Healthy Living

The Benefits of Grapefruit, the "Fruit of Paradise"

The Benefits of Grapefruit, the "Fruit of Paradise"

Grapefruit is a very tangy, citrus fruit that looks just like an orange but is not as sweet. Grapefruit was named for the way it grows (in bunches, just like grapes). The fruit has a fleshy interior that is often red, white, or pink in color.

Grapefruit is a new radial fruit that developed naturally through cross-pollination of the pomelo and orange. The size of a grapefruit can range from 4 to 6 inches in diameter. It is rich in nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, making it one of the healthiest citrus fruits you could ever eat. You can decide to reap the benefits of grapefruit by eating the fruit itself, drinking grapefruit juice, or consuming its seed extracts and essential oil.

How to cut a grapefruit

To eat grapefruit, you first have to know how to cut it.

  • First, wash your fruit thoroughly.
  • Place the fruit down and make a cross-sectional cut so you have two halves.
  • Place the pieces on a plate and then cut all way round in each section (cut between the membranes).
How to eat a grapefruit

Once you have cut your grapefruit, it is ready for you to eat. You can use a spoon to scoop out each section and put it in your mouth. You can sprinkle sugar on top of your fruit to make it sweeter.

Grapefruit Nutrition

Grapefruit is a fruit that is rich in many nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, and electrolytes. This is what makes grapefruit the "fruit from paradise”.

Below is a list of nutrients present in 100 grams of grapefruit and RDA (recommended daily allowance) percentage they represent:

  • Energy - Grapefruit has 42 calories (about 2.3%).
  • Carbohydrates - About 10.7 grams (about 8%) 
  • Proteins - 0.77 grams (1%). 
  • Fat - 0.14 grams (less than 1%)
  • Dietary fiber - 1.70 grams (about 4%)

Other nutrients present in grapefruit include:

  • Vitamin A- 38%
  • Vitamin C- 52%
  • Vitamin E- 1%
  • Pyridoxin
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Riboflavin
  • Folates
  • Lycopene
  • Carotene- ß
  • Crypro-xanthin- ß
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium

What are the Benefits of Grapefruit?

Due to the variety of nutrients in grapefruit, it has a number of benefits you should know about:

  • Weight loss - Eating grapefruit before meals can help you lose weight. Grapefruit is low in calories but high in nutrients. Eating the whole fruit will give you a lot of fiber and promote stomach fullness, both of which prevent high calorie intake. The fruit is also believed to have fat-burning enzymes that get rid of sugars and starch in the body.
  • Cholesterol reduction - According to recent studies, grapefruit contains pectin, which helps in controlling cholesterol levels. Reducing cholesterol can help get rid of obesity and other diseases associated with it.
  • Get rid of insomnia - Insomnia is a problem that involves lack of sleep especially during the night. Grapefruit contains a chemical called lycopene, which can help you get sleep. Lycopene elevates the levels of the sleep hormone serotonin.
  • Cure scanty urination - Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C and potassium, both of which can help get rid of scanty urination caused by heart, kidney, and liver disorders. These two components help in flushing out impurities in the blood, hence optimizing the function of the bladder and kidney.
  • Cancer prevention - Grapefruit is very rich in flavonoids such as naringenin, which is very important in the DNA repair of cancer-damaged cells. These flavonoids are also very important in getting rid of free radicals such as ROS, which might damage healthy cells, hence causing cancer. Vitamin C is also another antioxidant component of grapefruit that helps get rid of free radicals that may cause cancer.
  • Lower diabetes risk - Grapefruit can be used to cut down the levels of starches and sugars in the body. This can help get rid of type 2 diabetes, which is brought about by an increased blood sugar level.
  • Hydration - Hydration is one of the major health benefits of grapefruit. It is among the most hydrating fruits in the world. It is made up of about 91% water and full of essential electrolytes that can help you prevent dehydration.
  • Prevention of kidney stones - Kidney stones, which are mainly made of calcium, can be disintegrated by grapefruit juice chemicals. Drinking up to 1 liter of grapefruit juice daily can help you prevent and also get rid of kidney stones.
  • Prevent atherosclerosis - The presence of pectin in grapefruit juice can help prevent the accumulation of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in the arteries. Accumulated fats and cholesterol in the arteries may cause artery blockage.
  • Prevent inflammation - The fruit is high in flavonones, which have an anti-inflammatory effect and has been regarded as helpful in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reduce acidity in the body - Its acidic content increases the alkaline reaction after digestion. It helps in preventing acid formation and thus many diseases arising from excess acidity in the body. 
  • Cures coughs and sore throats - The vitamin C in grapefruit helps shorten the duration of sore throats and coughs. 

