Grapefruit is a popular citrus fruit that has a sweet taste with sour undertones. It is well-known for having a number of health benefits. Its nutrient profile, which includes antioxidants, micronutrients, and fiber, means that it is one of the most nutritionally dense citrus fruits on the market. When most people think of the health benefits of citrus in general, they think of vitamin C, but there’s so much more to this humble fruit. For instance, it can be good for your digestive system too.
A Filling, Low-Calorie Nutrient Bomb
An average grapefruit contains four grams of fiber, which is quite an impressive amount considering a whole fruit is only just over 100 calories.1 Digestive health is quite a complicated subject, but if you remember one thing from this guide to a healthy digestive system, it should be that fiber is essential for keeping things running.2
Grapefruit contains relatively few calories for its size and weight because it is primarily made up of water (good for hydration) and fiber, which is vital for digestion. Both of these will fill you up, and the sweet taste combined with the satiating effect of the fiber can help reduce cravings and keep your appetite under control.3 Additionally, the fiber slows the rate at which food leaves your stomach, meaning that you feel full for longer and that the sugars in the food are digested and enter your bloodstream more slowly.4
Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Stones
The benefits of grapefruit aren’t just limited to helping you eat less if you want to lose weight. Studies show that consuming grapefruit could help reduce the risk of kidney stones. These stones are produced by a build-up of waste material in the kidneys.
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When the kidneys are working properly, they filter out the waste that is produced from metabolizing food and drink and allow that waste to be removed as urine. When this process goes awry, the waste products crystalize in the kidneys. Large kidney stones can actually create a blockage in the urinary system, and while they will usually pass out of the body naturally, they can be very painful while your body is trying to get rid of them.
The most common kind of kidney stone is made from calcium oxalate. Grapefruits are rich in citric acid, which can actually help stop the kidney stone from forming. The citric acid will bind with calcium in the kidneys and help ensure that the calcium is flushed out the body quickly.5 Citric acid has another benefit, too. It increases the volume of the urine and helps create a pH level where the stones are less likely to form in the first place.6
Rich in Antioxidants
Grapefruit contains a number of powerful antioxidants, including Vitamin C, lycopene, flavanones, and beta carotene.
These antioxidants can help protect your cells from the damage that is caused by free radicals. A lot of the effects of aging and disease are actually brought on, in part, by free radicals.7
Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant which is best known for helping prevent certain eye-related disorders, but which can also help prevent heart disease.8 Lycopene is thought to help prevent the growth of certain kinds of cancer and can help to reduce the side-effects associated with some cancer treatments.9
Flavanones have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can have a protective effect against many inflammatory, metabolic, and cardiovascular disorders.10
Improve Your Gut Microbiome
One thing that a lot of people don’t realize about the digestive system is that it isn’t just made up of the stomach, intestines, and other associated organs. The body actually plays host to a wide number of bacteria, and these microbes help break down the food that you eat. They also impact well-being and mood, influence cravings, and can affect how efficiently people extract calories from food.11
Studies show that individuals can influence their gut microbiome. If you eat foods that are high in simple carbohydrates and sugars, then certain gut microbes will thrive. If you eat foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates or fiber, then other, more beneficial microbes will thrive.12
Grapefruit Is Great, But It’s Not for Everyone
While it is clear that grapefruit has a lot of benefits and has the potential to improve most people’s health, it is not something that everyone should consume in great quantities. For example, grapefruit contains substances which can inhibit an enzyme known as cytochrome P450. This enzyme is used to metabolize certain medications, including some statins, as well as immunosuppressants, benzodiazepines, and certain kinds of calcium channel blocker.13
If you are taking prescription medications of any kind, then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor before making significant changes to your diet. In addition, be sure to read the leaflets that come with any medication that you are given so that you know if there are any foods or supplements that you should avoid.
Grapefruit can also damage your tooth enamel because of the citric acid. If you have sensitive teeth or other dental issues, then you may want to moderate your consumption of grapefruit. When you do eat it, do not suck on the fruit for extended periods of time. Be sure to brush your teeth after eating too. This is a good habit to get into at all times, not just when eating grapefruit, but it is a particularly sensible precaution when you are eating acidic fruits.
If you eat grapefruit regularly, then consider eating cheese with the fruits. The alkaline nature of the cheese will help neutralize the acidity of the fruit, and it will also encourage your mouth to produce more saliva, which will help to protect your teeth.
With its wide range of digestive benefits, grapefruit may be well-worth incorporating into your daily diet given that it fits your particular lifestyle.
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