Pomegranate: superfood or fad?

Pomegranate: superfood or fad?
Pomegranate: superfood or fad?

Pomegranate and its distinctive ruby-red jewel-like seeds have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years.

The Middle Eastern fruit is claimed to be effective against heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation and some cancers, including prostate cancer.

Pomegranate is a good source of fibre. It also contains vitamins A, C and E, iron and other antioxidants (notably tannins).

We’ve teamed up with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to examine whether the health claims made about the fruit are supported by the evidence.

The evidence on pomegranates

Can pomegranate strengthen bones?

2013 study found evidence that pomegranate strengthened bones and helped prevent osteoporosis. The catch was the study involved mice, not humans.

While the biology of mice and humans are surprisingly similar, we can never be sure that these results will be applicable to us.

Does pomegranate juice slow prostate cancer progress?

One small study from 2006 found that drinking a daily 227ml (8oz) glass of pomegranate juice significantly slowed the progress of prostate cancer in men with recurring prostate cancer. This was a well-conducted study, but more are needed to support these findings.

more recent study from 2013 looked at whether giving men pomegranate extract tablets prior to surgery to remove cancerous tissue from the prostate would reduce the amount of tissue that needed to be removed. The results were not statistically significant, meaning they could have been down to chance.

Can pomegranate reduce carotid artery stenosis?

A good-quality study from 2004 on patients with carotid artery stenosis (narrowed arteries) found that a daily 50ml (1.7oz) glass of pomegranate juice over three years reduced the damage caused by cholesterol in the artery by almost half, and also cut cholesterol build-up. However, these effects are not clearly understood and the study did not say what the results mean for conditions such as stroke.

Is heart disease prevented by pomegranates?

A well-conducted trial from 2005 on 45 patients with coronary heart disease demonstrated that a daily 238ml (8.4oz) glass of pomegranate juice administered over three months resulted in improved blood flow to the heart and a lower risk of heart attack. The study did not say what the results mean for conditions such as heart attacks, and with such a small trial the positive results reported could be down to chance.

The dietitian’s verdict on pomegranates

Alison Hornby, a dietitian and BDA spokesperson, says the evidence around the health benefits of pomegranates are inconclusive.

She says: “Research suggests there may be a benefit, but we’ve not shown it yet. The studies that have found an improvement in existing health conditions were very small and more investigation into the role pomegranate plays in these improvements is needed.

“A 150ml glass of pomegranate juice counts as one of your 5 A Day. Make sure to avoid brands with added sugar. You could also add pomegranate seeds to cold dishes and salads. It’s a healthy and appetising way to increase the nutritional value of your meal.”

Dietitians Week – so what actually is in a Dietitian’s Fridge? Sort out the truth from myths when it comes to diet!


Dietitians Week
Dietitians Week

Dietitians Week is organised every year by the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and profiles to work and value of dietitians. Founded in 1936, the BDA is the professional association for registered dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals with over 8,000 members.

Jennifer Bazely, Clinical Dietetic Team Leader for Leicester’s Hospitals, told us : “We play a valuable role in patient care at Leicester’s Hospitals and we want to use the awareness week to celebrate! As a team we will be encouraging clinical colleagues to get involved in Dietitians Week and tell us why they value their dedicated Dietitian. We will be taking photos throughout the week using ‘I value our Dietitian because…’ signs and sharing them on social media.”


Dr Fiona McCullough, BDA Chairman-elect, said: “Following on from the tremendous success of last year’s Dietitians Week, I am extremely thrilled and delighted that we are doing it all over again in 2015. Once again, this will be an exciting and unique way in which to highlight the value and impact of the dietetic profession all around the UK.

“You only have to look online, switch on the television or pick up a newspaper to see just how many people out there are claiming to be food and nutrition experts. The nutrition ‘noise’ that surrounds us is so loud, with mixed food and nutrition messaging, ranging from the indifferent, to ridiculous, to the downright dangerous. Dietitians Week is the perfect opportunity for us to shout loud and proud about our work, and the work of the wider profession, and lay claim to the accolade of being the absolute “Gold Standard” when it comes to food and nutrition professionals.”

Follow @UHL_DIETITIANS on Twitter to find out ‘What’s in a Dietitian’s Fridge’ throughout the week! A full list of Dietitians Week events can be found at www.DietitiansWeek.com.