What's the Deal with Grapefruit?

What's the Deal with Grapefruit?

The season of citrus is upon us! Citrus has many positive qualities and for certain people, citrus can have even more beneficial results. Let’s explore the citrus family and make sure everyone gets to enjoy this season by adding citrus to their NutriBullet recipes.

Studies on flavanones, an antioxidant found only in citrus, are showing positive results for reducing the incidence of type II diabetes, insulin resistance, stroke and obesity. One key mechanism of flavanones is that they inhibit tumor necrosis factor-alpha – the route by which insulin resistance is reduced. This has numerous long-lasting results which can change the lives of those living with or predisposed to diabetes and other obesity-related diseases.

Does it matter which citrus we’re talking about specifically? Actually, not really! Using the U.S. Nutrient Database to compare citrus options, most of them are relatively similar in carbohydrate and flavanone content, so enjoyment is really up to your taste palate!

But, there is a catch. Grapefruit is a special case I like to dedicate a little more time to, because of its potential interactions with certain medications. Grapefruit contains a substance called furancoumarin that interacts with one of the body enzymes responsible for processing medication. It can make the medication more concentrated or potent, potentially elevating the medication’s toxicity.

Does that mean you shouldn’t enjoy grapefruit? Unfortunately, yes, if you’re on one of those medications. Consuming just one grapefruit can multiply the dosage effect of a medication several times, and this interaction can take place regardless of when the grapefruit or medication was consumed. Unfortunately, adults over the age of 45 are the most common buyers of grapefruit and also tend to be prescribed the most medications. The population of adults over 45 is extremely large, and so many of these interactions are likely to occur. The study also notes that older adults are more likely to have decreased capability to endure extreme systematic drug concentrations, making them more likely to experience these adverse effects.

Taking regular amounts of medications on a daily basis can increase side effects. For example, when Simvastin, a popular statin, is mixed with one 200-mL glass of grapefruit juice for 3 days, it results in a 330 percent systematic concentration of the medication in comparison with water.

The number of medications that interact with grapefruit has gone up exponentially in the past few years. At one point, it was just a few, then 17, then 43. Now, the number ranges in the 80’s. I encourage you to be vigilant and read the drug education sheets provided by the pharmacist.

In the meantime, enjoy other types of citrus so you can benefit from those flavanones! Add it to you Blasts, consume it fresh, or toss it in with your favorite salad. Citrus season is a wonderful time of year and, grapefruit or not, you should be able to reap all of its glorious benefits!

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

Comment by gaball
November 19, 2015
never taken med`s in my entire life.
No Avatar

Thank you for your comment! It is pending approval and should be posted shortly.