Grapefruit, A Dangerous Fruit?

A “Dangerous” Fruit? 

Remember the grapefruit as center stage in all things dieting back in the 70s and 80s?  Spoons with serrated tips even made it to the market to help us eat our ½ of a grapefruit each morning. Some diets claimed that grapefruit burned fat, boosted the metabolism and even suppressed our appetites, which is why they were the weight loss food when dieting started to become vogue. 

Do you know anyone who eats grapefruit today? As a child, I remember getting a giant box of grapefruit shipped to our house from Florida every December, a Christmas gift from my aunt. My mom would insist we eat one every day to fight the flu. Intuitively, she knew the medicinal power of grapefruits. Half of a grapefruit provides over 75% of our recommended daily intake of vitamin C, a micronutrient designed to strengthen and support our immune system. It also acts as a natural antihistamine, giving relief from allergies.

Supporting the immune system is only one of dozens of researched benefits of this fruit that has a perfectly designed combination of fiber, potassium, lycopene, vitamin C and choline. 

So why does my daughter know more about the Acai berry than the grapefruit? Why hasn’t she had a slice of grapefruit tossed into her Robek’s smoothie? Some of that is because my associations with grapefruit (starvation, having indulged in some of those weight loss strategies), but also because the grapefruit has been vilified as a “dangerous fruit,” and a food that many health professionals advise against eating. 

How could a fruit that positively influences blood lipid levels, especially triglycerides, and is high enough in potassium to help lower blood pressure suddenly have a DANGER sticker slapped on it? The short answer? Because it positively influences blood lipid levels and has a powerful effect on blood pressure. This powerful effect in our bodies can be contraindicated with many drugs on the market today, and drug companies make sure we understand the dangers of combining  grapefruit with these pharmaceuticals. Even I’m trained to steer patients on certain meds away from the grapefruit. 

Let’s just sit with the irony for a moment. A fruit that gives us nutrients exactly designed to support the management of degenerative disease such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders is the fruit that many cardiologists must warn their patients against eating. 

Since 1990, there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of studies focused on the negative interactions of grapefruit with pharmaceutical drugs. In one study, grapefruit is considered a “dangerous fruit juice” because it enhances the effects of an antiarrythmic drug. Another study highlights the “great concern in the hypotensive effect that grapefruit has on the body, lowering blood pressure rapidly in those patients. “No, you cannot eat grapefruit, which is a natural hypotensive because it interferes with your hypertensive medication.”

Oh, OK. 

When browsing the 139 studies on grapefruit in PubMed, almost all of them focused on its deleterious interaction with medication. 

How about some studies on how we can use the natural potency of the grapefruit to improve cardiovascular health? 

Who's going to fund a study that replaces a drug with fruit?   

I say, “Bring back the serrated spoon!” 

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