Grapefruit is a large orange-like fruit that belongs to the Rutaceae family, in the genus, Citrus. Other members of the genus include oranges, lemons, limes, pomelos, and mandarins (tangerines).
The grapefruit was first discovered in the forests of the Caribbean island, Barbados. Today, it is one of the widely cultivated fruits in the United States and China. Grapefruit got its name because it grows in clusters, like grapes.
There are three major types of grapefruit; White, Pink, and Red grapefruit varieties. All grapefruit have a tangy-sweet flavor and are very juicy.
Like other citrus fruits, grapefruit is loaded with many essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, etc. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the nutritional value of half of a pink/ red grapefruit (123g) is as shown below.
Grapefruits also contain small amounts of vitamin E, thiamin, folate, niacin, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, and pantothenic acid.
In addition to that, Grapefruit is packed with a powerful antioxidant called Lycopene and beta-carotene, along with the phytonutrients limonoids and naringenin. Here are 9 health benefits of grapefruit.
- Cancer Prevention
Grapefruits are packed with Lycopene, a carotenoid pigment that is responsible for the pink and red color of the grapefruit. (PLEASE NOTE: Lycopene is only found in pink and red grapefruit. White grapefruit does not provide this carotenoid). This powerful antioxidant acts as a scavenger of cancer-causing free radicals. An antioxidant compound, called naringenin, is also found in grapefruit. Naringenin stimulates DNA repair in prostate cancer cells and protects the body from developing cancer.
- Lower Cholesterol Levels
Grapefruit also contains a lot of soluble fiber pectin which has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. A recent study found that eating one red grapefruit a day can help to lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels by as much as 20 percent.
- Prevent stroke
According to the American Heart Association, eating citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit may lower ischemic stroke risk for women. A study showed that those who ate the highest amounts of citrus had a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke than women who consumed the least.
- Strengthens Immune System
Grapefruit is packed with flavonoids, a natural chemical compounds that have been found to strengthen immune system. They also have a good amount of vitamin C, which provides protection against immune system deficiencies.
- Helps in Losing Weight
Adding grapefruit to your diet can boost your metabolism and thus help in losing weight. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that obese people who ate half a grapefruit before each meal, without making any other dietary changes, lost an average of 3.5 pounds over 12 weeks.
- Reduces Kidney Stones Risk
Drink grapefruit juice can reduce your risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones. One study suggests that women who drink two to four cups of grapefruit, or orange juice daily are less likely to form calcium oxalate stones. This is because citrate binds with calcium in the urine, which reduces the amount of calcium available to form calcium oxalate stones.
- Prevents Arthritis
Grapefruit can prevent arthritis as it contains salicylic acid that helps break down the body’s inorganic calcium, which may lead to arthritis. If you have arthritis, try drinking grapefruit juice with apple cider vinegar. You will notice a reduction in your arthritis symptoms. In addition, Grapefruit seed extracts can even be added to water to make an antiseptic spray for treating bacterial and fungal infections.
- Fights Gum Disease
Eating grapefruit could also help fight gum disease. Researchers from the university of Friedrich-Schiller at Germany found that people with gum disease who ate two grapefruit a day for a fortnight showed significantly less bleeding from the gums. They believe this is due to an increase in blood levels of vitamin C, which is known to promote wound healing and cut damage by unstable free radical molecules.
- Aid digestion
As grapefruit contains a dietary fiber called pectin, it can also help to prevent constipation and promotes better digestion.
Be aware that grapefruit can enhance the effect of certain heart medications, such as statins and calcium channel blockers. If you’re on one of these drugs, check with your doctor before eating grapefruit or drinking the juice.