24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Nutrition
Resources
Basic InformationLatest News
AHA News: Is This Nature's Healthier Meat Replacement?AHA News: If You Think Before You Snack, It's Not So BadCooking Up a Storm During Coronavirus Crisis? Store Leftovers SafelyU.S. Kids, Teens Eating Better But Nutrition Gaps PersistTurning to Tofu Might Help the Heart: StudyEating Fish in Moderation During Pregnancy Benefits Fetus: StudyDon't Abandon Healthy Eating During Coronavirus PandemicFor Heart Health, Not All Plant-Based Diets Are Equal: StudyTrying the Keto Diet? Watch Out for the 'Keto Flu'How to Understand New Food LabelsWill a Jolt of Java Get Your Creative Juices Flowing?Post-Game Snacks May Undo Calorie-Burning Benefit of Kids' SportsOlive Oil Could Help Lower Your Heart Disease RiskMore Evidence That Ditching Red Meat Is Good for Your HeartUnscrambling the Egg Data: One a Day Looks OKAHA News: How Millennials' Notions on Food Are Changing the Entire SystemWant Your Kids to Eat Veggies? Both Parents Must Set ExampleBig Breakfast May Be the Most Slimming Meal of the DaySugary Sodas Wreak Havoc With Cholesterol Levels, Harming the HeartChicago's Short-Lived 'Soda Tax' Cut Consumption, Boosted Health Care FundsMealtime Choices Could Affect Your Odds for StrokeAHA News: This Meaty Jambalaya Takes the Fat Out of Fat TuesdayMany Americans Lack Knowledge, Not Desire, to Eat Plant-Based DietsHealthy 'Mediterranean Diet' Is Good for Your MicrobiomeConsumers Waste Twice as Much Food as Experts ThoughtHow Does Social Media Shape Your Food Choices?Why Some High-Fiber Diets Cause Gas -- And What to Do About ItMeat Still Isn't Healthy, Study ConfirmsOne Egg Per Day Is Heart-Healthy, After AllAHA News: A Sweet Super Bowl Treat That Won't Sack Your HealthWant Fewer UTIs? Go Vegetarian, Study SuggestsDiets Rich in Fruits, Veggies Could Lower Your Odds for Alzheimer'sAHA News: Processed vs. Ultra-Processed Food, and Why It Matters to Your HealthEating Out: A Recipe for Poor Nutrition, Study FindsAmericans Toss Out Nearly a Third of Food at HomeAHA News: These Doctors Want to Write 'Farmacy' PrescriptionsHealth Tip: What to Know About TurmericCan Online Reviews Help Health Inspectors Keep Tabs on Restaurants?Health Tip: Healthy Eating for VegetariansAHA News: Before Grabbing a Grapefruit, Understand Its PowerCould a Switch to Skim Milk Add Years to Your Life?E. Coli Outbreak Over, CDC Lifts Advisory Against Certain Romaine LettuceHealth Tip: Apple Cider Vinegar Fast FactsCould Your Morning Coffee Be a Weight-Loss Tool?Green Tea Drinkers May Live LongerProcessed Foods Are Making Americans ObeseCalories Per Serving or the Whole Package? Many Food Labels Now Tell BothA Breakfast Fit for Making Your New Year's ResolutionsToast a Healthy New Year With These Holiday Cocktail RecipesBetter Choices for a Fast, Healthy Lunch
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Wellness and Personal Development

AHA News: Before Grabbing a Grapefruit, Understand Its Power


HealthDay News
Updated: Jan 17th 2020

new article illustration

FRIDAY, Jan. 17, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- Grapefruit looks sweet and friendly, but you might have heard it possesses powers far beyond those of ordinary produce.

Some of that reputation is fact, and some is myth.

Facts first: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, half a medium grapefruit has only 41 calories and nearly half a day's recommended supply of vitamin C.

"In addition, it's a reasonable source of potassium," which is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, said Karen Collins, a registered dietitian in western New York who specializes in cancer prevention and heart health.

Grapefruit also is laden with natural plant compounds called phytochemicals, specifically flavonoids, which studies show can help fight stroke and heart disease. Pink and red grapefruit are good sources of beta carotene (a source of vitamin A) and lycopene, an antioxidant "cousin" to beta carotene that has been linked to lower stroke risk. One cup of red or pink grapefruit sections has as much lycopene as a medium 4-ounce tomato.

That's all good. But grapefruit's reputation for interfering with some medications is well-deserved.

It particularly affects certain anti-cholesterol statin drugs, as well as some medicines used to treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and even allergies. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can cause too much or too little of a drug to stay in the body. Too much drug increases the risk of side effects; too little means the drug may not work as well.

If you enjoy grapefruit or grapefruit juice and take such medications, there's no need to panic, Collins said. But talk with your pharmacist or health care provider to clarify what's safe. They might be able to switch your prescription to something unaffected by grapefruit, or even advise you to simply watch the timing of when you eat it.

In the past, grapefruit has been the very symbol of a "diet" food. Here's where its reputation drifts into the realm of fable.

"The things that are not true are that grapefruit has some kind of magical power, or contains some kind of fat-burning enzyme, that you're going to eat it and burn calories while you're sleeping," Collins said. Studies have found grapefruit provides no special boost to weight loss.

Even so, grapefruit's tartness encourages people not to gulp it in a rush but to slow down, letting them feel full with relatively few calories, "and that is exactly an approach that research does support as the kind of eating pattern that helps people reach and maintain a healthy weight," Collins said.

The classic way to enjoy grapefruit – splitting it and eating with a spoon – is OK, she said. (Be sure to rinse it before you cut: Otherwise, the knife might push bacteria on the skin through the entire fruit.)

But if you peel it like an orange and eat it by the section, you get added benefits from the membranes.

"Those membranes are rich in a type of dietary fiber called pectin, which is what we would call a viscous fiber," Collins said. "And that is the type of fiber that can help lower (bad) LDL cholesterol and seems to be what they call a prebiotic that helps to nurture the healthy bacteria in our gut."

For the best flavor, don't chill it.

"It's actually recommended that if you're going to be eating grapefruit within the week to just store it at room temperature," she said. It can keep for several weeks in the refrigerator, but it will taste better if you let it return to room temperature before serving.

She recommends trying it in a salsa, with chopped bell peppers and cilantro. "That adds a really nice, very crisp and refreshing kind of flavor like, say, on fish." She also thinks the sections work great on a green salad. "You can combine it with avocado, and that's kind of a classic."

And if you're in the habit of taking it with a sprinkling of salt or sugar?

First, she suggests, try it plain. "The grapefruit of today is really not necessarily the grapefruit of 30 years ago, and many of them don't have as bitter a taste."

Although most Americans already consume too much sodium and sugar, a tiny sprinkle of salt on half a grapefruit or a bit of brown sugar on a slice you stick under the broiler is "a drop in the bucket" compared with other choices you could make, Collins said.

"If you're saying a quarter of a teaspoon of sugar makes it so you enjoy that grapefruit compared to a doughnut that has eight teaspoons of sugar in it, I would take the grapefruit."