As its appearance reflects, the grapefruit is actually thought to be a hybrid between a pomelo and a sweet orange. The beautiful pink-fleshed citrus fruit is a low calorie breakfast staple for many.
But how, you may be wondering, can grapefruit fit into a healthy diet for those with diabetes?
Well, grapefruit happens to be a relatively low carb fruit that fits perfectly into your menu.
Most people do just fine with smaller amounts of the fruit (think half of a grapefruit), and its many nutritional benefits definitely shouldn’t go unrecognized.
Read on for a thorough exploration of how this sweet-and-sour delight can help round out a healthy diabetic diet.
Grapefruit Nutrition Facts
- Grapefruit is low in calories (30-4o per half grapefruit) and as already suggested it's relatively low in carbohydrates at 8-10 grams of carbohydrates per half grapefruit.
- That same half grapefruit also contains 1 to 1.5 grams of fiber.
- Half a grapefruit contains approximately 59% of your recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin C, 7% RDA copper and vitamin A, 5% RDA potassium, and 4% RDA biotin and vitamin B1.
- Grapefruit has a low glycemic index of just 25.
When eating grapefruit, be sure to pair it with a protein or fat source such as nuts, cottage cheese, or yogurt. Eating fats and proteins with carbohydrate sources helps slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Health Benefits of Grapefruit
Vitamin C: This powerhouse antioxidant helps boost immunity, prevent colds, helps with tissue repair, and promotes heart health.
Lycopene: Another antioxidant, found only in pink and red grapefruit (not white). It helps protect against cancer and tumor growth.
Limonoids: Phytonutrients found in citrus fruits that help protect against cancer and may help lower cholesterol.
Pectin: This soluble fiber may help lower total and LDL cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis (artery narrowing).
Research on Grapefruit and Type 2 Diabetes
Many scientists believe that grapefruit can be helpful in the management of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases due to its powerful flavonoid content.
In animal studies, Naringin, a flavonoid found in grapefruit juice, was found to improve symptoms of ketoacidosis in type 1 diabetes, along with decreasing overall oxidative stress. Therefore, it likely offers benefits for type 2 diabetics as well.
In one study, diabetic rats who drank grapefruit juice showed an improvement in glucose tolerance due to less production of glucose in the liver (gluconeogenesis).
Another animal study found that grapefruit extract consumption significantly improved hyperglycemia by regulating glucose metabolism in the liver and reducing expression of proinflammatory genes both in the liver and in visceral fat (belly fat).
Grapefruit seed extract has been found to lower blood glucose, lipids, and cardiovascular disease risk in normal animal subjects.
Further studies must be done, but overall the evidence suggests that grapefruit and grapefruit seed extract could be useful for those with type 2 diabetes.
Points for Consideration
This is an extremely important section of our guides to all fruits and vegetables, but it’s especially significant for grapefruit.
Grapefruit interacts negatively with a host of very serious medications, including:
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins)
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Erectile dysfunction medications
- HIV drugs
- Some birth control pills
This may sound extreme, but if you are taking medication of any kind, it’s a good idea to consult with a doctor or pharmacist before consuming grapefruit.
Grapefruit in the Kitchen
Grapefruit comes in pink, red, and white (‘blond’) varieties.
Look for heavier, firm-to-the-touch fruits with smooth, blemish-free skin.
Grapefruit can be stored at room temperature for up to one week, or in the fridge for two to three weeks.
Grapefruit tastes fantastic on its own, but it also shines when paired with plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or feta cheese.
Another great idea is to use it as a topper for any kind of salad, especially during the wintertime when it’s in season.
There are a few different cutting methods for grapefruit. Some people like to simply cut the fruit in half and attack it with a spoon – bonus points if you own one of those special grapefruit spoons with a sharper edge!
If you want to make the fruit a bit easier to eat, and decrease the odds of you getting squirted in the eye with its juice, cut the fruit in half first.
Then, lay one half flat on a cutting board and try to take off as much of its skin as you can using a sharp knife.
Slice carefully along its membranes to cut the fruit into bite-sized segments, and enjoy!
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