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The Health Benefits of Grapefruit

Updated on 27. Dec. 2018

Most people either love or hate grapefruit with its mix of tart and slightly sweet flavors. But this hybrid fruit is full of health benefits, making it a great addition to your diet. From boosting immune health to helping to prevent certain types of cancer, grapefruit really is a super food to keep in your kitchen.

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Grapefruit, known as Citrus x paradisi because it is a cross between the pummelo and sweet orange, is still a fairly new fruit in terms of popularity compared to its orange and lemon relatives. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that people actually began to grow it for commercial distribution and it became a popular food. The grapefruit was first discovered in Barbados in the 18th century before being introduced to other tropical climates and eventually to Florida.1

Since its rise in popularity, grapefruit has been touted as a weight loss food. Some have even gone so far as to create a whole diet around the fruit, claiming that if you eat grapefruit before every meal for 10 days you will lose 10 pounds. While these claims have not been scientifically proven, there are some studies that suggest eating grapefruit as part of a healthy diet will help to prevent weight gain in people who are overweight.2 This fad diet, which first became popular in the 1930s, seems to stand the test of time as it remains popular in today’s diet circles.

Another reason grapefruit is so popular is because it contains high levels of vitamin C, which is important for promoting immune health. Half of a medium-sized grapefruit contains over 50% of our recommended daily intake of the good stuff. Vitamin C is such a big part of the popularity of grapefruit that during WWII it was used in propaganda posters to show support for US soldiers.3 In addition to vitamin C, grapefruit also boasts impressive amounts of other key vitamins and nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin B, folate, lycopene, and choline. Vitamin A is a type of antioxidant and is important for a healthy immune system and helps promote healthy vision. Folate, a type of B vitamin, is important for the development of genetic material, so it is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get enough folate. Folate also helps to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers. Lycopene, found only in the red and pink grapefruit varieties, is important for heart health and helps in the prevention of certain types of cancer (such as lung, breast, and mouth). Choline is important for a healthy brain and is vital as part of a healthy pregnancy.

Pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber found in grapefruits, helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.4 The fiber in grapefruits also help you feel full for longer, because it takes longer to digest. This could even help you lose weight, as you will be less likely to overeat if you are eating fiber-rich foods.

While grapefruit has many health benefits, it is important to note that it can interact with certain types of medicines. In some cases, this can make the medicine more potent. In the case of estrogen birth control, this can cause it to be less effective and also may increase your chances of a bloodclot (though this is not super common and more likely if you have a pre-existing condition).5 If you are taking prescription medications, it is a good idea to speak with your physician about what types of interactions may occur if you add grapefruit or grapefruit juice to your diet.

Grapefruit is a source of many vitamins and minerals that are important for a healthy, properly functioning body. While most people think that grapefruit needs a sprinkle of sugar or a drizzle of honey to counteract the bitterness of the fruit, a simple pinch of sea salt does the trick without the added sugar. Adding grapefruit to your diet has many benefits, but one of our favorite things about the fruit is its vibrant flavor and colors that easily lend themselves to a variety of dishes.

Check out some of our favorite recipes featuring grapefruit: 

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Grapefruit Cream Cakes

Citrus Cucumber Punch

Fennel Salad

Grapefruit Popsicles

Grapefruit Green Smoothie 


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1. Morton, Julia F. "Grapefruit." Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products. Purdue University, 1987. Web.

2. Tremblay, Sylvie, MSC. "Does Grapefruit Juice Burn Belly Fat?"LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 12 Jan. 2016. Web.

3. "World War Two and the Vitamin Sea: Navy Propaganda Posters of the Florida Citrus Commission." Naval Historical Foundation. Naval Historical Foundation, 28 Jan. 2014. Web.

4. Sarao, Carol. "Benefits of Eating Grapefruit." LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 28 Jan. 2015. Web.

5. Nall, Rachel. "Grapefruit & Effectiveness of Birth Control." LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 29 Aug. 2013. Web.

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