10 Grapefruit Health Benefits Explained
Breakfast! They say it’s the most important meal of the day! Breakfast can be nutritious, but sometimes it can be the most sugary, fatty meal of the day.
Nonetheless every day billions of people around the world wake up and generally make themselves something to eat. It’s the foundation of healthy eating habits. Whether that be that a savory breakfast or even just a bowl of cereal, breakfast is personally my favorite meal. However, what people eat changes from individual to individual. Never before have our diets played such a crucial role in our day to day lives. “Should I eat this? Should I not eat that? How much of this should I eat and when should I eat it?”
It’s easy to see why so many people end up ditching their diets not long after starting! Simply sticking to one is such a challenge especially on top of the everyday stresses of life. So, in order to make it easier on ourselves, we need to find foods that work for us. We need food that is healthy enough to consume without ruining your calorie count.
Grapefruits are the answer to many questions we may have regarding the foods we eat. It’s a low calorie, high energy, vitamin, nutrient, and mineral-packed natural wonder fruit. It also has benefits that range much further than simply helping you to fill up during the day when you’re feeling peckish.
Research in recent years has shown that the humble grapefruit can do more for us than many supplements or even medicines can -- at least in terms of preventing the onset of disease and, in some cases, even treating the ailment or disease fully.
While modern science tries to unlock more of the amazing capabilities of this fantastic fruit, we’ll dissect it in this article. We will look into the many ways that you can use grapefruits on a daily basis to strengthen your body, boost your metabolism, get rid of infections and even help to treat your skin and hair among others. So keep reading to find out more!
Grapefruit Explained: Where Do They Originate From?
The grapefruit has quite a rich and exotic history and has long been known as the ‘forbidden fruit’ by many. The story of the grapefruit is as follows. The grapefruit itself is actually a hybrid fruit and was originally cultivated in Barbados. A certain ‘Captain Shaddock’ visited Barbados in 1693 and while there, he planted pomelo seeds which he brought from Indonesia.
It is thought that over time, the pomelo trees crossbred with Jamaican sweet oranges (originally a hybrid of Asian origin itself). The product of this cross-pollination or breeding was the grapefruit. However, it was only until 1750 that a Welsh historian discovered the fruit on a trip to Barbados and documented it -- claiming that the grapefruit was one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Barbados’.
In 1823, the fruit was brought to America by a Count known as Odet Philippe, however, the tree only saw commercial success towards the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. One of the most successful producers of grapefruit in America was a man known as Kimball Chase Atwood, a forerunner of John A. Macdonald -- a farmer who also had success cultivating grapefruit in Florida.
How the Grapefruit Grew in Popularity
Atwood, who was based in Texas, had the largest and most successful operation in the country by the early 20th century with roughly 80 000 boxes of grapefruits being sold a year. He was also the first to discover the ‘Ruby Red’ grapefruit. This was the result of a mutation that caused a very sweet, deep red in color variety of grapefruit to start growing.
Because people favored the taste of this now sweeter grapefruit, it was cultivated en masse shortly afterward. It has since gone on to become a symbolic fruit of Texas as well as a much-loved food source by many.
10 Grapefruit Health Benefits
1. Weight Loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, then you’ll know how much of a hassle the process can be -- and it is a process. These days, there are so many fad diets around, that it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the options of what you can, can’t, should or shouldn’t be eating. And when you become overwhelmed, you stress and become depressed. You may slip back into the negative eating cycle you’re so desperate to get out of.
With this in mind, weight loss should be looked at from a more holistic perspective. It’s always better to lose weight at a slower and more consistent pace rather than trying to burn fat fast. That being said, a glass of grapefruit juice can go a long way in providing your body with a natural fat burner. This is thought to be due to the high water content of this fruit which increases satiation meaning that you stay full for longer.
With regards to grapefruits and their effectiveness in terms of dieting and weight loss, there are a few points that I think need to be cleared up. Firstly, eating grapefruits alone won’t help you burn fat. Grapefruits should be a part of a healthy, nutritious diet in order for them to be most effective. That being said, they make ideal snacks for weight watchers because they are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber (in the form of pectin), and have a high water content.
