There’s little doubt that grapefruit is healthy. It’s a low calorie fruit that offers plenty of antioxidants and fiber, not to mention an array of vitamins and minerals. Grapefruit juice, on the other hand, is more debatable, with more sugar and less fiber than whole grapefruits. So then, is grapefruit juice good for you?
This question matters as it’s easy to assume that fruit juice is healthy and just as good as the real thing. As you’ll see though, there are some important things to consider before you add grapefruit juice to your diet regularly.
If you want something outside the box, why not experiment with unusual citrus fruit? After all, lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit get a little boring after a while. The more unusual types have their own interesting flavors and benefits.
Is Grapefruit Juice Good For You?
- Benefits Of Grapefruit Juice
- The Problems With Grapefruit Juice
- How To Find Good Grapefruit Juice
- Grapefruit Juice Versus Orange Juice
- Final Thoughts
Benefits Of Grapefruit Juice
Relatively Low In Calories
Grapefruit itself is fairly low in calories, especially when compared to other types of fruit. This can mean that the juice is relatively low in calories as well.
However, relatively is the operative word here. Grapefruit does still contain some sugar after all, more than you might expect. For example, a 1-cup serving of white grapefruit juice can contain around 100 calories. These calories can add up fast, especially if you drink large glasses of juice at a time.
Remember to check the label of any juice you drink as well. Some companies add sugar or other types of fruit juice to create a sweeter drink.
Offers Some Nutrients
Most of the nutrients from grapefruit do show up in grapefruit juice as well, including vitamin C. You may even get your entire vitamin C requirements for the day from a single glass of grapefruit juice.
That’s pretty impressive, right?
The antioxidants from grapefruit can carry over into the juice as well. Antioxidants are important, as they’re thought to decrease disease risk and may have a variety of benefits.
Juice Is Easier To Use Than Fruit
While whole grapefruits may be healthier than grapefruit juice, there’s no denying that the juice is more convenient. You can simply pour a glass and drink it on the spot.
Grapefruits take a little more work. You might be able to eat the grapefruit outright, especially if you choose a relatively sweet variety. However, some types are quite sour, so you may need to prepare the grapefruit in some way, like sprinkling sugar and cinnamon on it and baking it.
The Problems With Grapefruit Juice
Interacts With Medications
Compounds in grapefruit and grapefruit juice interact with many medications, including some statins, calcium channel blockers, benzodiazepines, and immunosuppressants.
This is a critical topic, as some of the interactions can lead to severe side effects.
Much of the problem comes from the way that compounds in grapefruit interact with an enzyme called cytochrome P450. This enzyme influences the metabolism of some medications, sometimes meaning that the drug accumulates in your system, potentially causing significant harm.
In other situations, grapefruit can prevent medications from being absorbed properly. This has the opposite effect, meaning that the levels of the drug in your system are lower than they should be, which compromises the effectiveness of the medication.
Details about potential interactions should be provided on the paperwork for your medication. If you’re unsure, then it’s worth double-checking with your doctor – as some interactions can put you at serious risk.
This problem applies to grapefruit and grapefruit juice. However, the issue can be more significant with juice because it’s easier to have too much. Even a glass of grapefruit juice could be enough to cause serious issues with some medications.
Thankfully, you mightn’t always need to cut out grapefruit juice entirely. It may be possible to adjust your medication dose to account for your consumption.
May Erode Your Tooth Enamel
There’s also the risk that grapefruit juice will erode your tooth enamel. This is partly related to the sugar content of the juice and partly to the citric acid.
To get around this, it’s important to rinse your mouth out with water after having grapefruit or grapefruit juice. Resist the temptation to brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes. Brushing your teeth too soon after acidic foods or drinks can actually increase tooth enamel loss.
Drinking grapefruit juice through a straw can help as well. If you’re going to do this, position the straw carefully so that most of the juice misses your teeth.
It Isn’t As Powerful As The Whole Fruit
Fruit juice always has the same issue, it isn’t nearly as powerful as eating whole fruit. You tend to get more sugar and more calories per serving, along with much less fiber. Choosing juice with pulp helps, but even then, don’t expect the same benefits as with grapefruit itself.
A related issue is that it’s much easier to drink a glass of grapefruit juice than to eat a whole grapefruit. This makes it easy to consume more calories and sugar than you mean to – quite a lot more.
Grapefruit juice sounds like you’re simply getting fresh juice straight from a grapefruit. However, if you’re buying the juice in a grocery store, that won’t be true at all.
Instead, the juice will have gone through multiple processing steps. These may include steps to heat and sterilize the juice, which helps to make it last longer.
Each step has its own benefits and issues. For example, any type of heat treatment may help to kill bacteria, but can also impact the antioxidants in the juice.
Don’t forget that the juice often sits on the shelf for weeks (or much longer) before you ever drink it. There’s no way that it will ever contain the same concentration of antioxidants and other plant-based compounds that you get with fresh grapefruit juice.
How To Find Good Grapefruit Juice
Some of the benefits and risks of grapefruit juice relate to the type that you choose. The trick is to look for grapefruit just that relies almost entirely on grapefruit.
This is more difficult than you might think.
To begin with, make sure that the label says 100% juice. You’ll need to check the ingredients label too, as some products will use grape juice or something else to add sweetness.
Check for pulp as well. Juice that contains pulp will have much more fiber than juice without it. Unfortunately, many juices skip the pulp entirely.
It’s worth looking for additives as well. For example, some companies add artificial flavors to make the drink look better. Others may use preservatives to make the juice last longer.
Of course, the single best approach is to juice the grapefruit yourself. This way you get a fresh product and there’s no chance of any additives.
Grapefruit Juice Versus Orange Juice
Grapefruits and oranges are both citrus fruit, so they have plenty of similarities. There are some differences too, including the fact that oranges don’t have the same medication interactions that you find with grapefruit.
Grapefruit juice and orange juice both provide you with vitamin C and vitamin A. You get a little more vitamin C in orange juice, while grapefruits win out in terms of vitamin A. Orange juice also offers some folate, which you don’t find much of with grapefruit juice.
Orange juice does contain more calories and more sugar per serving. However, the differences often aren’t dramatic (as long as you choose brands that don’t rely on added sugar).
Finally, orange juice has one other advantage – it’s pretty easy to find straight orange juice that’s been minimally processed and has no added sugar. There are good brands for grapefruit juice out there too, but these tend to be harder to find.
While grapefruits themselves have clear benefits, the positive features of grapefruit juice are often overstated. Sure, you get some antioxidants, but you’re getting some sugar along the way too, more than you’d get from eating a grapefruit.
Antioxidants are common anyway. You can find them in plenty of foods and drinks, including brightly colored fruits and even coffee. Most of us don’t need more antioxidants to see health benefits.
Does this mean you should avoid grapefruit juice? Not at all.
It’s easy to get somewhat obsessional about your diet and think that all your food and drink choices need to be perfect. They don’t. The trick is to have a balanced diet overall, which includes relying on healthy whole foods and allowing space for some treats.
Besides, grapefruit isn’t just used to promote health. It’s also popular as a cocktail ingredient, like in the sea breeze cocktail, which uses cranberry juice as well.