Could Grapefruit Benefit Weight Loss? Science Has the Answer

Could Grapefruit Benefit Weight Loss? Science Has the Answer

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Grapefruit benefits are so vast, that the fruit may just become your new main squeeze (we had to!). Though its sour taste may dissuade you, research shows that adding the citrus to your menu may boost your immune system, support weight loss, and even keep you regular.

Meet the Expert: Valerie Agyeman, R.D., is a dietitian and the host of women’s health podcast, Flourish Heights.

If you’ve written the fruit off as too bitter to enjoy, it’s time to give it another try. Newer varieties of grapefruit, like the Rio Red, are sweeter and much more palatable than the bitter bombs of yore. But, before adding it to your menu, it’s important to note that grapefruit can interfere with some medications (particularly cholesterol and diabetes drugs) so be sure to consult a healthcare provider to learn more about interactions.

Grapefruit benefits

No matter the color, all grapefruit may provide the following potential benefits to boost health, according to science and a dietitian.

1. Provide nutrients

Grapefruit packs a nutritional punch for its low-calorie load. It’s dense in nutrients, loading in plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients, including vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. Plus, its calorie count lends well to a low-calorie diet.

2. Boost Immune System

Because grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, they may provide powerful antioxidants that are great for your immune system and may help you fight off viruses and bacteria that can cause disease, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

3. Support weight loss

Want a formula for helping you feel fuller for longer? Look to grapefruit, which is low in calories while high in water and fiber content. “Eating grapefruit before meals may aid in weight loss by promoting fullness and reducing calorie intake,” says Valerie Agyeman, R.D., dietitian and host of women’s health podcast, Flourish Heights. But, it won’t make you lose weight. “Some people suggest that grapefruit can burn fat, but research simply does not support this claim.” Can’t stomach eating the fruit itself? Then try drinking a glass of the juice. “A small study found that participants who consumed about half a cup of grapefruit juice as a pre-meal snack reported a significant decrease in appetite,” adds Agyeman.

4. Curb blood sugar spikes

Because grapefruit is high in fiber, while relatively low in carbohydrates, it slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This citrus fruit has a low glycemic index (GI) so it won’t raise blood sugar as quickly or as much, compared to high-GI foods.

5. Help heart health

According to the American Heart Association, this citrus may be good for the heart. One reason: Grapefruit contains natural plant compounds called phytochemicals, specifically flavonoids. Studies have shown that these flavonoids may help combat stroke and heart disease.

6. Improve cholesterol levels

Studies have shown that red grapefruit in particular may play a role in improving cholesterol levels, especially if you eat the grapefruit peeled like an orange and consume the pectin-rich membranes. One study observed improvements in those consuming grapefruit, with total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein decreasing by -11.7 mg/dL and -18.7 mg/dL, respectively, compared with baseline values.

7. Act as a good source of antioxidants

Eating grapefruit can combat cell damage. “You get antioxidant power from lycopene, a natural, nutritious compound also found in tomatoes and watermelon,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Antioxidants help reduce wear and tear on our cells and may even help prevent serious diseases such as cancer.”

8. Hydrate

Getting enough hydration is essential to overall health. “A medium-sized grapefruit is made up of about 88% water which can help contribute towards adequate hydration,” according to Agyeman.

9. Boost skin health

Get that glow from grapefruit. A half of a grapefruit contains more than 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which is beneficial to skin in many ways—including stimulating the production of collagen, assisting with wound healing, and minimizing raised scar formation, according to a study.

10. Keep you regular

Prunes aren’t the only remedy for constipation. “A medium-sized grapefruit provides 2 grams of fiber,” says Agyeman. “That can help contribute towards keeping your bowel movements regular.” Grapefruit also contains a specific flavonoid called naringenin (which gives this citrus fruit its bitterness). Research shows that naringenin induces laxative effects.

11. Could help prevent kidney stones

The mouth-puckering tartness of grapefruit just might be good for you. Some studies have shown that the citric acid in grapefruit may help prevent kidney stones. However, another found that grapefruit can increase the risk. So seek advice from a healthcare provider if you are prone to developing kidney stones.

Grapefruit nutrition

A half of a grapefruit, according to the USDA, contains around 64.7 kcal; 1.19 g protein, 0.216 g fat, 16.4 g carbohydrates, 2.46 g fiber, and 10.6 g sugar.

Does drinking grapefruit juice provide the same benefits?

Grapefruit juice can have some benefits, but, in general, consuming the fruit is preferable. “Drinking juice is an easy way to obtain nutrients found in whole fruit,” says Agyeman, “but it’s not a replacement.” Eating the fruit itself comes with a load of extra perks. “Certain parts of a whole grapefruit, like the peel or pulp, contain higher levels of fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients that may be lost when the fruit is juiced,” according to Agyeman.

What to avoid when eating grapefruit

Before incorporating grapefruit or grapefruit juice into your diet, check with a healthcare provider. Grapefruit contains an enzyme that may block the breakdown of some medications, which can lead to a build-up of the medication in your bloodstream. Even a small amount of grapefruit or its juice may have this effect. So be sure to check with a pharmacist and your doctor before adding the fruit to your routine.

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