07 August 2009

Let's Review: Pomegranate Juice

A month or so ago, I got an email from someone at Pom Wonderful, wondering if I'd like to try a case of their pomegranate juice. Sure, why not? I'd been vaguely curious about their product ever since a 2008 New Yorker profile of Lynda Resnick, the owner of the company, which focused on her creation of the pomegranate juice market beginning in 2002.

A box of eight cute little 8-ounce bottles showed up, packed on ice because it's fresh juice and needs to be refrigerated. I cracked one open and winced. Man, that stuff is astringent - to the point that it makes your tongue all weird. And it's awfully high in calories - 8 ounces has 160 calories - in contrast, a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola has only 140 calories. Ounce for ounce, the pomegranate juice has 71% more calories than Coke.

The box came with some promotional material about the "health benefits" of pomegranate juice, but because I'm a natural skeptic, I figured I should poke around a little and see what other people had to say.

Consumer Reports does say that "there's some preliminary human evidence that pomegranate juice may yield tangible health benefits. In a small clinical trial published last year in the journal Clinical Nutrition, for example, drinking a glass of pomegranate juice each day for one year reduced blood pressure, decreased the oxidation that causes “bad” LDL cholesterol to stick to artery walls, and reduced clogging of arteries in the neck (a risk factor for stroke)."

However, and also according to Consumer Reports, "pomegranate juice may offer some health benefits, but it can also interact with some medications, including ACE inhibitors and antihypertensive drugs".

Pom Wonderful claims to be the "antioxidant superpower". But what does that mean? What's the point of antioxidants anyway?

According to the Times, there is "no evidence that [antioxidant supplements] prolong life, and strong evidence that they might shorten it." Furthermore, Barry Popkin, quoted elsewhere in the Times, says that "drinking a glass of fruit juice a day...has been linked...to increased calorie intake and higher risks of diabetes and heart disease".

I think the Pom Wonderful people are selling a bill of goods. It's not great juice, it's high in calories, and its health benefits are dubious.

I'm too cheap to throw the stuff away, so I've been slipping it in my morning smoothies: one banana, a half cup of plain yogurt, and 4 ounces of the pomegranate juice. It comes out a nice shade of pink, but even banana and yogurt don't mask the astringency. I also have been making pink lemonade by adding a couple of tablespoons to a half gallon of plain lemonade, and some of the pomegranate juice made its way into my eggplant caponata.

But will I be buying it any time soon? Nope.

Disclosure: The pomegranate juice was provided to me by the manufacturer, at no cost to me. And they did not pay me for this review.


YourFireAnt said...

I don't get pomegranate juice. You get NONE of the fun of eating actual pomegranates, and your fingers and the front of your white blouse are still the same afterwards.


Aurelia said...

See-- I love it. Especially mixed with vodka and poured over some ice.


Anyway, it takes slightly better when mixed with another juice, but you can still mix it with whatever foods. I do actually believe the health benefits because it's ground up with the seeds in it, and that's supposed to be better than just juice. Dunno?

Use it to make sangria too.

Anonymous said...

It's expensive & I don't love it, although I did enjoy a pomegranate-blueberry blend we bought one time, perhaps by mistake?

abby said...

alone, I agree: too makes-my-mouth-all-puckery-and-weird. kinda like it in juice blends.

but my big thing now is that there are no ingredients in my juice but juice. no sugar, no acid of any sort, no nothin'.

is Pom just juice? you said it comes fresh and packed on ice, but do they add anything to it?

Kyla said...

We had blueberry pomegranate juice and vodka this weekend while playing dominoes. It was not nearly as tasty as the orange, banana, pinapple juice and Malibu rum, though! ;)

Cynthia said...

Good to know;) I think it's crazy expensive as well...I hadn't done my homework on the pros and cons.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It makes a good mixer though.

alejna said...

I have to say, I love pomegranates, and have enjoyed the Pom juice when I've had it. The astringency doesn't bother me, for whatever reason. I guess I tend to like super-tart fruits.

I draw the line at chugging unsweetened cranberry juice, though.

meno said...

Love the disclaimer. I BET they didn't pay you for this review.

Inna said...

I like mixing it with sparkling water. 1/4 juice, 3/4 water. It works really well and looses the tanginess the juice has.
But by itself, its awful.

The Library Lady said...

Yup, they won't be paying you for this review. And good for you for telling it like it is.

I haven't tried pom juice yet. But any time someone starts touting ANYTHING as a wonder cure, I begin to roll my eyes.

Save for garlic, of course, out of respect for my spouse :D

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Huge fan of the actual pomegranate and pomegranate-flavoured things, but the juice is too much for me. Maybe mixed with seltzer?

Then again, not sure I truly need pomegranate in juice form in my life if it's what I'm imagining from the post.

the mama bird diaries said...

The pomegranate juice lobby must be very powerful.

MadMad said...

Oh, YAY! Now there's one less fruit to feel guilty about not eating/being able to get my kids to eat! Thank you!

KC said...

Kudos to you for publishing a honest review and for the disclaimer. THAT is what it is all about.

Cold Spaghetti said...

We drank uh-mazing pomegranate margaritas at the beach based on a recipe from Southern Living. Definitely worth keeping those lil' bottles around for... I'll try and dig it up and send it along.

Cold Spaghetti said...

Found it!


Rachel said...

Honest review - I love it!

I reviewed their iced teas, not knowing how full of sugar they would be, because they said something about "low calorie". As someone with diabetes, NOT COOL. Unfortunately, it wasn't on my own site, so I had to be positive about the product even though I wasn't.