The Latest Health-Boosting Juices

Are the latest health-boosting juices pomegranate, noni, wolfberry and elderberry right for you?

| March/April 2006

Learn about the latest health-boosting juices, a fast and nutritious method to include fruit in your diet.

Does the inside of your fridge resemble a psychedelic rainbow these days—with bottles of ruby, amethyst, tangerine and chartreuse juices? We love our fruit juices—those seemingly perfect solutions for the overly busy but nutritiously alert. Just uncap and pour health, flavor and convenience. But while some health-boosting juices may deserve a place in your fridge, not all are the liquid manna we seek.

Pomegranate for Healthy Arteries

Among the celebrated new juices, pomegranate boasts some respectable credentials. The whole fruit of Punica granatum was a staple among desert nomads of the Middle East for centuries—who counted upon it to travel well and deliver a refreshing pickup. The juice, derived from pomegranate’s soft seeds and red pulp, is a modestly good source of potassium (about 430 mg in an 8-ounce glass). But its real value may be in combating cardiovascular disease and other health problems. A darling among researchers, pomegranate is the focus of many clinical studies that buzz with praise.

Pomegranate juice reduces cholesterol buildup on artery walls. In coronary patients with restricted blood flow to the heart, a daily cup of the juice for three months significantly improved circulation, based on a double-blind study published in the American Journal of Cardiology. And a small study in Clinical Nutrition says drinking the juice for a year induced a 30 percent reduction in clogging of the carotid artery, which shuttles blood to the brain and can cause a stroke if blocked. These patients also had a 21 percent drop in systolic blood pressure.

The cholesterol-lowering action of pomegranate may come from antioxidant polyphenols called ellagitannins. But how they work is a subject of debate. They may directly prevent LDL cholesterol from degrading to its artery-clogging oxidized form, or they may be converted by colonic bacteria into metabolites whose protective actions are not yet fully understood.

Preliminary test-tube research also suggests anti-cancer activity and cartilage-preserving benefits from the juice or other fruit extracts. The juice acts against prostate cancer tumors, and fruit extracts fight breast cancer cells and lessen bone cartilage decay in osteoarthritis. Clinical results with humans are not yet available.

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