Benefits of Grapefruit

Overview

As citrus fruits go, grapefruit is relatively new, about 300 years old. Thought to be a hybrid mix between an orange and a pomelo, it wasn't until the latter part of the 19th century that grapefruit began to be cultivated commercially. Today there is increasing evidence of the many health benefits provided by grapefruit, including its function as a weight-loss aid, as an aid in repairing DNA damage, and as a cholesterol-reducing aid. In addition, its high level of vitamin C provides many health benefits.

Grapefruit as a weight-loss aid

Because grapefruit is low in sodium and calories, it is an excellent food for dieters. One half of a grapefruit contains only 74 calories, making it a food that the dieter can freely consume, guilt-free. Grapefruit also contains high amounts of enzymes and potassium that are known to burn fat. The water content in grapefruit is also high (90 percent), which helps increase metabolism, which in turn aids weight loss.

Aid in repair of DNA damage

DNA repair can help prevent cancer because of its function in reducing mutations in cells. As a result of a joint study undertaken by scientists from the University of California at Los Angeles and Zhongshan University in China, naringenin, a compound found in grapefruit, was found to be helpful in repairing damaged DNA material in prostate cancer cells.

Cholesterol

As reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Israeli researchers have discovered that heart bypass patients given a diet of one grapefruit a day lowered bad cholesterol significantly. Because some of the patients were fed red grapefruit and others white, it was found that red grapefruit contained more antioxidants and did a better job of lowering cholesterol. Patients fed red grapefruit had lower triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels.

Vitamin C

Like most citrus fruits, grapefruit contains vitamin C, known for its cold-fighting capabilities. Vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, may also have value in preventing cancer and heart disease, according to researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

Interactions

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can produce unwelcome interactions with certain prescription drugs, so you should consult with your physician or pharmacist before taking some drugs and consuming grapefruit simultaneously. For example, grapefruit increases the amount of statin in the system, which can cause rhaddomyolysis, a condition that can trigger temporary muscle weakness or paralysis.

About this Author

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.

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