Grapefruit May Sweeten Way to Lower Cholesterol

Study finds the red variety, especially, may fight heart disease

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TUESDAY, Feb. 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Red grapefruit appears to lower cholesterol and fight heart disease, Israeli researchers report.

The study included 57 people with high blood cholesterol who'd recently had coronary bypass surgery and whose high lipid levels failed to respond to statin drugs, commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol.

The patients were divided into three groups. One group received a single daily serving of fresh red grapefruit for 30 consecutive days, another group received white grapefruit, and a third group received no grapefruit. All three groups were also fed regular, balanced meals.

Those who received red or white grapefruit showed significant decreases in blood lipid levels. The patients who did not eat grapefruit showed no changes in lipid levels. The researchers found that red grapefruit was more effective than white grapefruit in lowering lipid levels, particularly blood triglycerides. Elevated levels of this type of cholesterol are often associated with heart problems.

The antioxidants in grapefruit are likely responsible for the health benefits and the fresh fruit and juice are equally beneficial, the study authors said.

They also noted that red grapefruit generally has higher levels of antioxidants than white varieties. It may also be possible that red grapefruit has some unknown chemicals that help reduce triglycerides. The researchers plan to conduct further studies.

One caveat: a number of studies have shown that grapefruit interacts with certain medications, so the researchers advise individuals contemplating a boost in their grapefruit consumption to consult first with their pharmacist.

The findings were published online by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about cholesterol.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, February 2006

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