Health Benefits of Grapefruit

I love eating grapefruit – with or without a little sugar.  In fact, I love drinking the juice of a grapefruit as well.  But, I definitely go through periods of eating grapefruits consistently.  I however struggle with MS and I have been searching the internet for foods that would not only be beneficial to my health, but combat other health issues that MS causes as well.  I grew up on a Citrus farm in southern California and spent the first half of my life enjoying not only the sun but picking fruit right off the trees.  I loved them and I never remembered having the aches, pains, cravings, fatigue, headaches, etc. that I have now.  I knew there had to be something that connected with how good I felt then. 

In doing research I was excited to learn what grapefruit could do for you.  Here is some of the initial information that I found.  Grapefruits are an effective blood sugar stabilizer. There are filled with a Flavonoid called Naringin this gives them their bitter taste. Although it can also be found in other citrus fruits none contain such high levels as grapefruits.  Naringin works in several ways that help your body.

  • Hunger Regulation -last longer between meals without food
  • Fewer Mood ups and downs throughout the day
  • A Leaner body
  • Stimulates the Liver – the bitter taste stimulates fat burning enzymes.
  • Improves Insulin Sensitivity – the bitter taste improves glucose tolerance.
  • Helps to Metabolize Fat

Research led by Dr. Ken Fujioka from the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic in California, has shown that people can lose weight eating grapefruits or drinking its juice. In a 12 week study, 100 participants ate what they normally ate each day and only slightly increased the amount of time they exercised. The participants were divided into three groups: one group drank 6 ounces of grapefruit juice before meals, one group ate half a grapefruit before meals, and one group did not eat or drink grapefruit juice. On average, the participants who ate grapefruit or drank grapefruit juice lost nearly 4 pounds, with many losing more than 10 pounds.

"The fruit's compounds aid in fat burning and stabilizing blood-sugar and insulin levels," says Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., author of "Doctor's Detox Diet". So it's a natural hunger-buster.

All of this was great, but not really what I was looking for.  As I continued to study the health benefits of grapefruit, here is some additional information that I learned and why I think it is important to eat it often.

 

Grapefruits have been around since the 18th century and yet their origins are not fully understood, what we do know is that, grapefruits are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals and researchers are continuously adding to grapefruit's long list of health benefits.

I was amazed when I found small bits of information that when put together with other bits really started to make sense as to why I felt so good when I was younger.  A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that drinking 2-4 cups daily of grapefruit, apple or orange juice reduced the risk of developing kidney stones. Drinking grapefruit juice is also an excellent way to detoxify the liver.  Another study that was published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry shows that grapefruits help repair damaged DNA in human prostate cancer cells. Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in the United States. The older men become the more times their cells divide. The more times their cells divide, the greater the chance of their DNA mutating. Grapefruits help the body repair the damaged DNA and protect the body from developing cancer.

 

Vitamin C

Grapefruit is bursting with vitamin C; just half of a grapefruit provides 46.86 mg, or 78.1 percent, of the recommended daily value. The World's Healthiest Foods lists grapefruit as, “an excellent source of this antioxidant, which supports cardiovascular health by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol. In addition, consuming vitamin C-rich foods supports the immune system, and leads to reduced risk of death from heart disease, cancer and stroke.”

Grapefruit helps keep your skin in top shape. "It's high in vitamin C," says Jessica Wu, M.D., "essential for producing healthy collagen, a protein that keeps your complexion plump and smooth." Aim to eat one grapefruit a day, Dr. Wu advises.

Use grapefruit to get rid of dark patches on your knees and elbows. "Grapefruit is loaded with vitamin C, a mild acid, which helps fade spots by reducing excess production of skin pigment," says Jessica Wu, M.D., a Los Angeles-based dermatologist.

Cut one in half, sprinkle on a teaspoon of sugar (a mild exfoliant), and rub over your skin. Skip your face, though -- grapefruit can irritate a sensitive complexion.

Grapefruits are an excellent source of vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to support the immune system and can help reduce cold symptoms or the severity of the cold symptoms. Vitamin C may also reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers have shown that eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.  

Carotenoids

The world’s healthiest food states “Carotenoids are plant-based compounds that may have disease-preventing properties, and grapefruit--especially pink and red--contains more than its share of them. Grapefruit has carotenoid phytonutrients, an antioxidant called lycopene, may have chemo protective effects. In a clinical study published in the March 2005 issue of "International Journal of Cancer," researchers found that prostate cancer risk declined with increased consumption of lycopene. According to Texas A & M University Extension, 3.5 ounces of pink grapefruit--about half of a small grapefruit--provides 3.36 mg of lycopene. Vitamin Herb University notes that estimating daily intake of lycopene is difficult due to variability in foods, but suggests most people consume from 3.7 to 6.5 mg per day.

Limonoids

According to the World’s healthiest food, “another group of beneficial phytonutrients, limonoids, is found in grapefruit. Limonoids help with detoxification by promoting the formation of an enzyme that helps cause toxins--including carcinogens-- to become more water-soluble, allowing them to be more easily flushed from the body.

Pectin Fiber

The world’s healthiest food also states, “The soluble pectin fiber contained in grapefruit may slow down the development of atherosclerosis. Eating grapefruit can lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol--considered the "bad," or harmful, cholesterol-- as well as your levels of triglycerides, a form of fat linked to heart disease. Some scientific evidence supports grapefruit's cholesterol-reducing properties. In a clinical study published in the 2006 issue of "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," researchers found that, although red grapefruit had higher antioxidant potential than white, both white and red grapefruit decreased serum lipid levels in coronary atherosclerosis patients. Although grapefruit is a good source of fiber, the fruit is low in calories, with a half of a grapefruit containing a modest 36 calories.

Vitamins and Minerals

Grapefruit is a source of vitamin A, delivering 318.57 IU--or 6.4 percent of the DV--per half. Vitamin A is necessary for healthy vision and for the maintenance of teeth and skeletal and soft tissue. The National Library of the U.S. Department of Agriculture lists a half of a grapefruit as providing 348 mg--or 3.5 of the DV--of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, needed by the body to metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates. The World's Healthiest Foods states that grapefruit is also a good source of foliate, or vitamin B9--crucial for brain function and for production of genetic material such as DNA and RNA-- as well as potassium, essential to heart function and smooth muscle contraction.

Homemade Cleaners

 

**Just juiced your fruit? "Use the extra pulp and rind to spruce up your bathroom," says Amy Todisco, author of Organic Food on a Budget. Dip the juiced half in a plate of sea salt, and then rub the grapefruit all over your bathroom fixtures, squeezing any leftover juice out as you go.
The citric acid in the fruit dissolves dirt and grime; the salt disinfects and scours. After scrubbing, rinse everything away.

 

While the information I found is by no means a guaranteed way to feel better, I know that by trying and experimenting with grapefruit your body will have positive effects.

Be warned, those taking pharmaceutical medications please beware of eating grapefruit as it has many drug interactions, check with your doctor before making them a daily part of your life.

Photo by: grapefruit_Barbara L. Hanson on Flickr