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This Is What Happens When You Eat Grapefruit

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Ripe grapefruits in basket and bowl on brown wooden table
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Citrus Situation

Grapefruit juice was a go-to drink back in the day for ladies in leotards looking to slim down. Today, the grapefruit remains a popular citrus fruit and juice — unless you’re on certain meds, when you’re cautioned to avoid it. Read on for the pros and cons of this common fruit that’s found in most every grocery store.


Related: The Surprising Side Effects of Eating Beets, According to Science

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A Bite of History

The grapefruit is thought to have originated in Barbados as a hybrid between the sweet orange and the pomelo, or shaddock. It grows on trees, with mature trees able to produce up to nearly 1,500 pounds of fruit per year. Today, it’s most commonly cultivated in China, Vietnam, and the United States and is a popular breakfast food around the world.


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By the Numbers

At a serving size of half a medium grapefruit, you’ll have 60 calories (zero from fat), 100 percent of your vitamin C requirement for the day, no sodium or cholesterol, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.


Related: Must-See Food Museums Across America

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It Can Interfere With Medication

Those on certain medications do need to be mindful when it comes to eating grapefruit. According to Harvard Health Publishing, grapefruit can be dangerous when combined with drugs used for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression. Check with your doctor for guidance on any potential interactions with your specific medications.

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It Hydrates

At about 92% water, grapefruit has one of the highest water contents of any fruit, so it can help with hydration. Opt for the heavier fruits as they contain more juice.

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It Might Help With Weight Loss

The so-called “grapefruit diet” is a fad diet that’s been around since the 1930s that reportedly helps burn fat and melt away pounds. However, the diet tends to restrict calories greatly and offers more liquid so you feel full faster — so it’s not really due to the grapefruit or its magical qualities.

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It Boosts Potassium Levels

A proper amount of potassium is good for your heart by lowering blood pressure, keeping heart rhythm steady, and reducing the risk of cardiac arrest. But be careful. Because the fruit contains high levels of potassium, people with kidney infections or problems may not be able to filter out the excess potassium, which can be life-threatening.

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It Helps Metabolism

Eating a grapefruit each day (or an orange or tangerine) can provide niacin, ideal in helping the food you eat turn into energy. Niacin also is used for DNA repair.

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It Can Upset Your Stomach

Those prone to heartburn may want to think twice before downing a tall glass of grapefruit juice. Grapefruits are highly acidic and can worsen heartburn and regurgitation in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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It's a Heart Helper

Your heart will thank you for having grapefruit. It has natural plant compounds called phytochemicals, specifically flavonoids, which studies show can help lower your chances of stroke and heart disease. Pink and red grapefruit are good sources of beta carotene (a source of vitamin A) and lycopene, an antioxidant ‘cousin’ to beta carotene that has been linked to lower stroke risk. The lycopene in one cup of red or pink grapefruit sections is equal to a medium 4-ounce tomato.

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It Aids Vision

Grapefruit is a good source of Vitamin A, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which are key to protecting your eyes. These lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration, which ultimately leads to vision loss.

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It Depends How You Eat It

Peeling a grapefruit like an orange and eating it in sections offers even more benefits. Why? You consume the membranes along with the fruit. The membranes have leptin, a type of fiber that can help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and seem to be a prebiotic that nurtures the healthy bacteria in our gut.

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It Can Hurt Your Teeth

Caring Family Dentistry in Mill Creek, Washington, says that citrus fruit such as lemon and grapefruit should be monitored. Grapefruit is high in sugar and is highly acidic, both of which can damage teeth. The solution: Brush your teeth after eating citrus.

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It May Help Blood Sugar

Animal studies have found that grapefruit juice may help reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance. Higher fruit and green vegetable intake has also been linked to a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

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It Can Help You Sleep

Because grapefruit is high in lycopene, you might get a boost at bedtime. Studies have found that people who consume more lycopene had less difficulty falling asleep. That lycopene level can also support heart and bone health.

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What to Do With Grapefruit

If this has you craving grapefruit, head into the kitchen and unpeel one. Alternatively, use grapefruits in an array of unusual recipes ranging from a paloma cocktail (Barley & Sage) to an avocado, grapefruit, and fennel salad (FoodieCrush).