The Incredible Health Benefits of Grapefruit

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH


Juicy, delicious, and nutrient-dense, grapefruit is an amazing superfood with incredible health benefits. Studies have linked eating this healthy fruit with a reduced risk of ischemic stroke. This luscious fruit makes a tasty low-calorie snack or super refreshing drink and incorporating grapefruit into your diet could be beneficial to your health in many ways.

What Makes this Citrus Fruit so Special?

Grapefruit was actually created in the 18th century by crossing an orange with a pomelo. They grow in clusters similar to grapes, which is where the name comes from. This fruit also comes in a variety of vibrant colors—yellow, red, pink, and white. The taste of grapefruit is somewhere between sweet and sour, and this thirst-quenching superfood is high in nutrients but low in calories—the low glycemic index makes them extremely healthy. In addition to being juicy, delicious, and incredibly healthy, the natural pleasant citrus fragrance of grapefruit will instantly lift your mood and has a calming effect that could help you relax and de-stress.

Your body responds to stress via the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system which is a complex network of various organs and six circuits, including the inflammation circuit, working in close coordination. When your body experiences stress, the NEM signals to your adrenal glands to start producing more of the anti-stress hormone cortisol. However, constant stress can overburden your adrenals and eventually render them unable to secrete adequate amounts of cortisol to meet demands. This will reduce your body’s natural stress-fighting abilities which can lead to adrenal fatigue.

It may seem quite normal to feel fatigued owing to our modern stress-filled lifestyles. However, frequently experiencing extreme fatigue along with other symptoms, such as anxiety, brain fog, low concentration levels, insomnia, constipation, low energy levels, stubborn weight gain, difficulty waking up, and cravings for salty or fatty foods, could be a sign of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).

The inflammation circuit is comprised of the microbiome, immune system, and gut. Imbalances within your inflammation circuit can lead to food and chemical sensitivities, leaky gut, frequent illness, recurrent infections with prolonged healing periods, musculoskeletal pain, and autoimmune disorders. Superfoods like grapefruit are a powerhouse of beneficial compounds and powerful antioxidants that can help promote a healthy gut, boost your immune system, and support your microbiome, which, in turn, helps your inflammation circuit to function optimally.

Remarkable Health Benefits of Grapefruit

This citrus fruit is packed with flavonoids, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins A, B6, and C, phytochemicals, and beta-carotene, all of which are beneficial to your overall health. Grapefruit also contains folate, potassium, calcium, thiamine, magnesium, and pantothenic acid.

Here’s why you should consider adding this juicy low-calorie fruit to your diet.

Promotes a Healthy Gut

The high fiber content of this fruit can stimulate your digestive system, enhance the flow of digestive juices, and ease bowel movements, thereby preventing constipation and helping you maintain a healthy digestive tract. Grapefruit can also work as a probiotic, encouraging the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

Boosts the Immune System

Since it is packed with vitamin C and bioflavonoids, this fruit is an excellent immune system booster—especially the pink and red varieties. Extensive studies have shown that a consistent intake of vitamin C can help your immune system function at its peak level. With your immune system functioning optimally, you’ll be less likely to contract infections and become ill.

Supports Microbiome Health

The prebiotic properties of this citrus fruit support microbiome health by encouraging the growth of good bacteria and eliminating harmful bacteria. Eating grapefruit regularly can also reduce your risk of digestive system cancers. Prebiotics are excellent for your immune system, intestines, and overall digestion. In addition, adding more prebiotics to your diet can help improve any existing gut conditions such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or leaky gut.

Promotes Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, fresh grapefruit is a superstar. It contains an organic compound called nootkatone which activates an enzyme—activated protein kinase (AMPK)—used for energy production. This can boost your metabolism, and in turn, encourage weight loss. Typically, AMPK is activated during a workout to help your muscles utilize its stores of fat and sugar for energy. Studies have shown that grapefruit, when consumed as juice or capsule form, promotes more weight loss in obese people compared to the placebo group. Moreover, eating just half of a grapefruit before meals significantly increased weight loss and improved insulin resistance.

