Grapefruit Nutrition Facts

Calories in Grapefruit and Their Health Benefits

grapefruit nutrition facts and health benefits

Photo: Alexandra Shytsman

Grapefruits are an 18th-century hybrid of the orange and pummelo (a large, coarse fruit mostly found in Middle and Far Eastern cuisines). White-fleshed and pink or ruby-fleshed grapefruits are two varieties that are typically available all year. Grapefruits are one of the lower carbohydrate containing fruits, half of a medium grapefruit contains fewer carbohydrates and sugar than a typical serving of fruit.

Grapefruit Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1/2 medium (approx 4" dia) (128 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 41 
Calories from Fat 1 
Total Fat 0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 0mg0%
Potassium 177.92mg5%
Carbohydrates 10.3g3%
Dietary Fiber 1.4g6%
Sugars 8.9g 
Protein 0.8g 
Vitamin A 24% · Vitamin C 73%
Calcium 2% · Iron 1%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

With virtually no fat and at only 41 calories for half the fruit, grapefruit is naturally sweet and flavorful to enjoy on its own. While flavorful and rich in vitamin A and C, it does not provide as much protein and fiber. If you're going for a grapefruit as a snack, pair with a protein or fiber-rich choice like yogurt or a small handful of nuts.

Health Benefits of Grapefruit 

Grapefruits are an excellent source of vitamin C (important for wound healing and iron absorption). Pink grapefruit also contains the antioxidant lycopene, which gives it its' beautiful pink hue.

Studies have shown that there is less risk of prostate cancer in people who eat diets rich in lycopene. Additionally, lycopene may increase HDL (healthy cholesterol) and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), this maybe why some research shows that eating grapefruit can help lower LDL cholesterol in the blood.

Grapefruits contain flavanones, a subclass of flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to exhibit antiinflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities through different mechanisms of action in vitro and in animal models.

Common Questions About Grapefruit

Can I eat grapefruit when I'm taking medications? You've probably heard before that you should avoid eating grapefruit if you are on lipid lowering (cholesterol lowering) medications called statins. In addition to having interactions with statins, eating grapefruits and drinking grapefruit juice can interact with numerous other medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.

Grapefruit contains a class of compounds called furanocoumarins, which act in the body to alter the characteristics of certain types of medications. Grapefruit may also be contraindicated with medications such as antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, thyroid replacement drugs, birth control, stomach acid-blocking drugs, and the cough suppressant dextromethorphan. Ingesting grapefruit with these medications can cause the body to metabolize these medicines abnormally. If you have any concerns, discuss your medicines with your doctor before consuming grapefruit.

Do the different varieties have different calories? You might see pink, white, or ruby red grapefruits available in the supermarket. The nutrition profiles between the different varieties are fairly similar in calories and macronutrients. There may be variations in antioxidant load based on color. In general, choose your favorite and enjoy!

Picking and Storing Grapefruit 

When shopping, look for grapefruit that has no green color left on the outside—this is an indicator of ripeness. Avoid fruit that has soft spots, or soggy areas. Skip grapefruits that have rough or wrinkled skin. Hold the grapefruit in your hand, it should feel heavier than it looks, a phrase often referred to as "heavier than it's size." This means that the grapefruit will be juicy.

If you plan on eating grapefruit right away, leave them out at room temperature. It is believed that grapefruit antioxidant content increases as they ripen, so eating a ripe one is ideal.

Grapefruit that is left to be eaten at a later time can be stored in the refrigerator.

Be sure to wash the skins of grapefruit before consumption as it can have some bacteria on the outside. Simply rinse with cold water and brush the outside with a vegetable brush.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Grapefruit 

White grapefruits produce the finest juice and pink fruits are sweeter. Try both and see which variety you like better.

Simply dig into your grapefruit with a spoon or use this fruit to add flavor, texture, and color to healthy recipes. Pair grapefruit with avocado and greens for a refreshing citrus salad, or chop up some grapefruit to make a sweet, tart relish for meats.

Grapefruit Recipes 

Many recipes with grapefruit, marry the beautiful heart-healthy avocado, with ruby-red grapefruit. The marriage is not only beautiful to look at, it is incredibly tasty. The creaminess of the avocado mixes perfectly with the sweet, sour flavor of the grapefruit. Give these recipes a try—you won't be disappointed.

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Article Sources
  • Begun, R. 5 Common Food-Drug Interactions. American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014. 
  • Labensky, SR, Hause, AM. On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003: 803-804. 
  • Linus Pauling Institute. Flavonoids