Fact Check: Does consuming grapefruit clear plaque in the artery?

Grapefruit can be beneficial for the heart under certain conditions but it cannot remove plaque completely.

By Sunanda Naik  Published on  29 Sep 2023 10:00 AM GMT
Fact Check: Does consuming grapefruit clear plaque in the artery?

Hyderabad: A Facebook post claiming to share ‘hidden facts’ about the effectiveness of grapefruit in clearing plaque deposited in arteries is making rounds on social media.

Similar posts can be seen here and here.

We also found a similar post on Facebook that warns heart patients against consuming grapefruit if they are on medications.

A common text among the graphics of the posts reads, “Eating 1 grapefruit a day for 9 months can clear all plaque in one’s arteries.”

Fact Check

NewsMeter found that the claim has context missing.

What and how does plaque build up in the artery?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time, which can partially or totally block the blood flow. This process is called atherosclerosis.”

Moreover, “Plaque forms when cholesterol lodges in the wall of the artery. To fight back, the body sends white blood cells to trap the cholesterol, which then turn into foamy cells that ooze more fat and cause more inflammation. That triggers muscle cells in the artery wall to multiply and form a cap over the area. But the soft plaque beneath the cap is dangerous,” says Harvard Health Publishing.

Does grapefruit really help?

The answer is not that simple as multiple studies have shown varied effects of grapefruit on health. In a study published by the American Chemical Society in 2008, it is mentioned that grapefruit juice can increase the absorption of certain drugs — with the potential for turning normal doses into toxic overdoses.

The release further adds, “The researcher who first identified this interaction is reporting new evidence that grapefruit and other common fruit juices, including orange and apple, can do the opposite effect by substantially decreasing the absorption of other drugs, potentially wiping out their beneficial effects.”

“Recently, we discovered that grapefruit and these other fruit juices substantially decrease the oral absorption of certain drugs undergoing intestinal uptake transport. The concern is loss of benefit of medications essential for the treatment of serious medical conditions,” says study leader David G Bailey, PhD, a professor of clinical pharmacology with the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

Another study published in the National Library of Medicine found that red grapefruit positively influences serum triglyceride levels in patients suffering from coronary atherosclerosis (thickening or hardening of the arteries).

Grapefruit has a number of benefits such as containing a healthy dose of vitamin C and beta carotene (Vitamin A) but the downside of having grapefruit on a heart condition or when on anti-cholesterol drugs might pose harmful effects.

Lastly, making plaque disappear from arteries is not possible, but with lifestyle changes and medication, they can shrink and stabilise, according to Harvard Health Publishing. We can control the plaque buildup to an extent by lowering the level of cholesterol in the blood and with drugs used most often to reduce LDL cholesterol levels such as statins. An intensive lifestyle change might also help in shrinking plaque.

Claim Review:Consuming grapefruit clear plaque in the artery.
Claimed By:Social media user
Claim Reviewed By:NewsMeter
Claim Source:Facebook
Claim Fact Check:False
Next Story