Pomegranate tea, also known as POM tea, is a type of tea made from pomegranate fruit. It has become increasingly popular in recent years due to purported health benefits. But is POM tea actually good for you? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
What is POM Tea?
POM tea is made by infusing pomegranate fruit, typically the arils (the red pulp surrounding the seeds), in hot water. It results in a tart, ruby-red beverage. Sometimes the tea is sweetened with honey or sugar. It can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
In addition to the arils, some POM tea blends contain dried pomegranate leaves and flowers. The leaves add a fresh, grassy flavor while the flowers provide a sweet, perfumed aroma.
Store-bought POM tea bags usually contain both arils and leaves. Loose leaf blends also commonly include hibiscus, rose hips, citrus fruits, and spices like cinnamon and cardamom.
Nutrition Profile of Pomegranates
Pomegranates are loaded with beneficial plant compounds, including:
- Punicalagins: Extremely potent antioxidants found in pomegranate juice and peel. They’re responsible for over 50% of the juice’s antioxidant activity.
- Anthocyanins: Pigments that give pomegranates their vibrant red color. They’re powerful antioxidants that give pomegranates and other red/purple fruits and veggies their protective effects.
- Ellagitannins: Compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Some turn into compounds called urolithins in your gut, which may protect against prostate cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.
- Vitamin C: A potent antioxidant necessary for immune function, iron absorption, and collagen synthesis. A cup (150 ml) of pomegranate arils provides 12% of the Daily Value (DV).
Pomegranates also contain small amounts of folate, potassium, and vitamin K.
While the arils are the most nutrient-dense part of the fruit, other parts like the peel and leaves still retain a significant number of protective compounds.
Potential Health Benefits of POM Tea
Research suggests that pomegranates and pomegranate-based products like POM tea may offer several health benefits, including:
Rich in antioxidants
Pomegranates contain higher levels of antioxidants than most fruits. Their potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions are thought to play a role in reducing cellular damage in your body.
Test-tube and animal studies demonstrate protective effects against cancer, premature aging, heart disease, arthritis, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. That said, human studies are limited.
May improve heart health
Several studies reveal that pomegranate juice and extract lower blood pressure levels, enhance blood flow, and improve cholesterol profiles — all major risk factors for heart disease.
What’s more, animal studies demonstrate significantly reduced heart cell damage and improved heart function following a heart attack.
May combat prostate cancer
Preliminary evidence suggests that pomegranate extracts inhibit the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells.
In one study, men who had already undergone prostate surgery drank 8 ounces (250 ml) of pomegranate juice daily. After 2 years, their PSA levels were significantly lower, suggesting reduced cancer growth.
May improve arthritis symptoms
Some research indicates that pomegranate seed oil and pomegranate extract may reduce inflammatory activity in your body that contributes to the destruction of cartilage in your joints. This may help improve arthritis symptoms.
That said, human research is limited to small studies. More evidence is needed.
May protect your brain
Animal and test-tube studies suggest that pomegranate may shield your brain from neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s. However, human research is lacking.
May have antibacterial and antiviral effects
Pomegranates have been shown to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria and viruses in test-tube studies. However, it’s unknown whether these effects would also occur in the human body.
Other Potential Benefits Being Studied
Pomegranates are being investigated for their potential to help:
- Reduce joint pain
- Protect from sun damage
- Improve muscular strength
- Improve exercise performance
- Improve memory
- Lower risk of preterm birth
That said, more research in humans is needed.
POM Tea vs. Pomegranate Juice
There are some key differences between pomegranate tea and pomegranate juice:
|Pomegranate Tea||Pomegranate Juice|
|Typically contains some pulp/arils but not as much as juice||Contains 100% extracted pomegranate juice|
|Often infused with leaves, herbs, and spices||Pure juice, sometimes blended with other fruit juices|
|Lower in calories and sugar than juice||Higher in calories and natural sugar than tea|
|Contains antioxidants from whole fruit including peel||Higher overall antioxidant content from juice only|
|More mellow flavor||Intense, concentrated flavor|
|Typically minimal preparation needed||Requires juicing the arils|
|Can be steeped in hot water for a few minutes||Not technically a “tea”|
While pomegranate juice packs a more concentrated nutritional punch, POM tea still retains decent antioxidant activity with a pleasant flavor profile.
How to Make POM Tea at Home
It’s easy to make homemade POM tea using just a few ingredients:
Basic POM Tea
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45 grams) fresh pomegranate arils
- 2 cups (500 ml) boiling water
- Honey or lemon to taste (optional)
- Deseed a whole pomegranate and separate the arils.
- Place arils in a tea cup or teapot.
- Pour boiling water over the arils.
- Let steep for 5-10 minutes.
- Strain the solids out if desired and stir in honey or lemon to taste.
Fancy POM Tea Latte
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) pomegranate arils
- 1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of allspice
- Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
- Heat in a small saucepan over medium heat until steaming but not boiling.
- Pour into a mug and top with extra cinnamon.
Potential Downsides of POM Tea
POM tea is likely safe for most people when consumed in normal food amounts. However, there are a few downsides to consider:
May interact with medications
Pomegranates contain a high level of compounds called tannins that may bind with some drugs like antibiotics and statins, reducing their absorption and effectiveness.
If you take any medications, check with your healthcare provider before drinking POM tea daily.
The natural sugar in pomegranates is fructose. While small amounts are not a problem, excess fructose consumption has been linked to a higher risk of metabolic disorders.
Those with diabetes or on a low-sugar diet should moderate their intake of POM tea and opt for low-sugar preparations.
Some people may experience an allergic reaction to pomegranates that can cause symptoms like itching, hives, swelling, and breathing difficulties.
Discontinue use if any adverse symptoms develop.
Should You Drink POM Tea?
POM tea is a tart, antioxidant-rich beverage that provides the benefits of whole pomegranates in each sip.
It makes a hydrating, low-calorie alternative to juice and packs in protective compounds from the fruit peel, leaves, and arils.
Moderate, occasional intake is likely safe for most people. Those taking medications or following a low-sugar diet may want to limit their consumption.
While more research is needed, POM tea appears to be a nutritious beverage option that may help protect your body from disease.
The Bottom Line
POM tea is made from infusing pomegranate fruit, which is one of the richest natural sources of antioxidants. It provides hydration along with an array of protective plant compounds.
Preliminary research suggests pomegranates and POM tea may help reduce heart disease risk, prostate cancer growth, arthritis symptoms, and neurological disease. However, larger human studies are needed.
Enjoying POM tea in moderation is likely safe for most people and makes for a flavorful, antioxidant-rich addition to your diet.