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Grapefruit seed extract is a substance that contains major compounds known as polyphenols, which have the ability to destroy infection-causing agents. Examples of polyphenols extracted from the seeds of a grapefruit are naringenin and limonoids. These two compounds act as antimicrobials and antioxidants that not only kill microorganisms but also protect your body tissue from reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Grapefruit seed extract can be prepared in different concentrations, dosages, and delivery forms. You can decide to use the extract in liquid or capsule form, depending on whether your infection is internal or external. Grapefruit seed extract can also be used as an antimicrobial and preservative agent in natural home care products and as a food preservative in the food industry.

Other health-related products that use grapefruit extract include:

  • Ear drops
  • Throat antiseptics for sore throats and colds
  • Sinus/nasal washes to treat sinusitis and colds
  • Mouthwashes to treat or prevent dental and gum diseases
  • Wound sprays and washes
  • Fruit and vegetable washes
  • Treatments for digestive disturbances such as candida and traveller’s diarrhea
Side effects of grapefruit seed extract

Just like other grapefruit products, grapefruit seed extract can cause a number of side effects in your body. They include:

  • Poor interactions with some drugs, possibly leading to low or high concentrations of a drug in the bloodstream. This can lead to an overdose or underdose of a drug.
  • This extract can also cause skin irritation when used in high concentrations. Grapefruit seed extract should be used in low concentrations. Also, contact with eyes or other sensitive body parts should be avoided.
  • When used internally for a long time, this extract can deplete the normal flora in the gastrointestinal tract.

Grapefruit Essential Oil

Grapefruit essential oil is oil that is extracted from the outer skin of a citrus x paradise or grapefruit. The best quality grapefruit essential oil is mainly extracted through compression. No chemical or heat is used in the extraction of this oil so as to preserve the integrity and efficacy of its volatile components. The major components of grapefruit essential oil are:

  • Limonene- It constitutes about 95% of the oil.
  • Myrcene
  • Alpha pinene
  • Geraniol
  • Sabinene
  • Linalool
  • Citronellol

This oil has a citrusy aroma that is best described as refreshing, sweet, and tangy.

The phytochemical in this essential oil displays powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, diuretic, disinfectant, antiseptic, and tonic properties. All these properties should tell you just how beneficial this oil is to your health.

Health benefits

Health benefits of this oil are mainly due to its properties such as its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, diuretic, disinfectant, antiseptic and tonic properties. Such benefits include:

  • Disinfectant - Grapefruit essential oil has antimicrobial and antiviral properties that make it a perfect disinfectant. It does not only protect your body against new infections but also gets rid of infections that are already in the body. This oil is very effective in the treatment of colon, stomach, kidney, and urinary tract infections. This essential oil can also be beneficial in the treatment of oral, ocular, and skin infections.
  • Antioxidant - Just like a fresh grapefruit, this essential oil is rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The combination of ascorbic acid and other antioxidant components of this oil can help boost your immune system, thus fighting the activity of free radicals. This oil is also very effective in protecting your body against harmful substances such as toxins and oxidants. Toxins and oxidants can cause loss of vision, premature aging, muscular degeneration, physical and mental sluggishness, tissue degeneration, and nervous disorders if left to accumulate.
  • Antiseptic - The antiseptic property of this essential oil makes it a perfect oil to apply on wounds, bruises, acne, and cuts to help protect against microbial infections. Like other antiseptics, grapefruit essential oil can prevent your wound from becoming septic or developing tetanus.
  • Appetite loss - In case you want to eat little food but have a large appetite, this essential oil will do you good. You do not have to take this oil before every meal. A regular daily dose of it can help decrease your appetite for your weight management plan.
  • Antidepressant - Just like other citrus fruit essential oils, grapefruit essential oil has a relaxing and uplifting effect on your mind. It helps induce positive feelings, which can act as a cure for stress, depression, and anxiety. This effect comes from both the aroma and hormones present in the oil.
  • Stimulant - This essential oil can help stimulate both your mind and body in different ways. This oil stimulates your nervous system by making it active. It also stimulates the endocrine system, promoting the proper secretion of enzymes and hormones that make your metabolism function well. The digestive system benefits from the oil as well, as it stimulates the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach and bile in the duodenum. The essential oil also stimulates other physiological systems such as the excretory, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.
  • Diuretic - The diuretic properties of this oil can help keep your body light and free from any toxins simply by promoting the urination process. The oil also helps in the removal of excess fats, water, uric acid, and sodium from the body, helping to keep your heart healthy by reducing blood pressure. Urinating frequently can also help keep your urinary tract free from infections. The oil helps clean the kidneys of all uric and calcareous deposits, which helps keep away renal calculi and other kidney problems.
  • Tonic - Grapefruit essential oil can help tone every organ system of your body. It helps tone the hair follicles, making your hair look strong and healthy. The oil also helps tone the liver, improving its secretion and detoxification functions. In addition, the oil can also help tone other systems such as the digestive, nervous, excretory, and circulatory systems.


