, Aida et al. “Potent health effects of pomegranate.” Advanced biomedical research vol. 3 100. 25 Mar. 2014, doi:10.4103/2277-9175.129371
  6. Petersen, Arnd et al. “Anaphylactic reactions to pomegranate: identification and characterization of eliciting IgE-reactive components.” Clinical and Translational Allergy vol. 1,Suppl 1 P88. 12 Aug. 2011, doi:10.1186/2045-7022-1-S1-P88
  7. Sohrab, Golbon et al. “Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences vol. 19,3 (2014): 215-20.

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