The Goodness of Grapefruit-Benefits and Cautions

I was eating grapefruit and kept thinking, why can I eat it without sugar, but as a kid I had to load it up with sugar to get it down?  This brought me on the grapefruit research journey and turned up some great information. It revealed the Goodness of Grapefruit with its Benefits and its Cautions.

Did the sweetness of grapefruit change because my taste buds changed over time, or had the fruit changed over time?

First, grapefruit is sour, semi-sweet fruit. It’s a fruit made from an accidental cross between a sweet orange and a pomelo.  I started thinking about the sour part and realized I couldn’t eat grapefruit without sugar as a kid, because I had a great sensitivity to bitter or sour.  Another theory would be my taste buds are less sensitive with age.  

Red, pink and white/yellow are the three types of grapefruits.  Grapefruits are usually about 3 ¾ inches in diameter.

A half of fruit equals 52 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, is very high in vitamin A and C, and contains potassium. Grapefruits contain loads of antioxidants and are made up of 92% water.

Grapefruits are grown in Texas, California, and Florida.  The Sweetness of each fruit varies with the temperatures they are grown and stored in and the varieties of grapefruit.   Ruby, Marsh, Duncan and Melo Gold are some of these varieties. They are used for table eating or fruit juice.  


Red and pink types of grapefruit have a reddish flesh and have some bitter.  But are mostly known for its sweetness and are palatable. The red flesh contains lycopene which is a cancer-fighting antioxidant.

Yellow grapefruit has a white/yellow skin and is the least sweet with a sweet-tart taste. It’s hard to put each of the types in a specific sweetness category. There are many variances on sweetness because of the variety and how they are grown.

Most people eat grapefruit cut in half with a spoon.   Some peel the grapefruit like an orange but the white part known as the pith is bitter. If you eat the Pith, it’s good for you!  It contains fiber, many antioxidants, and nutrients that mostly get thrown in the garbage.

Add grapefruit to salads or try roasting them in the oven.  I simply enjoy them cut in half at breakfast or to end my meal at dinner.  Make sure you squeeze all the juice onto your spoon to not lose out on nutrients.

At this point I began to think, maybe my mom purchased the yellow grapefruit because I don’t remember eating red or pink ones very often.  That may explain why I added so much sugar. Over the years, the varieties and growing environments have improved resulting in a sweeter tasting grapefruit.

Grapefruit at a meal
Eat a Grapefruit at lunch or dinner.

The Goodness


This goodness comes from all the nutritional benefits grapefruits bring to your body.  Grapefruit can help with cancer prevention, decrease heart disease and lower blood pressure, as well as cholesterol levels.  It can also help with eye-related disorders and it is also an anti-inflammatory. 

Grapefruit also can help your immune system because of the high sources of Vitamin C it provides. Vitamin C also helps the formation of collagen for your skin.

There is an enzyme in your body called protein kinase and it becomes activated by compounds in grapefruit that help to boost your metabolism.   This is why in the 80s and 90s we saw the Grapefruit diet in full swing.   The diet had everyone consume excessive amounts of grapefruit to increase their metabolism.  

No one food in excess is good for you. We need to eat a variety of foods in moderation.  If you are eating half of grapefruit 2-4x per week, I am sure you will maintain plenty of the goodness of grapefruit. 

Grapefruits have a low glycemic index of 25 and don’t raise blood sugars as much as other fruits like a banana. 


Grapefruit Cautions

Grapefruit can be beneficial, so what could be the problem?   If you eat a regular diet and take no medications you probably with see the goodness of grapefruit.  If you are taking medications, this is where the problems come and why I bring you caution.  

There are over 85 drugs on the market that interfere with grapefruit intakes.   These drugs may cause minimum effectiveness when eaten with grapefruits such as in allergy medications like Allegra and Claritin.  Some medicines used for gastric reflux disease, GERD, can also have a minimum effect with grapefruit.   

Most of the time grapefruit increases the potency or strength of the drug and causes serious adverse effects.

These include drugs used for anticancer, cardiovascular drugs, blood pressure, psychiatric, gastrointestinal medicines, urinary tract agents, immune suppressants, pain meds, antidiabetic drugs,  statin- cholesterol-lowering drugs and estrogen.  Mostly the adverse reactions are drug specific. With 85 drugs and half of them having adverse reactions there are too many to list.    

If you take a medication and love grapefruit, talk to a pharmacist about your medication and grapefruit intake.    Sometimes, you will have to say no to grapefruit and in some meds like blood thinners you can tell your pharmacist how often you eat it and eat it consistently so they can regulate your medicine each week.

The older you get the more medicines you are likely taking so your chance of grapefruit interference on your medicine becomes greater. In long-term care, the risk is so great, that unfortunately, grapefruit isn’t even on the menu.

My goal is not to scare you away from Grapefruit.  If you are healthy and taking no medicines, include Grapefruit in your diet this winter.  Especially if you are sick of the apple, orange, banana season we can get stuck in. Know that when you eat a grapefruit there is goodness.  

I have to conclude, my taste buds changed, my mom purchased the yellow variety more often than the sweeter red or pink grapefruit and grapefruits have become a little sweeter over the years. Now I am enjoying the goodness of Grapefruit!


Thank you to the Cuyuna Medical Center Pharmacists for providing me with a list of grapefruit-medication interactions.   Talk to your Pharmacist for Medication Interactions with Grapefruit.

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6 thoughts on “The Goodness of Grapefruit-Benefits and Cautions”

  1. Anna, I don’t think they had the pink variety when we were growing up. It is sort of like how now it is hard to find watermelon with seeds. Pink is preferred and that is what you can find.

    1. You are right. That is why we only had the sour yellow ones, that I piled the sugar on. Pink and Red have Vitamin A in them too. Thanks! Anna

  2. I sometimes buy the fresh jar of grapefruit segments from the produce section. Now they have sugar free! Otherwise I eat them in wedges like oranges. I love grapefruit juice you. I take Losartin for BP. Is there a reaction to this drug?

    1. I would ask your pharmacist, but I believe it will not be as effective with grapefruit. When grapefruit is not in season, I love the cups of grapefruit at Costco.

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