Can drinking pomegranate juice help lower my cholesterol?

Answers from Brent A. Bauer, M.D.

Small studies seem to suggest that drinking pomegranate juice might lower cholesterol. It's also thought that pomegranate juice may block or slow the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries of people who are at higher risk of heart disease.

Like many fruit juices, pomegranate juice contains antioxidants, especially polyphenols. What's more, pomegranate juice contains antioxidants at higher levels than do many other fruit juices. Antioxidants are thought to provide several heart-protecting benefits, including reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol.

Pomegranate juice is generally safe to drink if certain facts are first considered. If you choose to drink pomegranate juice, check the label to be sure that you're drinking pure pomegranate juice, and not a mixture of juices that contains added sugar. The sugar adds more calories to the juice, which reduces its heart-health benefits.

As you should do with any herbal or dietary supplement, talk to your doctor about pomegranate juice before you start drinking it regularly as a supplement. Pomegranate juice may cause dangerous side effects when it interacts with certain prescription medications, such as the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, including captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec) and lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril).

Nov. 27, 2014 See more Expert Answers