With all this in mind, grapefruits have the potential to balance insulin levels and reduce insulin resistance due to the fact that your body is properly processing sugar. This results in healthier weight management because your body is able to process nutrients properly.
2. Boost Metabolism
Grapefruits also have the ability to give you a boost of energy, minerals, nutrients, and vitamins that your body needs. In addition, it helps to clear out your digestive system due to their high fiber content. This will help you process food waste better, ultimately allowing you to get rid of excess weight and toxins more effectively.
I would recommend having grapefruit for breakfast and lunchtime if you’re watching your weight as they’re a great way to keep you feeling full, boost your metabolism, lift your spirits and give you an energy push for that final haul.
I would also recommend sticking to the whole fruit, rather than the juice. This is simply because the fruits contain larger amounts of vitamins and nutrients, but will have less sugar (artificial or fructose) than fruit juice blends and are more effective at filling us up.
3. Reduce Risk Of Stroke
Every year roughly 795,000 people in the US alone suffer from strokes -- many of which will be fatal. Facing this staggering amount is enough of a challenge on its own. Trying to find a way to curb this number has proven to be even more of a challenge.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to categorically claim that grapefruits or citrus fruits, in general, can cure or prevent the onset of a stroke.
However, there is evidence that this may be an important factor in terms of keeping your body in a state that is less conducive or prone to strokes. More specifically, ischaemic strokes which start due to blood clots that become loose and get stuck in our brains. The key to the grapefruits success in this area lies in its ability to provide the body with a rich amount of bio-flavonoids -- but what are they?
Flavonoids are essentially phytochemicals that are produced by a wide variety of plants, fruits, and vegetables and work as antioxidants to help keep our body clear of toxins that may cause internal inflammation and blood clotting. So by eating at least 1 grapefruit a day, an orange and some grapes every-day as well as at least 2 different servings of vegetables a day, you can effectively reduce your chances of developing a stroke later in life by around 18% on average. If you stick to a diet for a long time, you will feel more prepared for the challenges that come with aging or surprises such as strokes. So that’s one more thing to add to the health benefits of grapefruits.
4. Reduce Bad Cholesterol
Most forms of heart disease can connect to, among other factors, your potentially high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is known as the ‘silent killer’. With this in mind, one of the flavonoids in grapefruit, known as naringenin, has the potential to prevent your risk of atherosclerosis. This is the build-up of cholesterol in your arteries, as well as reduce triglycerides. Cholesterol is a bit of balancing act in its own right. There are two types of cholesterol that occur in our body’s namely High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL -- good cholesterol) and Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol -- the bad cholesterol). In order for us to remain healthy, both of these must be balanced with one another. In light of this, research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has proven that grapefruits have the power to reduce LDL cholesterol levels.
Anybody taking statins or calcium channel blockers for high cholesterol should consult with their medical care provider before eating a diet rich in grapefruits, as it does interact with some medications such as these. No matter the benefits of a natural substance, one should always be cautious of potential side effects.
5. Lower Blood Pressure
It is said that around 70 million Americans suffer from hypertension which is a pretty serious disorder that often results in high blood pressure. Constant high blood pressure can have negative effects. Besides keeping in contact with your doctor, one should make sure their diet does not worsen their high blood pressure. Try adding grapefruits to your diet to help with high blood pressure!
Grapefruits can lower blood pressure due to their rich amount of potassium. The potassium helps to neutralize the salt that is in our body. Our kidneys work to extract excess liquids out of our blood. This is done by filtering our blood through walls lined with potassium and sodium.
When we eat too much sodium we ruin this balance and our blood pressure remains high because it is unfiltered. By balancing out the sodium levels in your kidney, you can filter blood more effectively. In the long run, this will help to lower your blood pressure levels. Moderating your blood pressure levels can reduce your risk of a myriad of cardiovascular risks, including heart attack.
6. Reduce Cancer Risk
Research has shown that people who tend to eat at least 5-6 helpings of whole fruits and vegetables have a much less chance of developing cancer in the first place. So I’d recommend that you try to eat clean, healthy foods to help avoid the disease altogether. Grapefruits have been shown to help with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer specifically.
Due to their rich amount of powerful antioxidants such as flavonoids and beta carotene, grapefruits have become synonymous with the idea of food as a medicine. These antioxidants help to protect cells by entrapping free radicals and flushing them out of your body reducing your risk of cancer cells. This will reduce levels of inflammation and make it easier for vitamins and minerals to heal your body.