Suppresses Appetite

Since grapefruit is rich in fiber, it can give you a feeling of fullness and suppress hunger by stimulating the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that regulates the release of digestive juices.

Fights Fatigue

Having a glass of refreshing juice made fresh from this fruit can quench your thirst and give you a huge boost of energy. Nootkatone, the valuable compound that activates AMPK for energy production, alleviates fatigue and also reduces the risk of diabetes.

Promotes Heart Health

Adding this amazing citrus fruit to your diet promotes a healthy heart because it is a powerhouse of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, choline, and lycopene. A study has shown that taking 4069 mg of potassium per day significantly can reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease-related death by up to 49 percent. Further, potassium has powerful vasodilatory properties, which simply means it can widen your arteries to help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack.

Ensures Better Sleep

Restorative sleep is an essential tool for adrenal fatigue recovery. Having a glass of fresh grapefruit fruit juice before bed can promote sound sleep. The fruit is rich in tryptophan which helps reduce anxiety and calm the mind—essential for falling asleep.

Reduces Risk of Stroke

According to a study conducted by the American Heart Association, eating grapefruit can reduce the risk of stroke, especially in women. During the study, 70,000 female participants consumed a high quantity of flavonoids from citrus fruit. This reduced the risk of ischemic stroke by 19 percent compared to women who consumed fewer flavonoids.

Helps Fight Cancer

The citrus fruit is rich in powerful antioxidants and is therefore an effective cancer-fighting food. Studies have revealed that limonin and naringenin—phytochemicals found in grapefruit—can help reduce the spread of skin, mouth, colon, stomach, breast, and lung cancer. These phytochemicals help fight cancer by reducing inflammation and increasing the level of carcinogen deactivating enzymes in your body. Further, the high vitamin C content in the fruit can protect your body against free radical damage and prevent cancer.

Promotes Glowing Skin

Grapefruit is the star ingredient in several skincare products. Natural acids found in the fruit work as effective skin cleansing agents. The fruit is also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant, which protects the skin and increases collagen production, keeping your skin wrinkle-free and youthful. In addition, the high beta-carotene and lycopene content of pink grapefruit helps fight hyperpigmentation, skin damage, and inflammation. The fruit also contains salicylic acid which can help fight acne and blemishes. You can even directly apply grapefruit juice or pulp to your skin for a healthy glow.

How to Enjoy Grapefruit?

This delicious superfood can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Try cutting the fruit in half and using a juice press extract some of the delicious juice. Another way could be to remove the peel and enjoy the fruit as is or chop it up and toss the pieces into salads.

To get you started, here is a refreshing drink to quench your thirst and keep you going. It also contains ginger and mint. Ginger is high in anti-inflammatory properties and mint soothes the stomach and aids digestion.

Ginger Mint Grapefruit Crush

Ingredients A

  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 large pinch of Himalayan pink salt or black salt

Ingredients B

  • 3 cups of fresh grapefruit juice along with the pulp (fiber)
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Method

  1. Gently muddle ingredients A together and transfer into a glass.
  2. Add ingredients B and stir to make a refreshing and healthy drink.

Conclusion

Grapefruit is a nutrient-dense superfood with amazing health benefits. The high fiber low-calorie citrus fruit is also full of flavonoids, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins A, B6, and C, phytochemicals, and beta-carotene. They also contain folate, potassium, calcium, thiamine, magnesium, and pantothenic acid. Fresh juice from this citrus fruit, along with the pulp, can provide optimal nutrition. Incorporating this healthy and delicious superfood into your diet can promote a healthy gut, boost your immune system, support a healthy microbiome, improve weight loss, suppress your appetite, help you fight fatigue, ensure better sleep, and reduce the risk of stroke. Just remember, it’s important to incorporate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet to provide your body with all the essential nutrients it needs for optimal health.

 
© Copyright 2012 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Grapefruit is high in powerful antioxidants and has several health benefits but also contains a high level of potassium which can aggravate your sodium-potassium balance if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue and could make your condition worse. Only moderate consumption is advised.


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