Grapefruit is often seen as an important fruit for weight loss. It’s a low calorie choice that provides plenty of vitamin C and can taste pretty good too. It also comes with some problems, as compounds in grapefruit interact with medications and there’s still some sugar to worry about. So, how does this all balance out, is grapefruit good for you or not?
To answer that question, we need to look at the benefits and the risks of grapefruit.
Don’t forget though, the health impacts of any food are related to how you use it. If you’re eating a large number of calories every day, plenty of processed food, and far too many carbs, then adding some grapefruit to your diet isn’t going to help much at all. You would need to also shift to a healthier focus and rely on whole foods.
Is Grapefruit Good For Your Health?
- Types Of Grapefruit
- Benefits Of Grapefruit
- How Grapefruit Could Be Harmful
- Does The Grapefruit Diet Work?
- Final Thoughts
Types Of Grapefruit
We often think about grapefruit as a single fruit. In practice though, there are plenty of varieties, which vary in their appearance and flavor. There are some nutritional differences too.
Check out the examples below to see what we mean. These aren’t all the types of grapefruit out there, but they’re some interesting ones to get you started.
- Pink grapefruit remain extremely popular and with good reason. The flesh tends to have a slight tangy sweetness, making them an excellent choice for juicing.
- Red grapefruit. This is one of the most common types. Despite the bright color of the flesh, red grapefruits are often still very bitter. Their flavor isn’t as complex as other types either, which may make red grapefruit less appealing.
- White grapefruit tend to have yellow skin with little color blush at all. They’re less sweet than other types of grapefruit, but they still have an interesting flavor balance that works well in many recipes.
- Oro blanco, sometimes called white gold. Rather than being a true grapefruit, this fruit is a cross between a white grapefruit and a pomelo (which is interesting, as grapefruits themselves are thought to be a pomelo and orange hybrid). Regardless of origin, oro blanco fruits tend to have a green to yellow skin and sweet flesh that has little bitterness.
- Cocktail. These small grapefruit are roughly the size of a navel orange and have bright green skin. Don’t underestimate them though, as they are surprisingly delicious and even have sweet juice. How’s that for special?
- Pomelo. This variety is also called pummelo and is often found in Asian markets. It’s another green grapefruit, one with a thick peel and pale flesh. The most notable feature is the texture, which is firmer than most other grapefruits – making pomelo grapefruit ideal for chefs.
Pink and red grapefruit may be the best choices for health, as the bright flesh should mean more antioxidants. However, it’s not clear how significant the antioxidant difference truly is.
Benefits Of Grapefruit
Low In Calories
Grapefruit tend to be low in calories, lower than many types of fruit. For example, half a grapefruit often contains just over 50 calories. How’s that for impressive? This makes the fruit a very easy way to add extra fiber and nutrients into your diet.
The fact that it’s a type of fruit is particularly important. After all, fruit is a critical source of antioxidants, but the high sugar content of some can make them difficult to use.
Helps To Hydrate You
Grapefruit is hydrating too. Seriously, half of a medium grapefruit gives you around 4 ounces of water. You can’t get all of your daily water needs from grapefruit, of course, but water rich foods always make it easier to hit fluid targets.
Offers Plenty Of Nutrients
We can’t forget about the nutrients either. Vitamin C is the most well-known one here, as you get more than 60% of your recommended daily vitamin C intake from just half a grapefruit. You get a decent amount of vitamin A too, along with small amounts of some minerals like potassium and magnesium.
Getting enough vitamin C is thought to help with your immune system, giving your body a better chance of fighting off colds and the flu. You don’t need insane amounts of vitamin C to see those benefits, so even half a grapefruit per day could make a notable difference.
There’s also a decent amount of fiber in grapefruit, including a type known as pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that’s been linked to benefits like improved blood sugar levels and decreases in blood cholesterol. This makes it particularly relevant for your heart health.
Don’t forget that fiber also helps with your digestion.
We don’t just mean that fiber helps to keep you regular, although that is certainly part of the equation. A well-functioning digestive system helps your body to absorb the nutrients that it needs from food, giving you the most benefits from your diet.
The fiber is one reason that whole grapefruits are so much more powerful than grapefruit juice. It’s possible to find grapefruit juice that’s made using pulp, but even then, the fiber content is lower than you’ll ever find with the whole fruit.
The Antioxidant Content
Like most fruits, grapefruits are a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important plant-based compounds that have been linked to a whole host of benefits.
Getting enough antioxidants in your diet might even decrease your risk of disease and help you to live longer.
There’s another important thing about antioxidants too – there are many different types. Consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables helps provide you with a variety of different antioxidants, which may influence your health in diverse ways. This is one reason why varied diets may be more powerful than narrow ones.
