’Tis the season to enjoy the exquisite flavor of ripe grapefruit and to take advantage of how grapefruit benefits wellness. Some of the best grapefruit in the world is from Texas, and it is in its prime December through February. Enjoy it now while it is sweetly bitter and juicy.
What Is Grapefruit?
Grapefruit is a tropical citrus fruit first discovered in Barbados 200 years ago or so. Some botanists believe that what we recognize as a grapefruit today is actually a cross between the pomelo and the orange. It is thought that the new citrus fruit was named “grapefruit” because the fruits grow in clusters, like grapes.
Grapefruit trees migrated to Florida 100 years ago, and today they are grown domestically in California, Arizona, and Texas. Grapefruit isn’t a favorite fruit in all parts of the world, but it is now commercially produced in South Africa and Brazil. The flesh can be white, yellow, pink, or red, and the flavor of grapefruit can range from sour and acidic to slightly more sweet and sugary.
If you want to enjoy grapefruit’s many benefits, just slice it in half and spoon its juicy goodness into your mouth. Looking for more creative ways to enjoy grapefruit? Here you go!
- Squeeze grapefruit juice into your water. If you enjoy lemon in your water, you will love grapefruit’s tang!
- Cut up some fresh grapefruit and add to salads—just peel off the pith and the white skin, and for a powerful, zesty zing.
- Chop up peeled sections of grapefruit for your favorite tropical salsa recipe. Grapefruit’s natural acidity is a perfect fit in this recipe for Shrimp Tacos with Mango Pink Grapefruit Avocado Salsa.
- Freeze peeled sections of grapefruit and add them to any of our VeggieShake smoothies. For example, try swapping out the frozen pineapple in our Vibrant Yellow Smoothie for frozen grapefruit to create a tart smoothie loaded with antioxidants.
Grapefruit Nutrition Facts
Grapefruit is low in calories and an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. It also falls low on the glycemic scale.
Just one-half of a medium-sized grapefruit contains:
- Calories: 51
- Total carbohydrates: 13.1 grams, 4% DV
- Dietary fiber: 2.0 grams, 8% DV
- Sugars: 8.5 grams
- Vitamin A: 1415 IU, 28% DV
- Vitamin C: 38.4 milligrams, 64% DV
- Potassium: 166 milligrams, 5% DV
- Calcium: 27.1 milligrams, 3% DV
4 Grapefruit Benefits
Grapefruit benefits cardiovascular health, the endocrine system, and weight loss—but we are not talking about the grapefruit diet that has been around for nearly 100 years. The grapefruit diet is one of the oldest fad diets that make claims that are just not proven.
As we move into grapefruit benefits, it is important to note that it is better to eat your grapefruit than to drink it. When you drink grapefruit juice, you lose high-quality fiber, including pectin that is associated with many of grapefruits benefits listed below.
1. Lowers LDL Cholesterol and Improves Triglycerides
A clinical study from researchers at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Israel revealed that red grapefruit lowers LDL cholesterol and total triglycerides in just 30 days. The researchers note that fresh red grapefruit has “significantly higher antioxidant potential than blond grapefruit” and the authors of the study support its use in patients with coronary atherosclerosis.
A note of caution—if you currently take cholesterol-lowering medications, do not start eating grapefruit. Read the precautions below and speak to your doctor first.
2. Speeds Weight Loss and Improves Post-Meal Insulin Levels
Grapefruit benefits weight loss because it is low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. And researchers have found that fresh grapefruit supports weight loss in obese individuals more than grapefruit juice, apple juice, or a placebo can. The authors of this study note that when half a grapefruit is eaten before meals with no other dietary changes, significant weight loss occurred.
The clinical trial lasted 12 weeks and participants who ate fresh grapefruit lost over 3.5 pounds, while the grapefruit juice group lost just under 2.4 pounds and the placebo group lost 0.66 pounds. The authors of this randomized placebo-controlled study also note that in addition to weight loss, eating fresh grapefruit causes a significant reduction in two-hour post-meal insulin levels.
3. Boosts Immunity
Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C—two nutrients that are proven to stimulate the immune system. During the winter months when colds and flu are prevalent, adding a grapefruit a day to your diet may help keep you from getting sick.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure and Reduces Waist Circumference
Researchers from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Arizona at Tucson have identified that daily consumption of grapefruit produces significant improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels in overweight adults. In a study published in the journal Metabolism, researchers found grapefruit is associated with a significant reduction in waist circumference, blood pressure, and LDL protein levels and moderate improvements in weight loss.
How to Pick the Perfect Grapefruit
Grapefruit is in season and there are tons of varieties in your local market—which do you choose? The best advice is to opt for the rich-hued grapefruit varieties that have higher levels of powerful antioxidants, including lycopene.
Choose grapefruits labeled “Ruby Reds” or “Flame,” “Star Ruby,” “Honeybells,” or “Thompson,” as they are generally more red and pink than their counterparts on the shelves. Next, pick one up and check its weight. A ripe grapefruit should seem heavy for its size.
If it is heavy, give it a sniff at the blossom end of the fruit. If it smells like grapefruit, put it in your cart! Once you get home, you can refrigerate grapefruit, but they tend to be most flavorful at room temperature.
Fresh grapefruits and grapefruit juice can cause dangerous interactions with the drugs you take and result in potentially toxic levels in your system. Grapefruits contain a compound called furanocoumarin that affects how your liver metabolizes certain drugs, including popular prescription medications for blood pressure, cholesterol, mood, and erectile dysfunction.
If you eat or drink grapefruit or grapefruit juice products while taking one of the medications listed below, you could potentially end up with toxic levels of the medicine in your system. Harvard Medical School note the following known grapefruit and medication interactions.
|Condition||Drug Category||Generic Name||Brand Name|
|High Blood Pressure and Angina||Calcium channel blockers||Felodipine||Plendil|
|High Blood Pressure and Angina||Calcium channel blockers||Nifedipine||Procardia, Adalat|
|Anxiety and Insomnia||Benzodiazepines||Diazepam||Valium|
|Anxiety and Insomnia||Benzodiazepines||Triazolam||Halcion|
|Anxiety and Insomnia||Benzodiazepines||Midazolam||Versed|
|Neurological and Psychiatric Medications||Buspirone||BuSpar|
|Neurological and Psychiatric Medications||Sertraline||Zoloft|
|Neurological and Psychiatric Medications||Carbamazepine||Tegretol|
In addition to the severe interactions with the prescription medications above, grapefruit may:
- Increase your risk for melanoma
- Aggravate canker sores
- Cause pain after dental work