Grapefruit Diet: To Grapefruit or Not To Grapefruit
This blog will be a deep discussion of the grapefruit diet, as in when to grapefruit in our diet and when not to do so.
I will not be discussing the once upon a popular fad of grapefruit diet because, well, I don’t believe in any diet that solely focuses on one food item. Cause it is not fun.
Having said that I do believe that most of the fad diets come from a good place and some truth.
I will be discussing why the grapefruit diet was once a thing of its own? It is true that it aids in weight loss, but it is not a sustainable diet.
Plus, I am absolutely dumbfounded with the idea that so many people thing that natural is always safe. Just because an ingredient is natural does not mean it can’t be harmful. It is important to understand the benefit vs harm of the food item at hand using a combination of factors including comorbidity, age, gender, genetic makeup, etc. Some really healthy food items are dangerous for certain populations. I believe that depending on the situation nature provides both the remedy and the poison.
Why should we include grapefruit in our daily diet?
Grapefruit is nutritious and delicious.
We can get 45% of the adult recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin c C just from half of a single grapefruit! It also has 175 mg of potassium (hello better water balance, lower blood pressure, improved metabolism, better functioning nervous system) and 2 g of fibre.
These are some evidence based benefits of regular consumption of Grapefruit:
1. Increases the immune system
As I mentioned earlier, grapefruit is packed with vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties known to protect your cells from free radical damage, bacteria and viruses. Moreover, there have been studies that show once infected with flu, vitamin C intake increases the recovery time.
In addition, grapefruit has a significant vitamin A content, which protects against inflammation and infections. Grapefruit also has trace levels of B vitamins, zinc, copper and iron, which all work together in the body to promote the immune system and integrity of your skin which is a protective barrier that reduces the risk of infection.
2. Protects against high cholesterol
Grapefruits are very high in pectin, a soluble fiber, helpful to lower blood cholesterol. In addition, it has a significant content of flavanones, anti-inflammatory chemical, which help to reduce cholesterol (reduces LDL) and blood pressure. Thus, it plays a significant role in cardiovascular/heart health. Lastly, potassium content of grapefruit is another element which helps to reduce blood pressure and the risk of death from heart disease.
3. Reduces the risk of cancer
Grapefruit contains high content of antioxidants responsible with halting the cell damage from unstable free radicals. Thus, it protects your cells from harm that induce aging, genetic mutations and cancer.
These are the antioxidant content of a grapefruit:
- Vitamin C: Protects from cell damage leading to heart disease and cancer.
- Beta-carotene: Reduces the risk of some chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer and eye-related disorders like macular degeneration, as it gets converted to vitamin A in the body.
- Lycopene: An antioxidant, especially high in pink and red grapefruit, which has been noted to prevent the development of certain cancers & tumors, especially prostate cancer. A 6 year Harvard study involving 48,000 health professionals has linked servings of lycopene-rich food a week with a 50% reduction in prostate cancer. That is a very significant reduction!
- Flavanones: An anti-inflammatory chemical that helps to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Phenolic acid: This is known to inhibit formation of nitrosamine which is carcinogenic.
- Bioflavanoids: inhibits the hormone that promote tumor growth.
- Limonoids, terpenes, monoterpenes: All induce the production of enzyme that prevent cancer.
3. Helps weight Loss
Grapefruit is a good product to include in a weight loss program which is why there has been some hype about getting on the grapefruit diet for weight loss. There is evidence to suggest daily intake of grapefruit reduces waist circumference in the obese population. This fruit makes sense to be used for weight loss one serving contains less than 100 calories plus a high fiber content which promotes satiety.
Grapefruit aids in weight loss by:
- It’s high water content which makes it extremely hydrating and provides a low caloric content. Water makes up most of the grapefruit’s weight( 8 ounces (118 ml) of water per fruit, which is 88% of its weight).
- Appetite control: Grapefruit contains 2 grams of fiber per fruit, which is a high fiber content, thus induces feelings of fullness by slowing the rate of stomach emptying and slowing the total digestion time. Therefore, adequate fiber intake will help to control appetite and lead to fewer calorie consumption per day.
The fact that grapefruit aids in weight loss does mean that grapefruit diet alone can be effective, however it makes more sense to add it to an already healthy diet.
4. Eases Pain Associated with inflammatory Disorders
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that daily intake of grapefruit leads to symptom relief for those with inflammatory disorders (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, etc.). This may be because plant chemicals can block inflammatory prostaglandins.
When Not To Grapefruit?
The number 1 reason not to eat grape fruit is due to FOOD-DRUG INTERACTIONS:
The reason grapefruit is a good weight loss product is because it speeds up your digestion and metabolism. However, if you are taking medications and you want its effect to last, grapefruit is something you want to stay away from. Moreover, compounds in grapefruit juice enhance the effects of certain medications as it contains substances that inhibit cytochrome P450, the enzyme responsible with metabolizing certain medications. If you eat grapefruit while taking these medications, your body may not be able to break them down, which could cause an overdose and other adverse effects.
Steer clear of grapefruit if you are taking:
- Most calcium channel blockers
- Some statins
As a precautionary measure, avoid taking any drugs with grapefruit unless its cleared by your doctor/pharmacist to do so.
Other reasons for not consuming grapefruit:
Allergic Reactions: Anyone allergic to citrus fruits will likely react to grapefruits. The sensitivity may stem from the fruit itself or the peel.
Canker sores: If you are prone to painful mouth sores, you may want to stay away from grapefruit and other citrusy fruits.
Tooth enamel erosion: Grapefruit is acidic and can cause tooth enamel erosion if consumed in high levels.
Grapefruit is one of the healthiest foods to exist, so our recommendation is to grapefruit, over not to grapefruit. However, do keep in mind that if you are taking any medications, grapefruit can act by increasing the effect/dose of the drug and reducing its half-life.
Miscalleneous Tips for keeping Grapefruit in your life:
- Honey coated red grape fruit sections are yummy with salmon.
- Enjoy a colorful salad by layering thinly sliced grapefruit, red onion and avacado.
- Simply eat it by cutting it into wedges, sprinkling it with Himalayan salt & lemon.
- Best grapefruits are firm and heavy for their size.
- The skin of the grapefruit should not have bruises or wrinkles and it should be bright and colorful.
Dr. Laleh Maroufi