Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Does pomegranate juice interfere with medications?

Q. Pomegranate juice is supposed to be a health food, but I've heard that it can interfere with some medications, the way grapefruit juice can. I take Lipitor and wonder if I should be concerned.

A. Pomegranate juice has stepped into the nutrition limelight as a rich source of antioxidants, which are thought to have many healthful effects, including a reduced risk for heart disease, macular degeneration, and certain cancers. Antioxidants are important because they counteract free radicals, which are harmful, unstable molecules that arise during normal energy metabolism and in response to certain environmental factors. Some antioxidants are made by the body, and others are found in food.

Pomegranate juice contains polyphenols, tannins, and anthocyanins — all of which have antioxidant properties. Some small studies have suggested that pomegranate juice or its extracts can lower blood pressure, reduce oxidation that causes LDL ("bad") cholesterol to stick to artery walls, and help counter the narrowing of carotid arteries in the neck. One study in heart disease patients suggested that a daily cup of pomegranate juice could help improve blood flow through the arteries that nourish the heart muscle. Some research also suggests that pomegranate juice helps prevent some cancers.

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