10 Science-Based Benefits of Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a tropical citrus fruit known for its sweet and somewhat sour taste.

It’s rich in nutrients, antioxidants and fiber, making it one of the healthiest citrus fruits you can eat.

Research shows that it may have some powerful health benefits, including weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Here are 10 evidence-based health benefits of grapefruit.

1. It’s Low in Calories, Yet High in Nutrients

Young Woman Holding Half a Grapefruit-in-Each-Hand

Grapefruit is an incredibly healthy food to include in your diet. That’s because it’s high in nutrients, but low in calories. In fact, it’s one of the lowest-calorie fruits.

It provides a decent amount of fiber, in addition to more than 15 beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Here are some of the major nutrients found in half of a medium-sized grapefruit (1):

  • Calories: 52
  • Carbs: 13 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 64% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 28% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 5% of the RDI
  • Thiamine: 4% of the RDI
  • Folate: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 3% of the RDI

Additionally, it is a rich source of some powerful antioxidant plant compounds, which are likely responsible for many of its health benefits.

Summary: Grapefruit is low in calories and also provides a significant amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

2. It May Benefit Your Immune System

Grapefruit Cut into Three Pieces

Eating grapefruit regularly may be beneficial for your immune system.

It’s prized for its high content of vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties known to protect your cells from harmful bacteria and viruses (2).

Additionally, several studies have shown vitamin C to be beneficial for helping people recover more quickly from the common cold (3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

Many other vitamins and minerals found in grapefruit are known to benefit immunity, including vitamin A, which has been shown to help protect against inflammation and several infectious diseases (8, 9).

Grapefruit also provides small amounts of B vitamins, zinc, copper and iron, which all work together in the body to promote immune system function. They also help maintain the integrity of your skin, which acts as a protective barrier to infection (10).

Summary: Grapefruit may benefit your immune system, as it contains several vitamins and minerals known for their role in preventing infection.

3. May Promote Appetite Control

Grapefruit contains a decent amount of fiber — 2 grams in half of a medium-sized fruit (1).

Research shows that a diet high in fiber-rich fruits is beneficial for inducing feelings of fullness. This is because fiber slows the rate at which your stomach empties, increasing digestion time (11, 12, 13).

Thus, consuming adequate amounts of fiber may automatically help you eat fewer calories throughout the day by keeping your appetite at bay (14).

Summary: Grapefruit contains fiber, which helps with appetite control by promoting fullness.

4. It Has Been Shown to Aid Weight Loss

Whole Grapefruit with a Leaf and a Slice of Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a weight loss friendly food.

It has several properties linked to weight loss, especially its fiber content, which helps promote fullness and reduce calorie intake (14, 15, 16, 17).

Additionally, grapefruit contains few calories but lots of water, which is another characteristic known to help with weight loss (18).

One study in 91 obese subjects found that those who consumed half of a fresh grapefruit before meals lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t (19).

In fact, those in the group that ate fresh grapefruit lost an average of 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) over 12 weeks, while the participants in the group that didn’t eat grapefruit lost less than 1 pound (0.3 kg), on average (19).

Other studies have found similar weight-reducing effects. For instance, one study found that participants experienced a reduced waist size when they consumed grapefruit daily with their meals (20, 21).

This isn’t to say that grapefruit will produce weight loss on its own, but adding it to an already healthy diet may prove to be beneficial.

Summary: Eating grapefruit before meals may be helpful for weight loss. Its fiber and water can promote fullness and reduce calorie intake.

5. Grapefruit May Help Prevent Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Eating grapefruit regularly may have the potential to prevent insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.

Insulin resistance occurs when your cells stop responding to insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates many processes in your body. For example, it’s involved in many aspects of your metabolism, but it’s most commonly known for its role in blood sugar control (22).

Insulin resistance ultimately leads to higher insulin and blood sugar levels, two primary risk factors for type 2 diabetes (22, 23, 24).

Eating grapefruit may help control insulin levels and thus have the ability to reduce your likelihood of becoming insulin resistant (19).

In one study, subjects who ate half of a fresh grapefruit before meals experienced a significant reduction in both insulin levels and insulin resistance, compared to the group that didn’t eat grapefruit (19).

Furthermore, eating fruit as a whole is generally associated with better blood sugar control and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (25, 26).

Summary: Grapefruit may help reduce insulin resistance, which can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

6. Eating Grapefruit May Improve Heart Health

Half a Grapefruit on a Plate

Regularly consuming grapefruit is thought to improve heart health by reducing risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

In one study, people who ate grapefruit three times daily for six weeks experienced significant reductions in blood pressure over the course of the study. They also showed improvements in total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels (21).

These effects are likely due to the important nutrients that grapefruit contains, which play a role in keeping your heart functioning properly.

First, grapefruit is fairly high in potassium, a mineral responsible for many aspects of heart health. Half a grapefruit provides about 5% of your daily potassium needs (1, 27, 28, 29).

