Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) upheld an Administrative Law Judge’s decision from May 2012, that the marketers of POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice and supplements used deceptive advertising to market their products: The company did not have adequate support for claims that the products could treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction, and that they were clinically proven to work.
POM is upset, and plans to sue the FTC. The company has spent $35 million in research to prove that the antioxidants in pomegranates have superpowers, according to the health section of POM’s website. Here’s a link to the research. The money was spent at universities that ran clinical studies that showed that people who consumed daily doses of pomegranate juice got better in certain health parameters.
What you need to know:
Here’s the thing: a similar study can be conducted on any fruit – strawberry, blueberry, apple, etc… and yield wonderful results. But if a company wants to claim it cures diseases with a food, its research must be scrutinized similarly to that of drugs. POM does not pass such scrutiny.
To POM’s credit, their juice is 100% pomegranate, with nothing else added. But the nutrition facts panel reveals much more sugar than you would think, 34 grams per serving. That’s 8 teaspoons worth!
Wait, it gets better, because each time you drink POM, you are guzzling down 2 servings! That’s because the most popular bottle of POM (pictured above) actually contains two 8 oz servings.
With each POM bottle you drink, you’re ingesting 17 teaspoons of sugar and 320 calories!
Unlike eating a real fruit, there is no fiber in POM Wonderful juice. It has zero vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and iron too.
The main advantage of a pomegranate juice is not having to deal with the pomegranate, a messy affair by all counts: Peeling the rind, removing the albedo (white membrane), and separating the hundreds of arils (those juicy sacs with the seed inside) is quite a chore, not to mention the juice stains on your blouse and tablecloth. A real pomegranate has 38 grams of sugar (vs 34), but 11 grams of fiber (vs zero), and 48% of the daily value of vitamin C (vs zero).
What to do at the supermarket:
We should thank POM for bringing pomegranates to our attention. They are a lovely fruit, and do provide vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. Other fruits have more of some nutrients, less of others. All fruits and vegetables are good for us.
Fruit Juice is a different story. It loses much of the nutritional potency of the original fruit, especially the fiber. What it does gain is a very concentrated dose of sugar.
So, if you are looking for a superdrink to consume regularly – go for tap water. As an occasional treat, virtually any juice is fine, but then again so are soft drinks. If you like POM’s sweet+tart flavor combo, as we do, by all means enjoy.
Just don’t let excellent marketing confuse you into thinking you’re going to cheat death.