By eating citrus fruits, and specifically fresh grapefruits which contain lots of flavonoids, you can effectively boost your body’s overall immune system and get rid of the free radicals and carcinogens that worsen your health -- especially important if you’re battling with cancer.
7. Boost Hydration
Grapefruits are well-known as being the fruits with the highest water content per serving. This makes them really helpful for keeping your body and skin hydrated over the course of the day.
Besides delivering much-needed moisture to various parts of your body, the water content in grapefruits is great for transporting the much-needed vitamins, nutrients, and minerals around your body more efficiently. This can also help to flush out toxins and reduce your risk of kidney stones.
This means you’ll feel the benefits that the fruit can provide quicker and more effectively. It’s easy to see why sailors used to refer to grapefruit as ‘the forbidden fruit’. Probably because they’d want to save them for their voyages for all that natural juice!
8. Nourish Skin
When it comes to treating your skin or hair with grapefruit, I would recommend using the essential oil instead. The essential oil of grapefruits is a concentrated liquid form of all the phytonutrients, minerals and vitamins that are contained within the fruit, it’s just a lot easier to use on your skin or hair and a lot more effective as well.
The oil helps to penetrate deeply into the layers of your skin. This breaks down the fat cells that gather to form cellulite and helps to smooth the skin. Ultimately, this stimulates cell regeneration and remove cellulite, thus tackling the issue from the inside. Additionally, grapefruits are rich in vitamin A which increases skin brightness, giving you that healthy, glowing complexion.
Oil is also important for a variety of other skin-related issues, such as healing wounds and keeps them clean. The oil acts as a natural antimicrobial agent, which means that it helps to kill and remove bacteria that can lead to further infection which makes it great for treating acne-prone skin.
Grapefruit oil can also be used as a natural skin toner! It helps to balance your skin’s natural oil levels which is great for people with oily or combination skin types. Excess sebum oil generally leads to clogged pores, so getting rid of it is important for maintaining a healthy complexion. Apply the oil to a cotton swab and wipe your face with it after your normal facial routine. After a few uses, your skin will feel cleaner and fresher in no time. Citric acid, in general, is known for its ability to brighten skin, and grapefruit oil is a delicious place to start!
9. Cleanse Scalp
Any nutritionist will be the first to list the nutrition facts of grapefruits. But what about your skin, hair, and nails? Grapefruit essential oil is particularly good for treating your hair! The antioxidants in the oil help to clear your scalp of any free radical molecules that generally lead to cell damage. If left untreated, it may cause your hairs to die from the inside.
The oil gets rid of any dryness that may lead to dandruff and will keep your hair moisturized. Additionally, grapefruits are rich in the antioxidant lycopene which has anti-inflammatory properties. These properties balance your scalps overall condition, resulting in healthy hair growth.
Besides that, grapefruit oil will also penetrate the surface layer of your scalp and lead to increased blood circulation, meaning that more nutrients will reach your hair thus stimulating hair growth and stronger hair follicles in general.
Finally, one of the key chemical compounds in grapefruit oil is D-Limonene which helps to reduce the formation of a chemical known as 5 Alpha-reductase.
10. Boost Immune System
The rich levels of vitamins A and vitamin C found in grapefruits make these delicious fruits an effective remedy to boost your immune system. Half a grapefruit contains up to 28% of your daily value of vitamin A. Citrus fruits are often a go-to when it comes to protecting your immune system from the common cold or flu. With this in mind, grapefruits make for an antioxidant-rich solution.
It’s easy to see why grapefruits are such a popular delicacy around the world. Besides their delicious taste and texture, they’re also packed with water. This makes them filling even though they are low in calories. Throw them into a smoothie, drink grapefruit juice, or just eat it fresh from the skin! Whichever way you decide to add this fruit to your diet, you’re sure to reap the benefits in a multitude of ways.
We can use them daily to help with high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, strokes, heart disease, and even cancer. I think that puts the grapefruit in a class of its own. Who knows, perhaps in future doctors will be recommending them to patients? One thing we do know is that the grapefruit will most certainly be there for us again in the future.