Does grapefruit lower blood pressure? Here’s everything you need to know.

The refreshingly tart flavors of grapefruit can often be overlooked when compared to the fruit’s other citrus cousins, but in the summer, grapefruit can be a wonderful addition to salads, smoothies, or even simply enjoyed by itself.

Widely regarded as a superfood, grapefruit’s health benefits are backed by science. Evidence suggests that eating grapefruit can boost your intake of essential vitamins and minerals — it may even help fight cancer.

In recent years, studies have also concluded that eating grapefruit can help moderate blood pressure and promote heart health. But how exactly does this work? We spoke with a registered dietitian to find out everything you need to know.

What are the health benefits of grapefruit?

While you should always find ways to incorporate fruit into your diet, “there's a couple things about grapefruit that does make it more unique,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, a registered dietitian, author of “2-Day Diabetes Diet,” and creator of The Blood Sugar Fix.

Grapefruit is packed with potassium, fiber, and the antioxidant vitamin C — essential nutrients that support your immune and cardiovascular systems. The fruit’s low position on the glycemic index scale, and corresponding impact on blood sugar, also makes it a nutritious food to eat if you’ve been diagnosed with type two diabetes, Palinski-Wade says.

Does grapefruit lower blood pressure?

Yes - if you’re struggling with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, definitely consider incorporating grapefruit into your diet. Eating high-potassium fruits, including grapefruit, has been linked to reducing blood pressure, per Healthline. When ingested, potassium gets to work by relaxing your blood vessel walls, improving muscle function and allowing for your body to better receive nutrients, according to Harvard Health.

While studies have shown there are many fruits that can help moderate blood pressure, in particular to grapefruit, “the sweet red and the pink varieties seem to have even a greater impact,” says Palinski-Wade.

Grapefruit’s high fiber content may also contribute to lowering blood pressure, by way of weight management. “If you're [eating] grapefruit regularly, and it's rich in a broader and efficient fiber, it's going to help you feel more satisfied,” potentially reducing calorie intake, and helping you lose weight, explains Palinski-Wade. “By reducing even a small amount of body weight, we do see a benefit to blood pressure.”

Can you eat grapefruit while taking blood pressure medication?

According to studies, there are over 85 medications that may present dangerous side effects if consumed alongside grapefruit. Of these medications, some are commonly-prescribed to treat blood pressure.

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Interactions between grapefruit and these medications occur in the digestive system. When a medication enters your intestine, it’s typically broken down with the help of the enzyme CYP3A4. Grapefruit can disrupt this process, causing the drug to enter your bloodstream at a higher concentration than intended. Occasionally, the opposite effect can occur, and your body can block the drug from being absorbed into your bloodstream, resulting in these medications not functioning as intended, per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Therefore, to mitigate these adverse effects, if you take medication to treat high blood pressure (or any medication for that matter), it’s essential that you consult your prescribing doctor or pharmacist before eating grapefruit.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Does grapefruit lower blood pressure? Health benefits, explained.