The study suggests that 12 months consumption of pomegranate juice “has a continuous, accumulative, beneficial effect for dialysis patients.”
The researchers found that pomegranate juice consumption yields a lower level of oxidative stress, reduced inflammation, an improvement in lipid profile, and reductions in blood pressure.
“The aimof the present study was to investigate the effect of pomegranate juice consumption, on oxidative stress, inflammation and incidence of infections after one year of intervention,” stated the researchers, led by Dr Batya Kristal from the Western Galilee Hospital in Israel.
The research was presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in Denver, CO, and was supported by the Chief Scientist Office of the Ministry of Health, Israel, the Jess & Mildred Fisher Family Cardiology Research Fund, and the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research, Technion, Israel.
The authors noted that recent studies have claimed pomegranate juice to have multiple health benefits, including being a rich source of antioxidants, and lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure – especially in diabetic and hypertensive patients.
Researchers reported that patients on dialysis, in addition to their renal disease, also suffer from increased risks of diabetes (over 50 percent increased risk), hypertension (over 80 percent risk increase), and cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, they noted that patients are exposed to high levels of oxidative stress.
Among dialysis patients, vitamin E is a well documented to reduce cardiovascular events, and other polyphenols are known to reduce lipid oxidation and oxidative stress.
Pomegranate juice is known for its strong antioxidant activity. The antioxidant capacity of pomegranate juice is due to its high concentration of anthocyanins and hydrolysable tannins, including both allegic, and gallagic acids, and the poniculagenim – which originate from the peels of pomegranate and contribute up to 50 percent of its antioxidant activity.
Dr Kristal and colleagues studied 101 dialysis patients who received either pomegranate juice or another placebo drink at the beginning of each dialysis session, three times a week for one year in order to asses whether the antioxidant rich pomegranate juice could benefit kidney dialysis patients.
The researchers reported that patients who drank pomegranate juice experienced reduced inflammation, and damage from oxidative stress induced free radicals was minimized.
Furthermore, pomegranate juice drinkers were found to be less likely to be hospitalized due to infections, with a 40 percent reduction in first hospitalization events, and over an 80 percent decrease in secondary hospitalizations.
The authors also noted that further analysis of secondary outcome data revealed that those who drank pomegranate juice also showed an improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, such as reduced blood pressure, improvement in lipid profile and fewer cardiovascular events – suggesting that they had better heart health
The researchers observed intake of pomegranate juice to have a “continuous, accumulative beneficial effect throughout the 12 months study period.”
However, in a follow up clinical evaluation three months post intervention, when pomegranate juice was not supplied to patients, there was a clear indication “that there was no longer any positive effect remaining from the twelve months of pomegranate juice intake,” said Kristal
The authors noted that their findings support other studies which suggest pomegranate juice to have “potent antioxidant properties”.
“It apparent, that pomegranate juice consumption may have a beneficial effect on the above relation, and as such favor a reduction in the morbidity and mortality of hemodialysis patients,” stated Dr Kristal and colleagues.
However, they added that because pomegranate juice contained relatively high levels of potassium, and potassium overload is considered an important risk, especially for chronic kidney disease patients with dietary potassium restriction.
“Considering the expected epidemic of chronic kidney disease in the next decade, further clinical trials using pomegranate juice aimed at reducing the high cardiovascular morbidity of chronic kidney disease patients and their deterioration to end-stage renal disease should be conducted,” said Dr. Kristal.
Dr. Kristal stated that because of this risk, it is recommended that habitual pomegranate juice intake should be monitored by a dietitian and a nephrologist.
She added that on-going consumption of pomegranate juice “may well lead to improved quality of life by reducing the high illness rate among dialysis patients”, however, further studies are still needed.