This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Blood pressure tends to creep up as we get older until it seems like drugs are the only solution. That’s why you may be excited to learn that pomegranate acts like a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure.
Pomegranate has the same action as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. These drugs (such as Accupril and Vasotec) help lower blood pressure by blocking an enzyme in the body that is responsible for causing the blood vessels to narrow. If the blood vessels are relaxed, your blood pressure is lowered and more oxygen-rich blood can reach your heart. ACE inhibitors also lower the amount of salt and water in your body, which helps to lower your blood pressure.
In a study by Israeli researchers, pomegranate juice reduced the serum activity of ACE by approximately 36 percent. The same researchers found that people with high blood pressure who drank about 2 ounces of pomegranate juice a day for a year reduced their systolic blood pressure by 5 percent to 21 percent.
Other research on pomegranate has shown that it really can protect your heart and blood vessels. It can maintain blood flow to your heart even when you are under stress, reduce thickening of the carotid arteries in the neck and even improve erectile function. (No wonder the pomegranate is considered the fruit of love in many traditions!)
In these studies, 2-8 ounces a day of juice were consumed. At 20 calories an ounce, I think it’s worth every drop.
Pomegranate juice is a great addition to a blood-pressure-lowering DASH diet, and it may help you avoid ever having to take drugs. It offers the same benefits as the drug, plus lots more!
If you’re already taking an ACE inhibitor, you should talk to your doctor about making a switch to pomegranate juice. But if you’re counting calories, you may want to consider using a pomegranate extract. It has concentrated amounts of the same heart-protective polyphenols found in the juice.
 Aviram M et al. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis. 2001;158:195-8.
 Aviram M et al. Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation. Clin Nutr. 2004;23:423-33.