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How Is Grapefruit Related to Heart Disease?

by
author image Kathryn Gilhuly
Kathryn Gilhuly is a wellness coach based in San Diego. She helps doctors, nurses and other professionals implement lifestyle changes that focus on a healthy diet and exercise. Gilhuly holds a Master of Science in health, nutrition and exercise from North Dakota State University.
How Is Grapefruit Related to Heart Disease?
Consuming grapefruit may prove beneficial in preventing heart disease, but can prove deadly when combined with heart medications. Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Grapefruit relates to heart disease in two surprisingly opposing ways. Eating or drinking grapefruit reportedly aids in the prevention of heart disease. However, if you are taking heart medications to prevent heart disease, grapefruit can become a danger to your health.

Triglycerides Reductions

A 2006 study conducted by Shela Gorinstein of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem showed that consuming a grapefruit every day could lower your risk of developing heart disease. Ms. Gorinstein’s study consisted of 57 women and men who had high blood pressure. They ate a grapefruit daily and all experienced a reduction in their triglycerides, a form of cholesterol that can lead to heart disease. Those who ate red grapefruit experienced the most significant results; however, white grapefruits also proved to have had cholesterol-lowering abilities.

Lycopene

Consuming pink grapefruit may also shield you from heart disease because it contains lycopene, advises Jane Wilson, a British Dietetic Association nutritionist. Lycopene is an antioxidant and, according to Mayo Clinic, it is possible that it will prove helpful if you have high cholesterol or atherosclerosis, but there is not yet any solid proof of this claim. It is important to note that figuring whether the lycopene in pink grapefruits can help your heart shouldn’t be your top priority if you take heart medications. If you are taking heart medications, you should steer clear of grapefruit altogether, no matter how beneficial it may be to those not on any drugs.

Negative Reaction with Heart Medications

Nancy Chaytor, a Canadian nurse practitioner, warns that a “single glass of grapefruit juice can increase the level of a drug in your blood.” Chaytor cautions against consuming grapefruit if you are on any drugs relating to your heart. This is because grapefruit elevates the level of heart medications in your system by stopping your body from metabolizing heart medications. Because of this, you can end up with an extreme excess of heart medication in your system, making your dosage monumentally higher than what your doctor prescribed. The results of this can be fatal.

Other Drug Interactions

The New York Times warns against consuming grapefruit with the following medications: Sular, Desyrel, Serzone, Seroquel, Buspar, Halcion, Versed, Valium, Plendil, Cardene, Procardia, Lipitor, Baycol, Tegretol, Sonata, Seldane, Hismanal, Claritin, Nimotop, Sular, DynaCirc, Zaleplon, DynaCirc, Viagra, Propulsid, Invirase, Norvir, Nimotop, Plendil, Cardene, Depo-Medro, Sandimmune, Prograf, Procardia, Viracept, Agenerase, Ortho-Cept, Methylprednisolone, Zocor, Mevacor, Rapamune and Cordarone. There may be many more drugs that grapefruit reacts negatively with, so consult your doctor before mixing drugs and grapefruit. Side effects include heart attacks and strokes.

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