Grapefruit has been around since the 1700s when it was bred as a cross between a pomelo and an orange. The fruit received its name from the way it grows in clusters. Grapefruits are known for their unique sweet and sour taste and more recently became popular for their reported ability to control appetite.
Grapefruit is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Many powerful health benefits are continuing to be studied. Some of the benefits are curative and others are preventative. This tart tropical citrus fruit can affect many parts of the body to cleanse toxins and support a variety of healthy body functions.
Major Grapefruit Benefits
1. Low in Calories/High in Nutrients
This citrus fruit has one of the lowest calorie contents at 56-74 calories per cup, along with beneficial fiber and at least 15 nutrients. Some of the nutrients found in one cup of fresh fruit are:
- 15-20 g carbohydrates
- 2 g fiber
- Vitamin C: 132% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 43% of the RDI
It also contains beneficial amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, folate, vitamin E, phosporous, manganese, copper, and zinc.
2. Weight loss
One of the most popular grapefruit benefits is its value as part of a balanced weight-loss diet. The fiber contained in the fruit helps promote a feeling of fullness so that you naturally eat less.
Fiber also increases digestion time by slowing the speed at which the stomach empties. The result may be a more controlled appetite throughout the day. It has also been shown to help control lipids and blood pressure, both of which can contribute to obesity.
Although some have promoted this fruit as a kind of wonder weight loss food, there is really no scientific evidence for it. It can, however, be an important part of a healthy weight-loss program, contributing to natural appetite control and overall physical health. Studies definitely confirm its value for maintaining healthy weight limits.
3. Improved Heart Health
Studies have shown that important nutrients contained in this fruit can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Nutrients such as potassium not only reduce blood pressure, but also reduce the risk of heart disease.
Other important nutrients such as lycopene, vitamin E, and choline have also been shown to support a healthy heart and arteries. The DASH diet, which supports lowering blood pressure through diet choices, includes grapefruit on its list of recommended foods.
With heart disease being a leading cause of death for men and women, maintaining a healthy circulatory system free from bad cholesterol or other blockages is a definite priority. If you take regular medications for any type of heart issue, be sure you speak to your doctor about any potential interactions.
Having up to 90% water, this fruit can aid in providing the body with needed hydration. You still need to drink plenty of water, but adding these types of water-rich foods helps keep hydration and electrolyte levels up for overall healthy body functions.
Fruit juice can be a healthy choice when you’re thirsty for something more than water. Instead of sugary drinks, try some fresh-squeezed or infused fruit juice as a treat. The fruit can also have a calming effect, as it supplies needed fluid content.
A major part of grapefruit benefits is their phenomenal antioxidant contents. Vitamin C is known to aid in quicker recovery from colds and flus, as well as protect important cells from damage.
The fruit also contains beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This vitamin is used to combat chronic heart disease and certain eye-related disorders, such as macular degeneration. Flavanones are also present to support heart health along with healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
6. Cancer prevention
Studies suggest that lycopene, another nutrient found in grapefruit, may help prevent certain types of cancers from growing, including prostate cancer. The fruit may also help decrease the side effects of conventional cancer treatments and slow the growth of existing tumors.
Lypocene may also lower your risk of colon and lung cancer. However, recent studies indicate the intake of this fruit should be limited or avoided completely by postmenopausal women as it may contribute to breast cancer. It may also interfere with a few cancer medications rather than augment them. Ask your medical professional if you feel you may be at risk.
7. Reduce the Chances of Stroke
Flavanones and vitamin C, which are found in most citrus fruits, may lower the risk of ischemic stroke in women by up to 19%, according to the American Heart Association. Protection is thought to be provided through widening the blood vessels, along with anti-inflammatory effects.
Ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot or other obstruction in a blood vessel leading to the brain. The powerful antioxidants found in citrus fruits can help keep blood flowing freely. These studies recommend eating the whole fruit, as juice alone contains significantly more sugar.
8. Fight the Effects of Aging
Lycopene, indicated by the pink pigment in some of this fruit, can help fight against aging cells. Lypocene combats harmful free radicals that may speed up the cells’ aging process.
Also among the many antioxidant benefits is spermidine, which helps extend the lifespan of cells and helps new cells grow. It promotes the growth and regeneration of immune cells throughout the body for overall good health. The small amounts of B vitamins and minerals found in the fruit also help maintain skin integrity, which is one of the body’s major barriers against infections.
9. Supports the Immune System
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C can help guard against harmful bacteria and viruses. It may also help to fight against infectious diseases. Other vitamins and minerals work together to support and maintain optimum immune system function.
Begin to eat these fruits before the flu season begins to help build your immune system against invasive winter illnesses. Even during times when you are not able to eat as healthy as you know you should, one of these fruits a day can help keep your body’s defenses strong.
10. May Prevent Insulin Resistance in Diabetes
Although most commonly known for sugar control, insulin is a hormone that regulates many processes in your body. Insulin resistance is the result of cells ceasing to respond to insulin. This leads to higher levels of both sugar and insulin, primary risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Eating half a fresh grapefruit before meals has been shown to help control insulin levels, reducing your chances of becoming insulin resistant. In fact, eating fruit in general may lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
11. Reduces the Risk of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are a result of the buildup of waste in the kidneys. These stones can cause an extremely painful blockage and can be difficult and expensive to treat. The organic citric acid found in many tropical fruits can keep stones from forming, flushing waste material from the system.
Citric acid can also make pH levels in the kidneys and urine less favorable for the formation of stones. However, some studies dispute this claim for grapefruit, so if you have this painful affliction, you may want to do more research.
12. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Grapefruit requires little to no prep work and is easy to fit into your diet. They can be eaten as a snack or as a substitute for a sugary dessert. They can be combined with kale and avocado in a salad, or blended with other fruit and veggies in a smoothie or detox drink. They are also an ever-popular breakfast food.
Who Should Avoid Grapefruit
Even with so many grapefruit benefits, the fruit may not be for everyone. The fruit has been known to interfere with certain medications, such as statins for lowering cholesterol, some blood pressure medications, and some anxiety medications. Even some allergy meds may be affected. Check with your doctor about drug interactions before making the fruit a regular part of your diet.
People suffering from IBS may also want to avoid making this fruit a regular part of their diet. It is extremely high in citric acid, making it a possible irritant that may increase acid reflux. This may also be a fruit to avoid if you are struggling with adrenal fatigue, as it may increase stress on the adrenal glands.
Grapefruit benefits are many and backed up by studies conducted all over the world. This fruit should be included in a healthy diet, not just for the rewards of potential weight loss, but for the many health contributions it makes.
In recent years, many new recipes have been developed to take advantage of the unique flavor offerings of this tart and tangy fruit, so you don’t have to feel limited or bored with the flavor or presentation. Feel free to try creative ways of benefiting from this wonderful, healthy food source.