The grapefruit was bred in the 18th century as a cross between a pomelo and an orange. It was given the name grapefruit due to its growing in clusters, similar to grapes. Grapefruits vary in color from white or yellow to pink and red. They can range in taste from acidic and even bitter to sweet and sugary. These fruits support clear, healthy skin, can help to lower our risk of many diseases and conditions, and may even help with weight loss as a part of healthy and varied diet. The juices, peels, and pulps of this fruit provide nutritional benefit.
Benefits of grapefruit
- Suppresses Appetite – Grapefruit works as an excellent appetite suppressant as compared to many other foods. It is said that the smell of the grapefruit reduces the feeling of hunger, which is the reason why people often include grapefruits in their weight loss programs. The high amounts of fiber in these fruits can also satisfy hunger, help people avoid overeating, and stimulate cholecystokinin to be released, a hormone that regulates digestive juices and acts as a hunger suppressant. This was confirmed in a study by AF Heini, that was published in the International Journal of Obesity.
- Antioxidant Properties – Grapefruit is a valuable remedy for influenza, since it helps to minimize acidity in the system. Research published in the Comprehensive Natural Products 2010 says that the bitter properties arising from an essence called ‘naringin’ in grapefruits tone up the system and the digestive process. Naringin is also considered a flavonoid, which is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants have antifungal, antibacterial, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory qualities, making them one of the most important lines of defense in the immune system, protecting against influenza as well as many other serious conditions.
- Helps in Malaria Treatment – The juice or grapefruit itself contains valuable and natural quinine, which is advantageous for the treatment of malaria. A study published in the Malaria Journal (Issue 2011) by researchers Philippe Rasoanaivo and Colin W Wright confirmed this. Quinine is an alkaloid with a long history of treating malaria, as well as lupus, arthritis, and nocturnal leg cramps. It is not an easy component to find in many foods, so grapefruits are beneficial and rare example for it. The quinine can be easily extracted from the fruits by boiling a quarter of grapefruit and straining the pulp.
- Reduces Fever – The pulp or the juice of grapefruit helps the patients recover quickly from fever, and it reduces the burning sensation that occurs when the body reaches a high temperature. It is also known as a way to boost the immune system against cold and other common illnesses. Grapefruit juice, when combined with water, can quench thirst very quickly and keep the body hydrated for longer time. Most of these benefits come from the high content of vitamin C in grapefruits, which acts as a general immune system defense system and can help the body in fighting the fever.
- Reduces Fatigue – Grapefruits are beneficial in the treatment of fatigue as they can help you dispel your tiredness caused by routine or boring work. Drinking grapefruit juice can be a refreshing and delicious way to quickly boost your energy levels. Researchers from Japan found that nootkatone is a very rare and important compound found within grapefruits. Nootkatone improves energy metabolism in the body through AMPK activation. This results in higher endurance and boosted energy, increased weight loss, and a reduction in the chances of developing diabetes.
- Treats Indigestion – Grapefruit is useful for indigestion. It is very light as compared to other foods and thus, acts immediately on indigestion by easing the heat and irritation caused in the stomach. It improves the flow of digestive juices, which facilitates the movement of the bowels and keeps your excretory system regulated. This is due to the presence of fiber and vegetative pulp in grapefruits that adds bulk to the bowels and regulates your excretory schedule. Grapefruit extract is also often used in modern medicine for these same reasons.
- Promotes Sleep – A glass of grapefruit juice, if consumed before going to bed, can promote healthy sleep and alleviate the irritating symptoms and repercussions of insomnia. This is due to the presence of tryptophan in grapefruits, the chemical we often associate with becoming sleepy after big meals. The levels of tryptophan in grapefruit juice enable us to nod off peacefully.
- Controls Diabetes – Diabetics can eat grapefruits as they can reduce the level of starch in the body. Intake of grapefruits can help them regulate the flow of sugar in their body, effectively handling the disease. Recent studies published in the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa have shown this beneficial relationship between diabetes and grapefruits due to the flavonoid content of grapefruits, along with a number of other health benefits.
- Reduces Acidity – Fresh grapefruit juice creates an alkaline condition in the intestines for proper digestion. The citric acid of the fruit is contained in the human body and thus it increases the efficiency of the alkalinity reaction after digestion. The juice extracted from grapefruits is beneficial in preventing acid formation and many other diseases that arise due to the presence of excess acidity in the body.
- Eliminates Constipation – A glass full of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice in the morning is a great remedy to control constipation. The juice stimulates the colon and other parts of the body relating to the digestive system. This is due to the stimulating effect of fiber on the secretion and stimulation of gastric juices that ease the constriction of the digestive tract and induce a bowel movement.
- Removes Flatulence – 10 to 20 drops of grapefruit juice, taken before all three meals of the day, can work as an appropriate probiotic and digestive enzyme and will relieve excess flatulence and stomach discomfort. Further research needs to be done on the exact mechanism behind this phenomenon, but again, people believe it relates to flavonoid content in citrus fruits like grapefruits.
- Gives Relief from Urinary Disorders – Grapefruit juice is quite rich in potassium and vitamin C, so it is one of the best treatments for issues related to urination often caused by liver, kidney or heart problems. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that consumption of grapefruit can reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), as well as hazardous triglycerides. Furthermore, its high potassium content works as a vasodilator, meaning that blood vessels and arteries relax, thereby reducing blood pressure and lessening the risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, increased levels of potassium have been associated with higher cognitive function because of increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
Grapefruits are the natural sources of medicine that help the body fight off various diseases. They enable the human body to regulate cholesterol, which means that they minimize the risk of cardiovascular diseases caused by high cholesterol.
Adding grapefruits to your diet
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.
The best time to consume grapefruits is before any meal or before going to bed.
Word of caution
Despite all of these health benefits and the fact that sometimes grapefruits can be superior to other medicines in their efficacy, you must be very careful while taking medicines and consuming grapefruit juice at the same time. Certain chemicals in grapefruits, like naringin, and other less common compounds can negatively interact with various drugs and cause damage to your organ systems. Be sure to consult your doctor in terms of drug interactions with grapefruit juice in your diet before beginning any new treatment.
Recipe for Grapefruit green smoothie
1 medium grapefruit (peeled // seeds removed // reserve juice)
1 large sweet apple (cored and skin removed // I prefer honeycrisp)
2 cups spinach (I like to freeze mine to keep it extra fresh)
1 large ripe banana (previously sliced and frozen)
2-3 ice cubes
~1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, water, or orange juice (to thin)
1/2 tsp fresh ginger (optional // peeled and chopped)
Add all ingredients to a blender (including reserved grapefruit juice) and blend until creamy and smooth. Add more liquid if too thick, ice to thicken, and banana or apple to sweeten.
Recipe for Healthy grapefruit parfait
Prep Time: 5 mins Total Time: 5 mins Yield: 1
2/3 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 small grapefruit
1 tsp honey (more if you like it sweet!)
2 tbsp sliced almonds
Segment the grapefruit with a sharp knife, so you have grapefruit flesh without the pith. The goal is to cut all the skin away, but leave as much of the fruit as possible!
In a large glass, spoon half the Greek yogurt into the bottom of the glass.
Top with a few pieces of grapefruit.
Add more yogurt and top with more grapefruit.
Drizzle with honey and add almonds on top.
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