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What is grapefruit?

Grapefruit is part of the citrus family and grows in clusters on trees, like grapes – this is said to be where the name originates. Grapefruits come in a variety of colours, including yellow, pink and red, and flavours, from sweet to sour.

Discover our full range of health benefit guides and check out some of our best grapefruit recipes, from our sweet potato pancakes with orange & grapefruit, to our turkey steaks with citrus & ginger sauce.

The benefits of grapefruit may include:

  1. Rich in antioxidants, beta-carotene and lycopene
  2. Supporting heart health and improving cholesterol levels
  3. Some evidence to suggest they may aid weight loss
  4. Managing blood sugar and reducing risk of type-2 diabetes
  5. Promoting better brain function

Nutritional profile of grapefruit

An 80g serving of fresh grapefruit provides:

  • 24 kcals/101 KJ
  • 0.6g protein
  • 0.1g fat
  • 5.4g carbohydrates
  • 1.4g fibre
  • 160mg potassium
  • 29mg vit C

Half a fresh grapefruit or 80g canned grapefruit counts as one five-a-day portion, and 150ml of unsweetened grapefruit juice also counts, but only once due to its high sugar content.

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Top 5 health benefits of grapefruit

1. Rich in antioxidants

Grapefruit provides a number of beneficial, protective nutrients and plant compounds that have antioxidant properties. This means they help protect cells from the potential damage caused by unstable molecules, called free radicals.

In particular, they’re a good source of beta-carotene, which is converted in the body to vitamin A, and is thought to reduce the risk of chronic conditions, including macular degeneration. Grapefruit is also a useful source of lycopene, which is associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

2. May support heart health

In 2012, the American Heart Association published a report that suggested that a diet high in certain flavonoids – compounds found in citrus fruits, including grapefruit – may lower a woman’s risk of stroke. However, more research is needed to understand exactly why this is.

Grapefruit is rich in potassium and fibre, as well as protective antioxidants that may help manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Human studies have demonstrated the beneficial role grapefruit, and specifically red grapefruit, may play a part in helping improve cholesterol levels, particularly in those suffering with atherosclerosis.

3. May help with weight loss

While low in calories and high in fibre, eating grapefruit is unlikely to deliver the dramatic weight loss touted in some fad diets; however, there is some evidence to suggest that consuming grapefruit may be of some assistance. A 12-week Japanese study looked at the effects of grapefruit versus a placebo, and there was a significant reduction in weight, as well as blood glucose levels, in those participants who consumed half a grapefruit before meals.

4. May aid blood sugar management

Animal studies have examined the beneficial role grapefruit juice may play in reducing blood glucose levels and improving insulin resistance. This is further supported by a higher fruit and green vegetable intake being associated with a significantly reduced risk of type-2 diabetes.

5. May promote better brain function

There is some promising research into the role of flavonoids in the diet and improvements in memory and cognition, as well as the prevention of neurodegenerative conditions. However, it is too early to say whether grapefruit in particular has a significant impact on brain health.

Can grapefruit affect prescription medications?

The NHS advises that fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice should not be consumed with certain medications, as it has been shown to reduce their breakdown and elimination, which can result in increased blood levels of the drug. These include, but are not limited to: statins, calcium channel blockers, immunosuppressants, certain cancer medications and Entocort, which is used to treat Crohn’s disease. Always check with your GP if you're taking a prescription medication before consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice.

Read more from the NHS about how grapefruit can affect medicine.

Overall, is grapefruit good for you?

A fruit well worth incorporating into your diet, grapefruit contains immune-boosting vitamin C, antioxidants to protect against cell damage, vitamin A-stimulating beta-carotene, and lycopene, which is associated with a reduced risk of cancer. There is also some evidence to suggest that consuming half a grapefruit before meals could help with weight loss, plus it could help to reduce blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance.

Healthy grapefruit recipes

Grapefruit, orange & apricot salad
Prawn, pomegranate & grapefruit salad
Turkey steaks with citrus & ginger sauce
Prawn & pink grapefruit noodle salad
Lettuce rolls

Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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