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Pomegranate Juice Benefits Kidney Dialysis Patients


Kidney dialysis patients are at increased risk for infections and cardiovascular conditions, and are also exposed to high levels of oxidative stress. One way to reduce these complications may be to enjoy a glass of pomegranate juice each day.

Pomegranate juice provides multiple health benefits

In recent years, pomegranates have become a much-researched food, with scientists finding evidence that the fruit’s high antioxidant activity, due to its high concentration of anthocyanins and hydrolysable tannins, provides various health benefits. The antioxidants, for example, help fight oxidative stress, a condition in which antioxidant levels are low, thus facilitating cell damage by free radicals.

One recent study, for example, found that pomegranate juice could improve endothelial function in adolescents who have metabolic syndrome. Several other studies have noted that consumption of pomegranate juice may help in the fights against prostate and breast cancers, as well as reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Results of the latest study, which were presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition, reported that pomegranate juice consumption can lower oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, improve lipid profiles, and bring down blood pressure. Kidney dialysis patients are at especial risk for these complications.

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Dr. Batya Kristal from the Western Galilee Hospital in Israel and colleagues set out to “identify the effect of pomegranate juice consumption on oxidative stress, inflammation and incidence of infections after one year of intervention in individuals on kidney dialysis." The authors studied 101 patients who consumed either pomegranate juice or a placebo drink at the beginning of each dialysis session, three times weekly for one year.

After one year, the researchers reported that patients who drank pomegranate juice had reduced inflammation and less damage from oxidative stress. They also were less likely to be hospitalized because of infections, with a 40 percent reduction in those requiring a first hospitalization and a greater than 80 percent reduction in secondary hospitalizations.

Cardiovascular risk factors also improved in patients who drank the pomegranate juice, including lower blood pressure, improved lipid profiles, and fewer cardiovascular events. All of these findings led the authors to note that daily intake of pomegranate juice for 12 months “has a continuous, accumulative, beneficial effect for dialysis patients.”

That beneficial effect seems to fade, however, some months after patients stop drinking the juice. A three-month follow-up intervention found clear indications that the benefits achieved during the previous year had dissipated.

Dr. Kristal noted that daily consumption of pomegranate juice by people with kidney disease should be monitored by a nephrologist or dietitian because of the juice’s high potassium content. She also pointed out that “considering the expected epidemic of chronic kidney disease in the next decade,” use of pomegranate juice “may well lead to improved quality of life by reducing the high illness rate among dialysis patients.”

American Society of Nephrology