DENVER—In recent years, studies have claimed multiple health benefits from drinking pomegranate juice, including that it is a good source of antioxidants and may help lower both blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure, especially in diabetic and hypertensive patients. 

Now, new data suggest that pomegranate juice may ward off a number of complications in dialysis patients. In addition, researchers have found that drinking this juice may lower morbidity due to infections and cardiovascular events.

Israeli researchers studied 101 dialysis patients who received either pomegranate juice or a placebo drink at the beginning of each dialysis session three times a week for one year. 

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Patients who drank the juice experienced reduced inflammation, and laboratory tests showed that damage from oxidative stress caused by free radicals was minimized. In addition, pomegranate juice drinkers were less likely to be hospitalized due to infections.

 “The benefit may be due to the high levels of polyphenols. It has more than red wine,” said lead investigator Batya Kristal, MD, Professor of Medicine at Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, where she is chair of nephrology and hypertension. Pomegranate juice drinkers experienced more than a 36% reduction in the hospitalization rate for cardiovascular events and a 40% reduction in infection-related hospitalizations.

The researchers say these current findings may be clinical significant because most kidney disease patients die from either cardiovascular-related causes or infections. 

“We found 12-month consumption of pomegranate juice has a continuous, accumulative beneficial effect,” Dr. Kristal said. “No side effects were reported during the study period.

Clinicians and patients need to consider the risk involved in potassium overload, especially in CKD patients with dietary potassium restriction, she noted.