Helps Promote Weight Loss
Grapefruit is often promoted as a weight loss food. Some people even have half a grapefruit with breakfast every morning for exactly this reason.
There is some merit to the idea too, as grapefruits are relatively low in calories, contain plenty of fiber, and have a decent amount of water. Those features mean that grapefruit can easily be part of a healthy weight loss diet.
Grapefruit helps weight loss another way too – the fruit fits well onto most eating plans.
That being said, other foods with a similar balance of calories, fiber, and water should offer the exact same benefits. There’s little evidence that eating grapefruit regularly promotes weight loss any more than other healthy eating patterns.
May Decrease Diabetes Risk
Eating grapefruit may also help to lower your diabetes risk by helping to control insulin levels. The effect isn’t so surprising either, given the amount of fiber that is found in grapefruit.
Indeed, eating any whole fruit could help to protect against diabetes and improve blood sugar control. The trick is to focus on fruit itself, rather than fruit juice or smoothies. Even if you include plenty of fiber in a smoothie, the blood sugar impacts of a drink are always different than eating a whole piece of fruit.
How Grapefruit Could Be Harmful
Interacts With Medications
The biggest problem with grapefruit is how it interacts with medication.
There are two separate problems here. In some cases, a compound in grapefruit can block an enzyme responsible for medication metabolism. This can lead to increased levels of the medication in the bloodstream, which can easily be dangerous.
In other cases, grapefruit prevents the medication from being absorbed when it’s in the intestines. This decreases the amount of medication in the bloodstream, so the medication ends up being less effective.
Thankfully, the interactions between grapefruit and medication are well-known. If this applies to your medication, there should be clear details on the medication information. You can also ask your doctor about possible interactions.
This is a critical area to look into – as some interactions between grapefruit and medication can be dangerous.
May Damage Your Tooth Enamel
The citric acid in citrus fruit is never good for your tooth enamel, especially if you have sensitive teeth or are eating citrus fruit often.
Thankfully, there are some easy ways to reduce the risk. The first is to always rinse your teeth after eating grapefruit. Don’t brush them though. You need to wait roughly half an hour after eating acidic food to brush your teeth or you risk damaging your tooth enamel further.
Avoid sucking on grapefruit as well, as sucking grapefruit often puts the fruit right against your tooth enamel, which isn’t helpful at all.
You can also try eating cheese at the same time as grapefruit. This might sound strange, but the cheese helps to balance out the acidity and decreases any impact on your teeth. Besides, cheese and grapefruit make for a surprisingly delicious combination.
The Carb Content
Grapefruit is relatively low in carbs for a fruit, as you end up with around 11 grams of net carbs in half a grapefruit. The exact amount varies depending on the type of grapefruit and its size, but you’re still getting fewer carbs than with many types of fruit.
Whether this is a problem depends on your point of view.
If you’re eating a regular diet, then the carb content shouldn’t matter too much. However, the carbs might be an issue if you’re following a keto diet or need to keep sugar to a minimum.
Anyone being cautious with their carb or sugar intake might not need to avoid grapefruit entirely. Instead, you might just need to keep the portion sizes small and focus on the fruit itself, rather than grapefruit juice.
Does The Grapefruit Diet Work?
You might have heard about the grapefruit diet (or the Hollywood diet) as a way to lose weight. It was one of the first fad diets to hit the scene and, like most fad diets, the evidence behind it is scarce at best.
Most versions of the diet involve consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice as part of every meal. Thankfully, grapefruit isn’t the only part of the diet. You are consuming other foods too.
That being said, most versions of the diet keep the calorie content low – often below 800 calories per day. You may also need to focus on low carb and high protein foods, like eggs, meat, and vegetables.
The focus on grapefruit comes from the claim that they contain fat burning enzymes, ones that could make weight loss that much easier. However, there’s little evidence that these enzymes even exist.
Most versions of the diet are quite restrictive as well. This can be a problem, as restrictive diets are tough to follow. Many people end up abandoning them part-way through.
You might still lose weight on the diet, given that you’re cutting down calories. Plus, the fiber from grapefruit and the protein from other ingredients should help to keep you full.
Still, this is only meant to be a short-term diet. You’d still need a diet plan for afterward, otherwise you risk regaining all the weight you lost. The grapefruit diet doesn’t help with this at all.
Like most fruit, grapefruit offers plenty of benefits, including various vitamins and minerals, and a host of antioxidants. The low calorie content and decent amount of fiber go a long way towards helping with your health as well.
The biggest issue is how grapefruit interacts with some medications. This effect is strong enough to mean that some people need to avoid grapefruit entirely. Thankfully, none of the observed benefits are exclusive to grapefruit. You can get plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals by following a diet that’s rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other important ingredients.