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Is Pomegranate Juice That Wonderful?

Food companies (such as POM Wonderful) invoke the First Amendment to defend false and unsubstantiated health claims.

December 1, 2011 |
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Last year the Federal Trade Commission charged top corporate executives at pomegranate juice maker POM wonderful for making false and unsubstantiated health claims. For example, POM ads say that their juice can result in a significant reduction of IMT, intima media thickness—the thickness of arterial plaque.” They even cite research. Let's check it out: Effects of Consumption of Pomegranate Juice on Carotid Intima–Media Thickness in Men and Women at Moderate Risk for Coronary Heart Disease.
What did it find? “No significant difference in overall CIMT progression rate was observed between pomegranate juice and control treatments.” And not only that, it was their study; they funded it. If you’re going to pay for a study, at least have the decency to falsify the data instead of just lying about the results. POM responded to the complaint claiming the Federal Trade Commission lacks the authority to tell them what they can or cannot lie about under the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
When this defense was raised earlier this year in the journal Public Health Nutrition, Marian Nestle and a colleague responded “it seems obvious to us that this interpretation of the First Amendment neither follows its original intent, nor promotes the public interest. The founding fathers clearly intended the First Amendment to guarantee the right of individuals to speak freely about religious and political matters, not the right of food companies to market junk foods to children and adults.” I wouldn’t consider pomegranate juice junk, but I do consider lying about their own research junk science.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on juice (including Best fruit juice).

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Alzheimer's Disease: Up to half of cases potentially preventable and The Science of Acai Berries

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. Be sure to check out all the videos on juice (including Best fruit juice), and don’t miss Tuesday’s corresponding blog post Alzheimer’s Disease: Up to half of cases potentially preventable with lifestyle changes.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/paul3917/ paul3917

    There must be more to the story than that. In a previous pilot study, the one in ’04 that you have a partial screen shot of in this video at 17 seconds, pomegranate juice was found to reduce carotid artery media thickness in patients with severe stenosis by up to 30% in just one year. Blood pressure was also reduced. One difference seems to be that in the present study the patients had “moderate risk for heart disease.” See
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15158307
    http://www.pomwonderful.de/pdf/clinical_nutrition.pdf
    Even this study suggested that the patients may have slowed the progression of the disease. I wouldn’t write of pomegranate juice just yet.

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

      Pomegranate juice no doubt has health benefits, as pomegranates are high in antioxidants, but Dr. Greger is making the statement that they do not do what the company advertises it does. Eating pomegranate is going to be far more beneficial than juicing it though!
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/fruit-juice-fail/

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/beforewisdom/ beforewisdom

    I had a friend from Iran. He told me that pomegranates were like apples there. Nobody experiencing any magical health benefits there.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/beforewisdom/ beforewisdom

    Thanks Dr. Greger. Pomegranate juice is $4 a bottle in my area and the whole fruit is obscenely overpriced as well. It is to know there is no special reason to buy those things.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Alzheimer’s Disease: Up to half of cases potentially preventable!

  • redzero

    So what was the final ruling/outcome?  Did they get away with lying?   What blows my mind is that the FTC is going after a juice company instead of the dairy/meat/refined-sugar industries… maybe they are… I hope so.  “Milk does a body good.” should be “Milk makes life short.”

  • Melissa

    Dr. Gregor, Are there any known studies that prove the benefit of pomegranates? I know Dr. Fuhrman touts their advantages, and I imagine he bases his recommendations on more than just one study. Thank you for your great work. Gratefully,

    • Lisa M

      I used to receive a different health subscription, but I got locked out of the email account, so I have not been able to find it since getting a new email account. Anyways, in THAT health journal they quoted a VERY small study from Sweden, or Switzerland…??? That stated a very small amount of Pomegranate juice everyday, I believe it was 4 ounces, lowered cholesterol by up to 20-30%. I can not take Lipitor, Crestor… due to the random muscle weakness it causes in some people. Mine was permanent unfortunately. I haven’t tried niacin because I do not want the hot flashes (that I’m just finishing due to menopause). My hand to God, I had my cholesterol checked recently and I SWEAR it went down by 20%. My doctor said how great the niacin was working. I swear I was in shock, because ALL I did was drink a little pomegranate juice everyday!!! I literally laughed out loud and told my doctor how I did it, with the juice. He didn’t seem pleased, in fact annoyed more than glad then, and insisted I ‘need’ to use niacin too. My opinion, no way in hell!! I have also added dried apples recently after reading Dr Greger’s chart on anti-oxidants in dried fruit. I also drink a gross kale and blueberries/strawberries shake every day. Only wish I started eating healthy 30 yrs ago, like my 18 yr old is doing!! I hope this helps, I am being totally honest, have no financial interest in the pomegranate market ;)

  • Gadea

    POM juice always made me very ill.
    I tried very hard to incorporate POM juice into my diet.
    But regardless of how little I drank, it made me sick to my stomach.
    It was very expensive, but I had to through it out.

  • Iggy Dalrymple

    Pomegranate is reputed to be an alternative remedy for prostate problems, including prostate cancer. My urologist also recommended I take it. Since I have prostate cancer, I take LycoPom pills and sometimes drink a hot beverage made from pomegranate juice powder mixed with matcha green tea powder, sweetened with stevia. So far, so good. My cancer seems to be very slow growing, if growing at all.

    • Thea

      Iggy: I’m sorry to hear you have cancer, but happy to hear it is slow growing. The rate of growth can make all the difference in the world.

      You might consider doing a search on this site/NutritionFacts for more videos regarding cancer in general and prostate cancer in particular. It’s a lot of information, but you can do lots of things to fine-tune your diet with the idea of making that cancer as slow growing as possible or even maybe shrinking it.

      Good luck.

  • barbarabrussels

    Wish I were shocked, but I’m not. Of course, the less shocked we become, the easier it becomes to lie to the public.

  • Margreen

    That is a very unfortunate use of that image of a noose. It is extremely offensive to the black community, as it stands for lynching.

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      Go write a letter to POM :)

      The noose has been a favorite tool for minions during more than just the black pages of american history.

      Stands for non-appealable arbitrary justice if anything.
      And be assured the entire globe has had its taste.

    • bigbird2071

      Oh, everything either offends the black community or is racist. Everyone and everything is not out to always get the blacks. Get some thicker skin!

    • laguna

      It stands for ‘hanging’. You must be a pc geek.