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Can Pomegranate Juice Reduce Plaque Buildup in the Arteries?

By Sydney Hornby, M.D.

Although some research supports the premise that drinking pomegranate juice reduces arterial plaque buildup, other studies have proven inconclusive. At the time of publication, MedlinePlus has determined that insufficient evidence exists to support the claim. Even so, thanks to its potent supply of antioxidants, pomegranate juice is still one of the healthiest juices in the world, according to research done at the University of California, Los Angeles, and published in 2008 in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry."


Arteriosclerosis is a disease in which cholesterol and other fat in your blood slowly begins to attach to the walls of your arteries. Over time, your arteries begin to build up with plaque and harden. This constricts the flow of blood through your arteries, possibly causing blood clots, high blood pressure, angina or a heart attack. Dietary and lifestyle changes can slow down the plaque growth, but the only treatment to remove the arterial plaque is surgery or medication.


In the June 2004 issue of "Clinical Nutrition," a team of Israeli and American researchers discuss the results of a three-year study examining the effect of pomegranate juice on arterial plaque. Researchers first began to notice a difference after 12 months of juice consumption. At that point, the arterial wall thickness of the control group had grown 9 percent, but it had decreased by up to 30 percent in the pomegranate juice group. The study was small, just five women and 14 men. Further research using larger study groups is necessary to prove the benefits of pomegranate juice.


In the "Clinical Nutrition" study, researchers used fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice diluted with five parts water. Patients drank 50 ml of pomegranate juice each day. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, as long as the pomegranate juice you're drinking is naturally sweetened, without any added sugars, you may safely drink up to 12 oz. daily.


If you have arteriosclerosis, do not rely on pomegranate juice to treat your condition. Work with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan, which may include an appointment with a nutritionist. If you also have high blood pressure and are taking medication to control your condition, be aware that pomegranate juice may interact with such medicine, as well as with statins, which are used to control cholesterol, and with angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors, which are used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure.

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