Tangy and juicy, grapefruit has the citrusy goodness that rivals that of orange. Grapefruit is a subtropical citrus fruit that grows in clusters like grapes, thus the name. It’s a hybrid between sweet orange and pomelo, originating in Barbados. When first found, it was named as the “forbidden fruit.” It’s frequently mistaken for pomelo because they are a lot similar.
This fruit comes in various colors, including pink, yellow, and red, and its taste varies from sweet to sour. Although it’s available all year, grapefruits are in season from winter to early spring.
Nutritional Benefits of Grapefruit
While low in calories, a grapefruit contains various nutrients. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A, which supports the immune system and keeps the skin and eyes healthy. It’s also rich in vitamin C, which is very beneficial for the immune system. Grapefruit is one of the lowest-calorie fruits that can provide a decent amount of fiber.
A grapefruit that weighs 200 grams contains:
- 64 calories
- 3 g of protein
- 2 g of carbohydrates
- 2 g of fiber
- 2 mg of iron
- 24 mg of calcium
- 16 mg of magnesium
- 16 mg of phosphorus
- 278 mg of potassium
- 8 mcg of Vitamin C
- 92 mcg of Vitamin A
- 4 mg of choline
- 20 mcg of folate
- 1,100 mcg of beta carotene
- 2,270 mcg of lycopene (in pink and red grapefruits)
- 12 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin
Health Benefits of Grapefruit
1. It improves the immune system.
Since grapefruit is rich in vitamin C, eating this fruit regularly can benefit your immune system. Vitamin C helps protect the body from harmful viruses and bacteria. It prevents free radical damage in the cells, making it effective for reducing the severity of inflammatory conditions.
Also, several studies have shown that vitamin C can help people recover quickly from the common cold. Consuming veggies and fruits high in vitamin C is associated with a reduced risk of death from different causes, including stroke, heart disease, and cancer.
2. It supports healthy cholesterol levels.
Some human studies have found that grapefruit can improve cholesterol blood levels, particularly for patients who have atherosclerosis. Grapefruit has pectin, a form of soluble fiber that can slow down the progression of atherosclerosis, a condition wherein there’s a build-up of fatty material inside the arteries.
Both red and blond grapefruit can help reduce blood levels of LDL cholesterol, and red grapefruit can lower triglyceride levels as well.
3. It aids weight loss.
Grapefruit is known as a miracle weight loss fruit. It contains a decent amount of fiber that’s beneficial for inducing feelings of fullness. It also has a few calories but has lots of water, which is an excellent characteristic of foods that can help with weight loss. A study that involved 91 obese patients found that those who ate half a fresh grapefruit before eating meals lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t.
4. It helps prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.
Grapefruit is low on the glycemic index, which means it can provide nutrients but doesn’t have a significant negative effect on blood sugar levels. A study has found that grapefruit is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. The naringin content of grapefruit has similar properties to an inhibitor that doctors use to improve glucose tolerance in persons with type 2 diabetes. Including grapefruit in your diet can reduce your likelihood of becoming insulin resistant.
5. It reduces the risk of stroke.
According to a report by the American Heart Association, a diet high in flavonoids (compounds present in citrus fruits) may lower the risk of stroke in women. It has been found that the risk of ischemic stroke was 19% lower among those who consumed the highest amounts of grapefruits and citrus fruits.
6. It’s high in antioxidants.
Grapefruit offers different kinds of antioxidants that offer various health benefits, including reduced risk of several diseases. Antioxidants help protect your cells from damages caused by free radicals, and here are the most important antioxidants in grapefruit:
- Vitamin C – This powerful antioxidant can protect cells from damage that leads to heart disease and cancer.
- Lycopene – Lycopene helps slow the growth of tumors and lessen the side effects of common cancer treatments.
- Beta-carotene – It can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer and eye-related disorders like macular degeneration.
- Flavanones – This can help reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
7. It helps protect the skin.
The vitamin C content of grapefruit can play a vital role in the formation of collagen, the skin’s primary support system. Vitamin C doesn’t only help protect the body against diseases – it can also protect the skin against sun damage and signs of aging.
How to Add Grapefruit to Your Diet
Grapefruit is a yummy fruit that needs little to no preparation at all, making it easy to add to your diet. Even if you have a busy lifestyle, you can still enjoy the fruit on a regular basis. Here are the ways to enjoy grapefruit:
- Snack on its slices.
- Add grapefruit slices to a salad for lunch or dinner.
- Blend it to a smoothie with other fruits and vegetables.
- Squeeze grapefruit for a refreshing, natural juice drink.
- Add grapefruit to a fruit salad with pineapples, oranges, strawberries, and grapes.
- Add it to a healthy breakfast parfait.
Risks of Eating Grapefruit
Grapefruit is refreshing, juicy, healthy, and good for you, but it’s not suitable for everyone, especially if you’re taking certain medications. Grapefruit has an enzyme-binding ability that causes the medication to pass from the gut to the bloodstream faster than normal. It raises the levels of the medication in the blood, which can cause overdose and be dangerous for the body
The NHS advises that grapefruit and grapefruit juice must not be consumed with medications including but not limited to:
- Calcium channel blockers
- Some cancer medications
If you are taking any of these medications, consult your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet.