Grapefruit is a healthy food. It’s listed in such books as Food Cures: Breakthrough Nutritional Prescriptions for Everything from Colds to Cancer, published in 2007 by Reader’s Digest Association. On page 179 they discuss red grapefruit, saying “In an Israeli study of 57 men and women who had had bypass surgery and whose cholesterol levels weren’t responding to stain medications, those who ate a red grapefruit a day for 30 days along with their regular meals lowered their total cholesterol by more than 15 percent, their LDL cholesterol by more than 20 percent, and their triglycerides by more than 17 percent.” The recommendation is 1 cup of fresh grapefruit or ½ cup of pure grapefruit juice each day.
Caution is advised, however
People on medications are advised to avoid grapefruit and its juice as they inhibit two enzymes that are important in metabolization or the breaking down of hundreds of medications. When the enzymes are suppressed, much more of the drug a person has taken remains available to enter their bloodstream. And you don’t even have to swallow the meds at the same time as the fruit or juice. Just the presence of grapefruit in your system will affect how your medicine is broken down. For example, according to Graedon’s Guide to Grapefruit Interactions, “… grapefruit interaction is long-lasting. … investigators have found that the effect is measurable for at least 24 hours and may linger up to two days.”
The “grapefruit effect” is highly variable. It depends in large measure on the amount of the enzyme CYP 3A4 that is found in each person’s digestive tract. Some people naturally have a lot of this enzyme, others, relatively little. Physicians feel that for safety’s sake, it is better to avoid grapefruit altogether in any form for those people on heart, blood pressure, immunosuppressants and many other medications.
Another reason to consider caution
In a recent study, Kristine R. Monroe, a researcher at the department of preventive medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, reports that postmenopausal women who eat a quarter of a grapefruit daily may be upping their breast cancer risk by as much as 30 percent. The reason? The investigators conclude that components in grapefruit boost levels of estrogen, a hormone associated with high risk. This is the first study to link a commonly eaten food with increased breast cancer risk in women who have passed menopause. Always read the information provided on any new medication you are prescribed, and on over-the-counter drugs too. Or ask your pharmacist about drug interactions.
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