Want a super healthy snack? Well, look no further: How 'bout some grapefruit? Low calorie, high fiber and packed with vitamins, you can't go wrong with grapefruit ... right? Ha! Nope! WRONG. You're wrong! But don't feel too bad, because I was wrong about grapefruit, too. I mean, I kind of knew that mixing grapefruit with certain medications was a bad plan, but I never really knew why -- or how dangerous the combination can be. No idea!
And I'm a total nerd about health and nutrition stuff, so I really should've known better. But I just kind of assumed high levels of vitamin C had something to do with the conflict, which I just kind of assumed had something to do with making medications less effective than usual. Which seemed, you know, not ideal -- but not potentially lethal!
WRONG. In case you happen to be similarly misinformed, here are a few facts about drugs and grapefruit:
Vitamin C isn't the problem. Turns out active ingredients in some citrus fruits called "furanocoumarins" are the culprit -- they block an enzyme in the human body which plays a huge part in metabolizing drugs.
Grapefruit makes some medicines MORE potent, not less. According to clinical pharmacologist David Bailey, "Taking one tablet [of certain medications] with a glass of grapefruit juice is like taking 20 tablets with a glass of water." The effect can lead to toxic (deadly) overdoses.
Many of the prescription drugs on the market with the potential to interact badly with grapefruit are very common; among them: Cholesterol-lowering statins, antibiotics, calcium channel blockers (used to treat high blood pressure), cancer-fighting medications and immune system suppressants.
The take-home message, as ever: If you take any prescription drugs, check with your doctor about possible interactions. (Not just with grapefruit, but supplements and everything else -- even milk!)
Did you know mixing grapefruit with certain medications could be so dangerous?
Image via Barbara L. Hanson/Flickr