Can Red Grapefruit Lower Cholesterol?

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Those taking statins (and many other medications) should avoid grapefruit as it changes the rate certain drugs are absorbed into the bloodstream. With several cholesterol lowering drugs like simvastatin, for example, grapefruit juice can boost the level of statin to potentially dangerous levels. However, if you are not taking a statin to lower cholesterol, eating red grapefruit has been shown in a small 2006 study to lower cholesterol.

What Was The Study?
A research study was conducted in 2006 among "patients suffering from Coronary Atherosclerosis," and the results were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Though it was a small study of just 57 people, all had undergone coronary bypass surgery and had been unsuccessful trying to lower cholesterol with prescription medicine. The research study participants ate a low-calorie, low-fat diet for 30 days, and were split into three equal sized groups: one group ate a red grapefruit daily, one group had white grapefruit daily, and the diet of the third group was not supplemented with grapefruit.

What Did The Study Prove?
The study showed that eating red grapefruit lowered both total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. The study results are well explained by WebMD's Grapefruit May Improve Cholesterol article. The author explains, "The red grapefruit group improved their cholesterol most, followed by the white grapefruit group. They ended up with notably lower total cholesterol and LDL ("bad" cholesterol) than the comparison group." In all, the group that ate red grapefruit also showed the most improvement as red grapefruit also lowered triglycerides; triglyceride levels did not change for the white grapefruit or control group.

Why Does Grapefruit Lower Cholesterol?
It is hypothesized that it is the anti-oxidants and overall chemical makeup of red grapefruit that help lower cholesterol. According to the published study, "It was found that red grapefruit has a higher content of bioactive compounds and a higher antioxidant potential than blond grapefruit." The study goes on to say, "In conclusion, fresh red grapefruit contains higher quantities of bioactive compounds and has significantly higher antioxidant potential than blond grapefruit. Diet supplemented with fresh red grapefruit positively influences serum lipid levels of all fractions, especially serum triglycerides and also serum antioxidant activity."

Can Everyone Lower Cholesterol By Eating Grapefruit?
No! While this study shows that red grapefruit can lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, it can be DANGEROUS to eat grapefruit while taking just one of many prescription medicines - especially cholesterol-lowering statin medication. As I reported in The Danger of Grapefruit and High Cholesterol, if you take Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Pravachol (pravastatin) you should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice because grapefruit juice increases the level of statin in the blood, to a potentially dangerous level. If you take a statin - or many other prescription medications - be sure to talk with your doctor before consuming grapefruit.

Conclusion
For those not on prescription medications of any sort, red grapefruit has been shown in a small study to lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides. But if you take any prescription medication - especially statins to lower cholesterol - you should avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice, or at least discuss with your doctor.
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