The Health Benefits of Grapefruit
In the world of citrus, many people tend to fixate on things like oranges, lemons, and limes.
And for good reason, these ubiquitous fruits are tasty and impart all kinds of health-boosting benefits.
But, I don’t want to neglect grapefruits.
Grapefruits aren’t sweet like oranges, and they’re not overly sour like lemons or limes.
Instead, they have a different taste profile, one that could even be considered bitter.
That taste profile is exactly what drives many people to eat grapefruits every single day.
Now I’m going to show you why it wouldn’t be a bad idea to incorporate them into your diet.
One note, at the end of the article I am going to offer a side effect warning to grapefruit. While it is healthy, there is a chance it could interact negatively with some medications. So I’ll be sure to cover that in detail after I’ve gone over all the benefits.
4 Proven Benefits of Grapefruit
One thing I should mention here is that if you want to enjoy grapefruit don’t overdo it by loading it with a bunch of sugar (though you could pour a bit of maple syrup on it if you’d like).
Sugar is going to negate some of the health benefits of grapefruit.
Without further ado:
1 - It May Boost Immune Health:
Fruits, especially citrus fruits, are known immune system enhancers.
The reason is it’s filled with all kinds of antioxidants.
Eating grapefruit regularly may be beneficial for your immune system.
Specifically the #1 most famous immune-boosting antioxidant, vitamin C content.
When people think of vitamin C they just assume it keeps your immune system healthy. But when it comes to how, they don’t realize that it helps to shield your body’s cells from the damage of bacteria and viruses.
Other studies have shown that vitamin C can help you get well quicker when you’re sick, especially when recovering from the common cold.
Vitamin C isn’t the only immune-boosting compound in grapefruit though In addition to vitamin C, it also has healthy levels of vitamin A. As you may have heard vitamin A has demonstrated an ability to help your body manage inflammation and respond better to infectious pathogens, thus resisting the onset of the development of infectious diseases.
Additionally, grapefruit contains other nutrients known to support immune health which include some B vitamins, zinc, copper, and iron.
Plus, grapefruit seed extract is well-documented as helping enhance immune health, but that’s another subject altogether…
2 - Can Help Improve Cholesterol:
Your heart health is highly correlated with your cholesterol levels.
And grapefruits are here to help you have a healthy heart.
It can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and also help to balance blood pressure.
In a study of people who ate grapefruit daily (actually 3x a day), they discovered that after 6 weeks the study participants saw their blood pressure decline significantly (into the healthy range) and also saw improvements in their LDL cholesterol levels.
One of the reasons why this is likely is because grapefruit is quite high in potassium, and potassium is essential for good heart health. A whole grapefruit offers 10% of your DV of potassium.
According to the journal Pediatric Nephrology when you are consuming the right amount of potassium daily it is highly correlated with lower blood pressure and also reduces the risk of death from heart disease.
As always if you have a condition where you need to carefully manage potassium levels, please consult your doctor before making major changes.
Another reason grapefruit may help your heart is because of its fiber content. More than a few studies indicate high fiber intake is a general precursor to a super healthy heart.
3 - It May Help Fight Cancer:
The nutrients that help grapefruit resist pathogens are also likely to help grapefruit resist the formation of cancer.
According to Health Line:
Here’s an overview of the most important antioxidants in grapefruit:
Vitamin C. This is a powerful, water-soluble antioxidant that is present in high amounts in grapefruit. It may protect cells from damage that often leads to heart disease and cancer.
Beta-carotene. It’s converted into vitamin A in the body and is thought to help reduce the risk of some chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and eye-related disorders like macular degeneration.
Lycopene. This is known for its potential ability to prevent the development of certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. It may also help slow the growth of tumors and decrease the side effects of common cancer treatments.
Flavanones. Their anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Consistent intake of grapefruit and other healthy foods could help you in the quest to live a cancer-free life.
4 - It Could Help You Lose Weight:
Being overweight is highly correlated with several diseases.
And almost anything you can eat that helps you lose weight and maintain healthy blood sugar is something to consider eating regularly.
Grapefruit is included in this list.
And the good news is these claims are supported by research and sound evidence.
So how is it that grapefruit can scientifically shrink your waist?
There are several factors.
The first is because it is filled with fiber and fiber can promote feelings of fullness which reduce future cravings for foods (you know) you should not eat.
Additionally, grapefruit is mostly water. The reason this is significant is that many people mistake hunger for thirst. Thus, when you eat a grapefruit your mind is tricked into thinking you’re getting full on food, when in fact you’re satisfying your thirst.
However, I think that one of the strongest reasons it is associated with weight loss is because of how it affects your insulin levels.
Insulin resistance is one of the leading causes of obesity in America, and grapefruit can help to reduce the occurrence of insulin resistance.
According to a study published by the Journal of Medicinal Food, there is a high likelihood that grapefruit keeps insulin levels under control and reduces the chance you will become insulin resistant.
In a study featured by the journal, “subjects who ate half of a fresh grapefruit before meals experienced a significant reduction in both insulin levels and insulin resistance, compared with the group of people who didn’t eat grapefruit.”
This in addition to the fact there is a depth of evidence linking to fruit consumption and better blood sugar control as well as the reduction in the chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
Warnings Around Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a healthy food.
So how could it possibly be bad for you?
Well, it all comes down to how some chemical in grapefruit interferes with some medications.
We’re not exactly sure which chemical is the problem though it may be furanocoumarin.
According to Harvard Health:
“Grapefruit's culprit chemical does not interact directly with your pills. Instead, it binds to an enzyme in your intestinal tract known as CYP3A4, which reduces the absorption of certain medications. When grapefruit juice blocks the enzyme, it's easier for the medication to pass from your gut to your bloodstream. Blood levels will rise faster and higher than normal, and in some cases the abnormally high levels can be dangerous.
As to the medications it may affect, here’s a list:
Calcium channel blockers (high blood pressure, angina)
Nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat)
Verapamil (Calan, Isoptin)
Statins (high cholesterol)
Immunosuppressants (to prevent rejection of transplanted organs)
Benzodiazepines (anxiety, insomnia)
Other neurological and psychiatric medications:
If you take any of these I’d refrain from using anything related to grapefruit.