In my last post I supplied some ancedotal evidence about the amazing grapefruit’s ability to lower blood pressure. Coincidentally, we, meaning Chris and me, have just moved to Florida. Let the grapefruit fest begin! (Except for me with my low blood pressure.) As further proof that grapefruit lowers blood pressure, I’d like to show you what I’ve since learned, by introducing Exhibit A, my husband, and Exhibit B, the country of Japan.
Exhibit A: Ian, my husband, is worried about staying in Switzerland without me while Chris and I take up residence in Florida. Ian won’t be joining me until he retires from his job early next year. The usual stresses (paperwork and logistics) of a transatlantic move have also weighed heavily on him. Ian will continue to cohabit our flat in Switzerland with Taylor, our youngest son.
Not unsurprisingly, my husband’s blood pressure over the past year has been on the high side. Just before we crossed the pond in early August, it became worrisomely high. So, I convinced him to have a glass of grapefruit juice every day. After doing so, he said he felt better but of course, wanted to have it checked by a doctor, so we got him in for an appointment the week after we arrived here. He was greatly relieved to learn that his diastolic blood pressure had dropped a whopping 19 points (!) since it was last measured in July. There was no need to discuss medication, according to the doctor.
Exhibit B: Curious about grapefruit’s astonishing effect on blood pressure I did a bit of internet research on Florida and grapefruits and learned the following: that the Japanese used to be the biggest importers of Florida’s grapefruits until the crops were affected by seasonal weather patterns in recent years and the ageing population began to shy away from grapefruit because of its known interaction with certain statins.
TOKYO — In the glory days, not all that long ago, Florida grapefruit farmers built their lives around Japan.
And the Japanese stayed true, enjoying grapefruit for breakfast, for dessert, swirled in cocktails, individually wrapped as gifts, even saving the peels for aromatic nightly baths.
Japan has one-third the population of the United States but consumed as much or more Florida grapefruit. Among imports in a typical Tokyo produce aisle, it was second only to bananas.
The fact that the Japanese are prepared to go so far as to even bathe in grapefruit peels prompted me to wonder where the Japanese stand in the world in terms of cause of death by hypertension. Well, what do you know? Dead last. Out of 183 countries, Japan is number 183. Here are the rankings.
Now, here’s the thing. Every time you read about the virtues of grapefruit, there is a cautionary warning that grapefruit and drugs for hypertension don’t mix, which is true. The article cited above has this to say:
The risk of grapefruit juice for certain statins is that it allows more of the drug to enter the body, putting someone at risk of side effects*, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The effect depends on the type of medication, the amount of grapefruit juice consumed, and someone’s individual health circumstances. But many just prefer to be cautious and avoid it.
“When I want to send grapefruit as a gift, I cannot send it to my parents because they are concerned about the medicine,” Tsujikawa said.
Yamano & Associates, the marketing liaison of the Florida Department of Citrus in Tokyo, has a 35-year history of trying to get Japanese to pay attention to Florida grapefruit.
To promote grapefruit, the agency has partnered with actress Saki Aibu, feng shui expert Dr. Copa, the Rakuten Golden Eagles pro baseball team in the northern city of Sendai, and the Kewpie mayonnaise and salad dressing company for “power salad” recipe cards.
So, who is promoting the idea that the natural antidote to high blood pressure is grapefruit juice? Not the marketing folks, it appears. Could this be yet another one of pharma’s best-kept secrets that the marketing folks are aware of, but reluctant to divulge? If I were them, I’d want to get those old people (most of Japan) back on grapefruit.
* I’m not sure what the “side effect”s are, but I’m guessing grapefruit would cause the blood pressure to plummet dangerously. Too much of a good thing.