Grapefruit Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

grapefruit

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Grapefruit is a hybrid of the orange and the pummelo that originated in Barbados in the 18th century. Today, the subtropical fruit can be found year-round in most grocery stores. The inside may be white, pink, or ruby. The bright yellow skin can range from relatively thin to thick.

Many people choose to eat halved grapefruit raw and dusted with sugar or honey. But it can also be grilled, broiled, or served as a dessert in a variety of recipes. Grapefruit can be added to salads, salsas, or sliced and used to top fish. Because it is low in calories and very high in vitamin C, grapefruit can be a smart addition to your diet.

Grapefruit Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one half of a raw, medium, pink or red grapefruit (123g) measuring approximately 3 3/4" in diameter.

  • Calories: 52
  • Fat: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 8.5g
  • Protein: 0.9g

Carbs

Grapefruit is a low-carb fruit. Half of a medium-sized grapefruit contains fewer carbohydrates and sugar than a typical serving of fruit.

According to USDA data, there are about 13 grams of carbs in a half grapefruit. Most of the carbohydrate comes from naturally-occurring sugar (8.5g). There are also 2 grams of fiber in a half grapefruit.

The glycemic load of half a grapefruit (without any added sugar or honey) is estimated to be 4.

Fats

There is almost no fat in grapefruit. One half of a medium grapefruit has approximately 0.2g of fat.

Protein

There is less than one gram of protein in half a grapefruit.

Vitamins and Minerals

Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, providing nearly 64% of your daily needs in a single serving. It's also an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 28% of your daily needs.

Grapefruit provides small amounts of certain minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Health Benefits

The vitamins in grapefruit provide several health benefits.

Wound Healing

Vitamin C is necessary for wound healing in the body. Both animal and human studies have shown that tissue repair and wound repair happens faster with vitamin C supplementation. But researchers are not sure if this benefit applies to those who are not deficient in the vitamin.

Promote Eye Health

Vitamin A, found in grapefruit, is important for normal vision. Vitamin A may also play a role in the management of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Studies have shown that taking supplements containing vitamin A, vitamin C, and other nutrients can reduce the risk of developing advanced AMD by 25%.

Other experts have investigated dietary sources of key nutrients important for eye health. In one published study, grapefruit and grapefruit juice were listed as key dietary sources. 

May Help Prevent Cancer

Pink grapefruit contains the antioxidant lycopene, which gives it its beautiful pink hue. A 2015 study suggested that eating a lycopene-rich diet may decrease prostate cancer risk. But the topic of vitamin C and cancer prevention has been hotly debated and researchers are not sure if vitamin C supplements or consuming more vitamin C foods can really provide this benefit.

Supports Heart Heath

Research has shown that eating grapefruit is associated with lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and increased HDL ("good") cholesterol levels in the blood. It may also help to lower blood pressure in overweight adults.

Researchers who study cardiovascular risk disease factors have investigated grapefruit consumption along with the consumption of other fruits like blueberries, pomegranate, and apples. In a published review, study authors concluded that other fruits were associated with greater benefits with regards to heart health, but that fruit consumption, in general, is likely to help modulate related conditions such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, and overweight/obesity.

Reduce Inflammation

Grapefruits contain flavanones which are a subclass of flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities.

Allergies

There are reports of citrus allergy, but the condition is considered to be uncommon. So while grapefruit allergies are possible, but not likely. If you have an allergy to citrus you should avoid grapefruit.

Adverse Effects

You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice if you take lipid-lowering (cholesterol-lowering) medications called statins. These may include medications such as Zocor (simvastatin) or Lipitor (atorvastatin).

Compounds found in grapefruit can interact with the enzymes in your intestines that help your body absorb some types of statins. The interference can affect the levels of statin medications in your blood.

Medication Interactions

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), grapefruit and grapefruit juice can also interfere with other prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Grapefruit contains a class of compounds called furanocoumarins, which act in the body to alter the characteristics of certain types of medications. Grapefruit may be contraindicated with medications such as antihistamines, thyroid replacement drugs, birth control, stomach acid-blocking drugs, and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan.

Additionally, blood pressure medications Procardia and Adalat CC (both nifedipine) may interact with grapefruit. Anti-anxiety drugs such as buspirone, corticosteroids, and certain organ-transplant rejection drugs may also become less effective if you consume grapefruit.

Ingesting grapefruit with these medications can cause the body to metabolize the medicines abnormally. If you take any medications, ask your doctor if it's safe to make grapefruit a regular part of your diet.

Varieties

Grapefruit varieties include pink, white, or ruby red. Ruby red is the most common and easy to find. They are known for their milder taste and bright red interior color.

Pink grapefruit is also common, but not as sweet. White grapefruit has a pale, yellow color on the outside and a pinkish, whitish inside. White grapefruits produce the finest juice.

In terms of calories and macronutrients, the nutrition profiles are similar for grapefruits of any hue.

When It’s Best

Grapefruit season runs from October through June. But you can find grapefruit in most grocery stores year-round.

When shopping, look for grapefruit that has no green color left on the outside. Avoid fruit that has soft spots or soggy areas. Skip grapefruits that have rough or wrinkled skin.

As a general rule of thumb, a grapefruit that looks heavier for its size will be juicy. As you hold the grapefruit in your hand, it should feel heavier than it looks.

It's believed that the antioxidant content of citrus fruit increases as it ripens, so choosing a fully-ripe grapefruit is ideal.

Storage and Food Safety

If you plan on eating your grapefruit right away, leave it out at room temperature. If you're saving it for later, it's fine to store grapefruit in the refrigerator.

Place the fruit in a plastic bag and place it in the crisper compartment. Refrigerated, whole grapefruit can stay fresh for up to six weeks.

Grapefruit can be frozen, but it is best to remove the fruit sections and place them in a freezer-safe container rather than freezing the whole fruit. Frozen grapefruit should stay good for up to a year if properly frozen.

Like many citrus fruit rinds, grapefruit peel is safe to consume. It even contains some fiber and other nutrients. You'll want to wash the fruit before consumption as it may contain bacteria or debris. Simply rinse the fruit with cold water and brush the outside with a vegetable brush.

How to Prepare

Grapefruit makes a great snack or part of a meal. If you pair the fruit with a protein or fiber-rich side such as yogurt or a small handful of nuts, you can make a more filling snack.

The easiest way to eat is to dig in with a spoon, but you can also use grapefruit to add flavor, texture, and color to sweet and savory recipes.

Trying pairing grapefruit with avocado and greens for a refreshing citrus salad, or chop up some grapefruit to make a sweet, tart relish for meats.

Many recipes combine heart-healthy avocado with ruby-red grapefruit. The pairing is beautiful to look at and nutritious. It's also incredibly tasty, as the creaminess of the avocado mixes perfectly with the sweet, sour flavor of the grapefruit.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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