8 Impressive Health Benefits Of Grapefruit & Nutrition Facts 2023

Lindsey Jerke

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

grapefruit benefits

Grapefruit is a tropical citrus fruit known for its tart and sweet flavor. You may find many different color varieties ranging from pale yellow flesh to dark, blood-red colors. All varieties and products, such as grapefruit oil, can boost your health as part of a healthy diet. 

Grapefruit is an excellent source of Vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants while being low in calories and fat. Grapefruit boosts your immunity system, benefits heart health, and helps you maintain a healthy weight

Let’s dig into the juicy details of the benefits of grapefruit. 

8 Stunning Health Benefits Of Grapefruit

  1. Boost immunity
  2. Aid weight loss
  3. Improve cholesterol and blood pressure
  4. Contain powerful antioxidants
  5. Support gut health
  6. Prevent insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome
  7. Support skin health
  8. Improve sexual health

Nutrition Facts

Grapefruit can be described as a nutrient-dense food. It has a high water content compared to many fruits, clocking in at nearly 88% water. It is actually one of the largest citrus fruits in sheer size, so one-half of a grapefruit is considered one serving (but go ahead and eat the whole thing if you’d like!)

One half a grapefruit[1] provides

  • Calories: 51
  • Total fat: 0 grams
  • Total carbohydrate: 13 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 1.9 grams
  • Total sugars: 8.5 grams
  • Protein: 0.9 grams

Four ounces or ½ cup of grapefruit juice[2] has similar calories, carbohydrates, and total sugar content compared to fresh fruit. However, juice does not the fiber that raw fruit contains. 

The nutritional star of grapefruit is its Vitamin C[3] content. It is an excellent source, and just one-half of a grapefruit provides over 40% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C. So, eat whole fruit, and you’ve met almost half of your daily needs for this essential nutrient. 

Grapefruit is also a surprisingly good source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, and some B vitamins. The beta-carotene is responsible for the color, so the benefit of red grapefruit is larger amounts of Vitamin A.

Health Benefits Of Eating Grapefruit

Like many fruits, grapefruit is a great choice as part of a healthy diet that can provide some unique health benefits.

Boost Immunity

The vitamin C content of grapefruit makes it a mighty immunity booster. So, in those months of the year when illness is on the rise, it can be valuable to ward off viruses and bacteria. 

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, and research shows[4] people who regularly do not get enough are more likely to get infections such as the common cold. However, boosting your Vitamin C intake during an illness may not be as effective[5]

Grapefruit also contains a good amount of beta-carotene, which gets converted to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is an important compound in immune system functioning. It also plays a role[6] in the integrity of physical barriers to germs, including your skin and mucosal barriers in the nose and eyes.

Aid Weight Loss

Have you heard of the grapefruit diet? The main tenant of this diet plan that has been a fad diet for many decades is the magic of fat-burning enzymes found in grapefruit that would melt away fat.

The science on the fat-burning powers of grapefruit is mixed, but fresh grapefruit does have a place in a calorie-restricted diet. Its high water and fiber content are excellent for helping you feel full while limiting total energy intake.

A 2011 clinical study[7] tested the effects of consuming grapefruit before a meal combined with a calorie-restricted diet and found subjects consumed 20% fewer calories overall. However, drinking water before a meal was found to be just as effective as consuming grapefruit, so the high water content of grapefruit is clearly a key.

Unfortunately, the natural sugar content of grapefruit excludes it from some currently popular low-carbohydrate diets. Grapefruit is not ketogenic if this is a diet plan you are following. 

Improve Cholesterol And Blood Pressure

Risk factors for heart disease are often researched together with obesity. Some studies[8] have observed modest improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels in people who eat grapefruit. 

The explanation for how grapefruit may improve cholesterol is up for debate. 

The dietary fiber content of grapefruit is one theory. Dietary fiber can significantly[9] lower cholesterol levels and improve heart disease risk. So, could it be the fiber in grapefruit? Older studies[10] found positive results. 

More recent theory suggests it could be the flavonoids in grapefruit. Naringenin is a powerful flavonoid that may play a big role in grapefruit’s effects on cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. Some animal studies[9] have supported this theory. However, human research has been mixed[11].

Overall, research quality in this area is lacking to make definitive conclusions on how grapefruit may improve heart disease risk factors. What we do know is an observed association among people who eat grapefruit. 

Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Besides effects on cholesterol, research has shown naringenin can have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects. Research has been promising on the effects of naringenin on diseases such as cancer[12].

Some studies indicate flavonoids are most concentrated in the grapefruit peel. Therefore, the benefits of grapefruit peel as well as the flesh, should not be underestimated. Most people don’t enjoy the bitterness of the peel, but extracts and supplements can be made using the peel to still get the benefits!  

Furthermore, research has also determined[13] the flavonoids in citrus fruits such as grapefruit are easily absorbed and thus can have remarkably effective actions in our biological systems. 

Support Gut Health

Eating enough fiber is essential to gut health. Fiber helps keep bowel movements regular and prevents diseases such as diverticulosis or irritable bowel syndrome. 

One serving of grapefruit packs a good amount of fiber at nearly four grams and over 10% of the recommended daily fiber intake. You’ll benefit most from eating whole fruit versus drinking grapefruit juice. 

Research has also indicated that fruit fiber[14], in particular, may contribute to emerging benefits, including preventing certain cancers such as colon cancer. Fiber from fruit is an important source of prebiotics, supporting healthy gut bacteria growth. 

