12 Benefits of Grapefruit

This fruit can be a game changer for your health.

The bulbous size, bitter pith (the white stuff surrounding the fruit), and tart taste of grapefruits can be off-putting to those who are more used to their sweeter citrus cousins. But it might do your health some good if you consider adding this superfood to your regular rotation of healthy foods.

It's among the 19 best foods to eat for breakfast. And you don't have to limit your intake to the early morning hours. It makes a great snack at any part of the day while relieving thirst due to its high water content.

However, if you are taking medications that lower your cholesterol or blood pressure, you should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice. That's because the compounds found in grapefruits may interact with the way your body absorbs those medications, causing the level of medications in your blood to increase dangerously.

Still, here's more about why you should start buying more of the tangy citrus fruit–and what to know about its numerous health benefits.

Grapefruit Contains a Lot of Water

Grapefruit has one of the highest water contents of any fruit. Just one cup of pink or red grapefruit cut into sections contains 203 grams of water, which is almost a cup.

That water content makes the fruit good for overall health. Your body is made of about 60% water, and water is necessary to help keep your body in shape. Water is also important for keeping conditions like constipation, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections (UTIs) at bay.

Plus, about 20% of your daily fluid intake actually comes from food. Adding grapefruit to your meal plan can help you reach your fluid goals. When choosing grapefruits, aim to pick the heaviest ones, as they contain more water.

Grapefruit May Improve Diet Quality

Grapefruit is a great choice if you want to boost your intake of high-nutrient foods. Research has suggested that consuming grapefruit improves diet quality and increases vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber intake.

One-half of a red or pink grapefruit delivers 100% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C and 35% of that of vitamin A. It also contains 8% and 5% of your recommended daily values for fiber and potassium, respectively.

The Peel and Pith Are Good for You

When you peel away the outer layer of a grapefruit, you might not want to throw it away. Grapefruit peels have higher antioxidant activity than the inner part of the fruit.

And while the grapefruit pith can have more of a bitter taste than oranges, it's worth eating along with the fruit (if you can stand the taste). Pectin, a type of soluble dietary fiber, can be found in the piths of citrus fruits. Fiber helps improve blood sugar and cholesterol. Also, fiber may possibly even lower colon cancer risk.

Grapefruit May Help Pump Up Your Immune System

That's because of the hefty doses of vitamins A (133 micrograms) and C (71.8 milligrams) in each 1-cup serving.

Both vitamins help your immune system work properly. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant, which aids in protecting cells from damage.

And although research has found that grapefruit did not help prevent colds, some evidence suggests that it may reduce your suffering or the duration of a cold.

Grapefruit Might Lower Blood Pressure

This fruit may be helpful if you have high blood pressure. Grapefruit's effect on blood pressure may be due to its decent potassium levels. That's important because potassium helps neutralize the negative effects of sodium and relax the walls of blood vessels.

For the 116 million Americans with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, a drop in blood pressure can be a good drop. After all, one study found that a reduced risk of heart disease events, heart disease, stroke, and heart failure occurred with a 10-millimeter of mercury drop in systolic blood pressure.

But don't eat grapefruit if you are already taking a blood-pressure-lowering drug. Certain ones, such as Procardia XL and Adalat CC (nifedipine), can be dangerous when combined with grapefruit. On a related note, if you are taking a cholesterol-lowering drug—including Zocor (simvastatin) or Lipitor (atorvastatin)—don't add a grapefruit for extra effect due to interactions with such medications.

You Can Get Antioxidants from Redder Grapefruits

All the grapefruit colors pack goodness, vitamins, and nutrients. But the red and pink ones come with a little extra: They both have beta-carotene and lycopene, which are antioxidants.

Lycopene is one of a group of carotenoids, or pigments, that gives red and pink grapefruits (as well as other vibrant fruits and vegetables) their colors. Studies have suggested eating diets rich in carotenoids may lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Generally, antioxidants may help prevent cancer by preventing cell damage caused by free radicals, which are harmful substances that increase your risk of developing chronic diseases.

Grapefruit May Help Control Blood Sugar

Grapefruit also has a lower glycemic index (GI), which means it does not raise blood sugar as quickly or as much as high-GI foods.

However, your blood sugar reaction to food can vary widely, depending on the composition of your meal—how much you are eating and what you are eating. For example, foods containing carbohydrates like grapefruit with protein and fat can help reduce blood sugar spikes.

If you have type 2 diabetes and are eating grapefruit, you can assess how your body reacts to grapefruit by testing your blood sugar before and two hours after eating it. Discuss your post-meal blood sugar targets with a healthcare provider.

It Might Speed Up Wound Healing

Vitamin C helps make collagen, a protein that's needed to help wounds heal. This vitamin also increases the rapid production of dermal fibroblasts (cells that help repair the skin after injury).

Always ask a healthcare provider before adding vitamins, minerals, or any herbal supplements to your daily regimen, especially if you're about to have surgery. In that case, that also applies to grapefruits, given their ability to affect the metabolism of certain drugs.

Grapefruit Has the Potential to Lower Cancer Risks

Another potential benefit to eating grapefruit for its vitamin C content is a decreased risk of cancer.

Studies have shown a link between people with higher amounts of vitamin C in their diets and a low risk of developing cancer. One review found that vitamin C intake was linked with lowered risks of 11 types of cancers or cancer-related conditions such as bladder cancer, cervical tumors, and renal cell cancer.

They Can Be Stored in Your Fridge or Left on the Counter

When some fruits are stored properly, they can last for a while–up to a few weeks. You can store grapefruits in your fridge for as long as three weeks. But they release their best flavor when kept at room temperature. Leave them on a counter or table if you plan to eat them within one week.

If you don't think that you will eat your grapefruit for two or three weeks, tuck it in the fridge. But make sure it's at room temperature before digging in. That will give you maximum flavor.

You Can Make a Meal Out of Grapefruit

People most often associate grapefruit with being a breakfast staple, but don't let that limit your imagination. Grapefruit is also great in salads, like one that features avocados, cashews, and a citrus vinaigrette. You can also use grapefruit juice for a twist on a pulled pork sandwich.

But however you use grapefruit, you might find that you can wait a little longer for your next meal or snack: Foods with high water and fiber content tend to be more filling.

The Scent Could Give You Mood and Energy Boosts

The scent of grapefruit can be helpful as a part of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy usually consists of using oils and diffusion sprays with the goal of improving mood as well as emotional and physical energy.

Citrus scents are popular in aromatherapy, especially when used in essential oils. In terms of grapefruit, grapefruit seed essential oil has been linked to lower cortisol levels and symptoms of stress.

A Quick Review

Grapefruits have a variety of health benefits that make them stand out among other fruit. They may help you fend off hunger, boost nutrient intake, and support immunity.

But proceed with caution if you are currently taking cholesterol- or blood pressure-lowering medications. The compounds in grapefruits may affect how your body absorbs those medications and cause serious side effects.

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