Grapefruit Juice

Grapefruit juice is the liquid sap taken from grapefruit flesh through compression. Grapefruit juice contains a lot of nutrients, making the fruit a highly healthful one. The taste of the juice can range from sour to sweet depending on the color or variety of the grapefruit. Drinking a cup of grapefruit juice before meals can help reduce appetite and also improve insulin resistance. Grapefruit juice usually does not help you lose weight. Rather, it helps you stick to your weight loss plan.

The benefits of drinking grapefruit juice are the same as those that come from eating the flesh of the fruit. (See "What Are the Benefits of Grapefruit?" above.)  

The Grapefruit Diet

The grapefruit diet is a protein-rich meal plan whose major focus is the consumption of grapefruit juice or grapefruit at every meal. The grapefruit diet's major goal is quick weight loss that can be achieved through a 12-day plan. There exist several types of grapefruit diets, but the majority of them have a calorie intake of about 1000 calories or fewer.

Under the guidelines of the diet, various kinds of food can be mixed in different proportions with any amount of spices, butter, salad, and dressings.

These are good examples of grapefruit diet meals:

  • A breakfast composed of 2 slices of bacon, 2 boiled eggs, and 8 ounces of grapefruit juice.
  • A lunch made of any amount of meat of any kind, salad with dressing, and about 8 ounces of grapefruit juice
  • A dinner composed of any type of meat cooked in any way, green vegetables or salad, tea or coffee, and 8 ounces of grapefruit juice
  • A bedtime snack of 8 ounces of skim milk
Advantages and disadvantages of the grapefruit diet

The major advantage of the grapefruit diet is its results. Many people especially celebrities have found the weight loss outcomes of this diet very encouraging, especially when they are preparing for special events that require them look their best. Using this type of diet can also be a very effective way to kickstart weight loss before switching to a proper weight loss program to follow after the 12 days are over.

Incorporating highly nutritious and low-calorie foods like grapefruit in your diet is a wise and healthy choice not only to achieve weight loss but also for overall body health. The ascorbic acid found in grapefruit protects and boosts your immune system.

There are those who counter that grapefruit enzymes being effective in fat burning has not been scientifically proven. However, the core of this diet is the low-carb and low-calorie intake that would result in a quick and temporary weight loss even if grapefruit were absent. Weight loss of about 10 pounds in only 2 weeks is unrealistic and likely to include loss of some fat, water, and muscles.

Despite the fact that fresh grapefruit and grapefruit juice help form a healthy and balanced diet, the FDA claims that grapefruit can interfere with some medications, such as:

  • Immunosuppression drugs used in organ transplants
  • Some antihistamines such as Allegra
  • Antiarrhythmia drugs such as amiodarone
  • Blood pressure drugs such as nifedipine
  • Statin drugs such as pravastatin, simvastatin, and atorvastatin
  • Some antianxiety drugs such as buspirone

Grapefruit products tend to interrupt the action of the above-named medications. For example, if you take statins together with grapefruit juice, you will increase the absorption of the drug in your bloodstream. The increase of statin concentration in your bloodstream can raise your risk of developing complications such as kidney and liver problems.

Grapefruit juice can also alter the absorption of antihistamine by reducing the amount of the drug that is absorbed in the bloodstream. This can, in turn, reduce the effectiveness of the antihistamine. You should therefore consult your doctor or pharmacist if you intend to eat fresh grapefruit or drink its juice while taking your prescribed drugs.

Another disadvantage of the grapefruit diet is the limitations it has. Being on the restrictive grapefruit diet for 2 weeks is possible, but taking the same food daily can make some people abandon the plan.

Does the grapefruit diet work?

Yes, this diet works simply because it has a calorie restriction and does not have much to do with the calories in grapefruit itself. Since grapefruit has a host of health benefits, it can be incorporated in any diet. However, the cutting of calories is the major key to weight loss while on a grapefruit diet.

Grapefruit diets promise quick and tangible results; one can lose as much as 10 pounds in 2 weeks. This is due to the fat-burning enzymes present in grapefruit. Weight loss is achieved without starvation and with you eating your normal meals at normal times.