Prevent Insulin Resistance And Metabolic Syndrome

The bioactive plant compounds in grapefruit may also play a role in preventing insulin resistance, the development of metabolic syndrome, and eventually, type 2 diabetes. 

A trial[15] in 2006 had subjects divided into groups that consumed a combination of grapefruit capsules, grapefruit juice, or fresh grapefruit in different combinations for 12 weeks. Fresh grapefruit consumption was associated with a reduction in post-meal glucose levels and improved insulin resistance.

It is hypothesized that the flavonoids in grapefruit may also be responsible, but more research is needed to confirm the benefits of grapefruit for insulin resistance. 

Support Skin Health

Grapefruit also has many benefits for your skin health. When you drink grapefruit juice or eat fresh grapefruit, you will get the benefits that will help your skin glow. The high water content is excellent for healthy skin, and the antioxidants, including Vitamin C and Vitamin A, will help fight skin aging.

As a topical treatment, grapefruit extracts can effectively reduce redness and inflammation[16] while acting as a great exfoliator. Grapefruit is a natural source of alpha hydroxy acid and citric acid, a natural exfoliator. They also can improve skin brightness and fine lines or wrinkles. 

Finally, the combination of Vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acids in grapefruit is an excellent boost for collagen production, which relies on both of these compounds. Collagen is an essential protein and building block for your skin, so promoting collagen production means improved tone and texture for your skin. 

Improve Sexual Health

Men who take Viagra for sexual dysfunction may find that eating grapefruit will help with the absorption of the drug making it more effective in stimulating blood flow to the penis. Grapefruit also has a lot of antioxidants and folic acid, which help with the male reproductive system. Vitamin C found in grapefruit can even boost sperm count.

In women, grapefruit can increase estrogen[17], which in turn can increase libido[18]. In addition, the vitamin C in grapefruit can assist in removing toxins from the body, thus improving fertility. The benefits of grapefruit sexually are not widely known, but they exist nevertheless.

Potential Side Effects: Who Should Avoid?

Consuming grapefruit regularly is a generally safe and positive option as part of a healthy eating plan. However, there are a few situations in which some may want to use caution or talk with a health professional first. 

Grapefruit And Medication Interactions

Medication interactions are a significant red flag for those who are on certain heart medications. Unfortunately, grapefruit juice and medications don’t always mix. 

Most doctors and pharmacists recommend for those on cholesterol-lowering medications to avoid consuming grapefruit[19]. Research has indicated that eating grapefruit products can decrease the effectiveness of the medication. In some cases, that could mean life or death.

Cholesterol-lowering medication is not the only interaction concern. Grapefruit interacts with a number of medications[20], both prescription and over-the-counter. This includes high blood pressure medication, pain medications, anti-seizure drugs, and even meds to fight cancer.

Research on the subject is somewhat inconclusive[21] but has been enough for it to be general practice to avoid grapefruit. This includes all types of grapefruit products, such as grapefruit juice, whole grapefruit, or grapefruit extracts. 

Poor Tooth Enamel

Those with weakened tooth enamel or sensitivity may need to be cautious of highly acidic foods such as grapefruit. Anytime citric acid comes in contact with your teeth, it can cause tooth enamel erosion. 

If this is your concern, avoid eating the grapefruit directly from the rind with your teeth, as this puts your teeth in prolonged contact with the acidic juices. Try drinking grapefruit juice with a straw to limit contact with your teeth, or consider choosing other fruits in your diet.

Kidney Stones

Finally, grapefruit is a high oxalate food. For a small group of people prone to kidney stones, oxalates are one of the common calcium oxalate stones. According to the National Kidney Foundation[22], you do not need to avoid grapefruit for this reason, but it should be consumed as part of a meal to limit risk.  

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

More commonly known as heartburn, GERD is a condition that is often worsened when eating highly acidic foods. Foods high in acid will increase stomach acid content and aggravate the condition. What foods trigger heartburn can be different for every person, but general advice[23] includes avoidance of acidic foods such as grapefruit if needed. If you suffer from GERD and decide to eat grapefruit, it may be smart to consume only a small amount at first to determine how it may affect you. 

How To Eat?

The tangy taste of fresh grapefruit is a refreshing treat for just about any time. 

Eat Fresh Grapefruit

grapefruit benefits

The most common way to eat fresh grapefruit is to cut it in half and scoop the sections with a special spoon with a serrated edge. A normal spoon will do just fine if you don’t have a special grapefruit spoon. It can also be peeled like oranges and eaten as grapefruit slices.

Grapefruit Juice

grapefruit benefits

Is drinking grapefruit juice as beneficial as eating whole fruit? Grapefruit juice is a popular way to consume grapefruit and has many benefits in terms of vitamins and minerals. However, much of the fiber and potentially some of the antioxidants are lost in processing the fruit into juice. 

Grapefruit Smoothies

grapefruit benefits

Besides simply eating the whole fruit or drinking juice, grapefruit can be used in smoothies, salads, or other sweet recipes for a tart twist. 

The Bottom Line

Like many fresh fruits and vegetables, grapefruit is a great addition to a balanced diet. Its Vitamin C content and flavanoids are grapefruit’s star qualities that can improve your immunity, protect against some risk factors for heart disease and the effects of aging, and help maintain a healthy weight. If you have a medical condition and are being treated with medication, talk with your doctor or registered dietitian first about eating grapefruit and any potential drug-nutrient interactions. 

+ 23 sources

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Lindsey Jerke

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Lindsey Jerke has over 10 years of experience as a registered dietitian working in the clinical setting and now in the food industry in regulatory compliance.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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