Grapefruit – Properties and medicinal uses

Grapefruit or Citrus paradisi is a somewhat bitter fruit from the same family with oranges and lemons. It can be used to lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, aid weight loss, fight skin diseases, relieve constipation, and boost immunity. Continue reading to find more details of these health benefits.

Botanical name: Citrus paradisi
Other names: Shaddock, Marsh grapefruit.

Grapefruit is a fruit of the grapefruit tree, Citrus parasidi, a plant from the botanical family Rutaceae. The grapefruit is similar to orange in both shape and color. This might be due to the fact that grapefruit is a hybrid originating from a cross between sweet orange and pomelo.

There are different varieties of grapefruit. Some have orange pulp, while other have yellow or even pink pulp. The latter with the pink pulp is known for its preventive action against cancer, due to its richness in carotenoids.


  • Grapefruit contains carbohydrates in moderate amounts
  • It contains very low amounts of fats and proteins
  • Grapefruit is not that rich in minerals. It contains small amounts of magnesium, calcium, potassium. It lacks sodium.
  • It contains little amounts of most B-group vitamins. It also contains high amounts of vitamin C, although less than that of orange and lemon.
  • Carotenoids: Earlier in the description above, we learnt that the pinked-pulp grapefruit is a great source of carotenoids. This carotenoids are known for their preventive action against cancer.
  • Pectin: Pectin is a type of vegetable fiber which is soluble and found in many fruits. Grapefruit fruit pectin is found in the fiber forming its pulp and also in the whitish layer just below the skin and between the sections. Fiber has been proven by numerous scientific research to have some anti-cholesterol effects, and can protect blood arteries from damage.
  • Limonoids: Grapefruit is rich in one of the limonoids that constitute its essence, limonene. Limonene gives it some anti-carcinogenic property, and also its characteristic bitter taste.
  • Flavonoids: The presence of flavonoids in grapefruit helps improve blood flow, and also gives the fruit its anti-carcinogenic and antioxidant properties.
7 Evidence-based medicinal uses of grapefruit
  1. Lowers cholesterol
  2. Improves heart health
  3. Good for the skin
  4. Relieves constipation
  5. Boosts immunity
  6. Prevents cancer
  7. Aids weight loss
  • Lowers cholesterol

Grapefruit or its juice consumption may help lower cholesterol level. This fact has been validated by a research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Food and Nutrition. The research evaluated the effect of grapefruit juice consumption on the serum lipid level of 28 healthy adults (1). Its result found intake of grapefruit juice to help lower the level of LDL or bad cholesterol.

  • Improves heart health

Since grapefruit intake can lower your blood cholesterol, it indirectly helps reduce your risk for arteriosclerosis, which is a degenerative process that can affect all of the arteries in the body. This disease begins by cholesterol getting deposited in the inner lining of the arteries, an action that can eventually block blood flow to vital organs such as the heart and brain. And consequences of such blockage are heart attack and stroke.

Moreover, grapefruits are low in both fat and sodium, which are probably the most antagonistic components to heart health. Sodium can raise blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Grapefruits on the other hand, contain potassium in significant amounts.

Potassium helps regulate heart beat, and prevent blood pressure from getting high. These beneficial effects, also reduces your risk for cardiovascular disorders, and improve the functioning of the heart.

  • Improves skin health

Pink and red grapefruit contain significant amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A encourages healthy skin cells production. It has also been found to stimulate the production of fibroblast, which is responsible for making the extracellular matrix and collagen. Together, this matrix and collagen form the structural framework of tissues in animals and plays an important role in tissue repair.

Vitamin A is also an antioxidant that protects the skin from photoaging by protecting each cell from damage by exposure to free-radicals. Grapefruits also contain rich amounts of vitamin C, which is also an effective antioxidant. It can prevent skin aging, and protect it from damage by free radicals.

Grapefruits also contain potassium. This mineral has been found to prevent wrinkles and fight age spots. It also fights skin dryness by keeping cells hydrated and skin internally moisturized.

  • Relieves constipation

The fiber content of grapefruits are good laxatives to fight constipation. Laxatives are agents that add bulk to intestinal contents, that retain water within the bowel lumen by virtue of osmotic effects, or that stimulate intestinal secretion or motility, thereby increasing the frequency and ease of defecation (2).

If you are one of those going through a hard time just to defecate, trying out grapefruits might help in loosening your stool and improving its movement down the colon.

  • Immunity and Cancer

Grapefruit consumption can help boost your body’s immune system. This can be attributed to its high vitamin C content, which stimulates the production of white blood cells – the body’s primary defense system. These cells are responsible for fighting disease-causing microorganisms, and prevent them from infecting our system.

Moreover, grapefruits are rich in antioxidants such as limonoids, vitamin A, and some flavonoids. These antioxidants help reduce the risk for cancerous diseases by fighting the activities of free radicals, whose interaction with body cells initiate the growth of cancer.

  • Aids weight loss

There are several reports that have documented the assistance of grapefruit in weight loss. This can be probably due to the low amounts of calorie it contains. It also provides significant amounts of fiber, which has been proven to increase satiety. Increase satiety, means reduced intake of food, which can affect a person’s weight on the long run. Moreover, grapefruits have very little fat content.

All the above are great characteristics of a weight-loss food. Adding this wonderful fruit to your weight-loss plan wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.

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By Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!


  1. I have certainly read that grapefruit is one of the best foods when it comes to infection fighting. thumbs up and keep on the good work.

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