The Many Health Benefits of Grapefruit – So Much More Than a Slimmer’s Breakfast

Grapefruit has long been used as a healthy — if slightly austere — breakfast for dieters, mainly because it’s full of satisfying flavor yet comes without high levels of fat or refined sugars. A strong hit of citrus first thing in the morning brings your day to life, with varying levels of sweetness or sourness, depending on fruit variety and season. Perhaps less well-known is that grapefruit can have substantial benefits across other areas of health too.

Here are just some of the ways grapefruit can give a boost to your well-being.

The Huge Benefits of Grapefruit

Assists Weight Loss

Of course, grapefruit is best known as a slimmer’s breakfast. Because it is packed full of flavor without many calories and contains a large amount of stomach-filling water, grapefruit can provide a satisfying meal without adding too much to your daily energy intake.

Moreover, grapefruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which slows digestion and helps soften hunger pangs, leading to diet-busting snacking. It also is rich in the antioxidant naringenin, which reduces surges in appetite by stabilizing insulin levels throughout the day.

Strengthens Immune System

The distinctive sour tang of grapefruit stems mainly from its high concentration of vitamin C, which is a vital nutrient for a healthy immune system. A single serving of half a fruit will provide more than three-quarters of the recommended daily dose of the vitamin. Vitamin C works as a natural antihistamine, reducing the severity of coughs and colds and dampening the symptoms of allergies such as hay fever.

Grapefruit also contains high levels of vitamins A, B6, and E, all of which play their part in strengthening the immune system.

Anxiety and Stress Relief

Grapefruit can work to relieve stress and anxiety, although no one knows precisely why.  Citrus oils have long been used in aromatherapy for this purpose, and studies have shown that citrus extracts have a calming effect on mice.

The explanation may simply be that the tartness of the fruit is energizing and revitalizing, bringing forth a sense of well-being. More scientifically, there seems to be a correlation between vitamin C deficiency and low mood, implying that the nutrient indeed plays a role in mental well-being.

Eating grapefruit in the morning gives a welcome lift when many people feel at their most sluggish, while the afternoon blues can be banished by the mild energy boost provided by the fruit’s natural sugars.

Kidney Health

Grapefruit’s naringenin content promotes healthy kidneys by retarding the formation of renal cysts and kidney stones. Also, a diuretic, naringenin prompts the body to pass water more often; this helps to prevent fluid retention, which can place pressure on your kidneys.

Reduces Gum Disease

Grapefruit’s powerful combination of vitamin C, citric acid, and plentiful antioxidants work to neutralize the bacterial deposits that provoke gum disease. At the same time, the antihistamine action can reduce the swelling that gingivitis causes. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but grapefruit can be bad news for your dentist’s appointments diary!

Cancer Protection

As with most cancer discussions, grapefruit’s possible role in preventing the disease is controversial. Nonetheless, vitamin C has long been held to slow tumor formation and growth, an effect observed in laboratory experiments with mice.

Intriguingly, a 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that naringenin boosted the repair of damaged DNA in human prostate cells, complementing other cancer therapies and helping to prevent the recurrence of the disease.

More widely, natural intake of vitamin C from food rather than supplements is linked to protection against cancers throughout the digestive system, from throat to stomach to colon. There is also a school of thought that grapefruit can help prevent breast cancer, purportedly by purging the body of excess estrogen, although this has yet to be verified.

It seems that the media is always hyping up a new candidate for “superfood” status, but in the case of grapefruit, all these health benefits show that it’s right to hold the fruit in high esteem. The tart flavor isn’t for everyone, but there’s little doubt that once you acquire the taste, grapefruit can be an extremely valuable and nutritious addition to your diet.

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