Adequate potassium intake is associated with a reduced risk of high blood pressure. Additionally, it has been shown to lower the risk of death from heart disease (29, 30).

Second, the fiber in grapefruit may also boost heart health, given that a high fiber intake is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels (17).

Overall, researchers claim that including fiber and antioxidant-rich fruits like grapefruit as part of a healthy diet helps protect against conditions like heart disease and stroke (11, 31, 32).

Summary: Grapefruit contains nutrients and antioxidants shown to help protect the heart by regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

7. It’s High in Powerful Antioxidants

Grapefruit contains a few different antioxidants that provide various health benefits, including a reduced risk of several diseases (33).

Antioxidants protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that may cause harmful reactions in your body (34).

Here’s an overview of the most important antioxidants in grapefruit:

  • Vitamin C: A powerful, water-soluble antioxidant that is present in high amounts in grapefruit. It may protect cells from damage that often leads to heart disease and cancer (35).
  • Beta-carotene: It’s converted into vitamin A in the body and thought to help reduce the risk of some chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer and eye-related disorders like macular degeneration (36).
  • Lycopene: Known for its potential ability to prevent the development of certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. May also help slow the growth of tumors and decrease the side effects of common cancer treatments (37, 38).
  • Flavanones: Their anti-inflammatory properties have been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease (39, 40).

Summary: Grapefruit contains several types of antioxidants that may help prevent the development of some chronic conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

8. May Reduce the Risk of Kidney Stones

Half a Grapefruit

Consuming grapefruit may reduce your risk of developing kidney stones, which result from a buildup of waste materials in the kidneys.

These waste materials are products of metabolism that are normally filtered through the kidneys and removed from the body in urine.

However, when they crystallize in the kidneys, they become stones. Larger kidney stones may cause a blockage in the urinary system, which can be incredibly painful.

The most common type of kidney stones is calcium oxalate stones. Citric acid, an organic acid found in grapefruit, may be effective at preventing them by binding with calcium in the kidneys and flushing it out of the body (41, 42).

Also, citric acid has the ability to increase the volume and pH of your urine, producing an environment that is less favorable to the formation of kidney stones (43).

Summary: The citric acid in grapefruit may help reduce the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones.

9. Very Hydrating

Grapefruit contains a lot of water and is, therefore, very hydrating. In fact, water makes up most of the fruit’s weight.

There are almost 4 ounces (118 ml) of water in half of a medium grapefruit, which accounts for about 88% of its total weight (1).

While drinking lots of water is the best way to stay hydrated, eating water-rich foods can also help.

Summary: Grapefruit has a high water content, which helps you stay hydrated.

10. Easy to Add to Your Diet

Citrus Smoothie

Grapefruit requires little-to-no preparation, so it’s fairly easy to add to your diet.

Even if you live a busy, on-the-go lifestyle, you can still enjoy grapefruit on a regular basis without worrying about it taking up too much of your time.

Here are some ways you can enjoy grapefruit:

  • Snack on grapefruit slices alone.
  • Eat it as an alternative to unhealthy dessert foods.
  • Try this salad, which combines grapefruit with kale and avocado.
  • Blend it into this smoothie with other fruits and veggies.
  • Include it in a healthy breakfast parfait like in this recipe.

Summary: Grapefruit is a healthy food that’s easy to incorporate into your diet.

Grapefruit Is Not for Everyone

There are a few reasons why some people may need to avoid eating grapefruit.

Medication Interactions

For some people, consuming grapefruit and its juice may lead to medication interactions (44).

This is because it contains substances that inhibit cytochrome P450, an enzyme your body uses to metabolize certain medications.

If you eat grapefruit while taking these medications, your body may not be able to break them down, which could cause an overdose and other adverse effects (44).

The medications most likely to interact with grapefruit include (44):

  • Immunosuppressants
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Most calcium channel blockers
  • Indinavir
  • Carbamazepine
  • Some statins

If you are taking any of these medications, talk with your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet.

Tooth Enamel Erosion

In some instances, eating grapefruit may lead to tooth enamel erosion.

Citric acid, which is found in citrus fruits, is a common cause of enamel erosion, especially if you consume it in excess (45).

If you have particularly sensitive teeth, you may need to avoid acidic fruits. However, there are some things you can do to preserve your tooth enamel while still enjoying grapefruit:

  • Never suck on grapefruit or other acidic fruits and avoid putting them directly against your teeth.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after eating the fruit and wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth.
  • Eat cheese with the fruit. This helps neutralize the acidity in your mouth and increase saliva production.

Summary: If you take certain medications or have sensitive teeth, you may need to limit your grapefruit intake or avoid it altogether.

The Bottom Line

Grapefruit is one of the healthiest fruits on the planet. It’s rich in important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

On the whole, grapefruit is delicious and incredibly easy to add to your diet.