More than 4.5 million adults in the United States have kidney disease, also known as renal disease.  In just ten years, the number of end-stage renal patients on dialysis increased by 100,000.  As the number of dialysis patients increases, so do the rates of renal-related infection, hospitalization and other negative effects of the treatment.

The American Society of Nephrology (ASN) is an organization that researches and educates others about kidney disease.  During the week of November 16th at the ASN’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in Denver, Colorado, Israeli researchers presented study results that pomegranate juice “has a continuous, accumulative, beneficial effect for dialysis patients.” Dialysis patients, who already suffer from numerous harsh side effects of treatment, may be able to lessen some of the physical woes of dialysis by drinking a glass of juice.  High in vitamin C and antioxidants, the study could be yet another benefit of the pomegranate (in addition to the previously discussed skin health benefits).

Over 100 dialysis patients consumed either pomegranate juice or a placebo at the start of each dialysis session, three times per week, over the course of one year.  Led by Dr. Batya Kristal, the researchers found beneficial properties of pomegranate juice for dialysis patients that led to reduced inflammation, oxidative stress and blood pressure, and improved lipid profile.  Researchers also found a decreased likelihood for hospitalization as a result of infection.  Three months after consumption of the pomegranate juice, improved health status in study participants was no longer present- suggesting that continued consumption is necessary in order to see lasting benefits.

Due to the high potassium content of pomegranate, Kristal suggests that “habitual pomegranate juice intake be monitored by a dietitian and a nephrologist.” In light of the expected increase in chronic kidney disease and the potential effect of pomegranate juice on the reduction of morbidity and mortality rates of hemodialysis patients, Dr. Kristal suggests that further research be conducted.