Feb. 7. 2014
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

Hooray for grapefruit! February marks several “food holidays” and one of them being National Grapefruit Month. Today I share the Spotlight On Grapefruit about interesting facts and nutrition about this juicy citrus fruit. Grapefruits are loaded with vitamin C and is one of my personal favorite citrus fruits to enjoy year round. They’re delicious and refreshing in salads, as a snack, in desserts, or eaten au naturel.

Grapefruits come in several varieties including red, white, and pink- all taste relatively similar in my opinion, slightly sweet and bitter. One of my favorite ways to enjoy grapefruit is cutting into wedges and eating it similar to an orange fruit. There are many recipes and ways to incorporate grapefruit into your diet, here’s a couple of ways.


  • Peel like an orange and eat as is
  • In a small bowl place a grapefruit half, individually cut segments loose from the skin, and eat with a spoon
  • Cut into wedges and eat like orange slices, not the rhine
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and powdered stevia for a bit of extra sweetness if it’s too bitter for you
  • Cut in half. Drizzle maple syrup on top and pop on the grill for about 8 minutes or until the grapefruits outer flesh is caramelized- perfect with BanaNO Ice Cream for a dessert.
  • Slice thinly and top on a Massaged Kale Salad
  • Mix with other fruits for a delicious fruit salad, use the grapefruit peel as a decorative bowl
  • Enjoy in my Watermelon Grapefruit Blackberry Salad with Honey Mint Drizzle.


Now that we’ve covered a little bit about the many ways to enjoy your grapefruits, let’s go into a little bit more detail about the health benefits of this vitamin C rich fruit.

Nutrient breakdown of GRAPEFRUIT |

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C } in 100g it contains 52% DRI of vitamin C
  • Copper
  • Fiber } pectin, which is a source of insoluble fiber. This type of fiber helps with providing bulk in your digestive system and helps with bowel movements and eliminating toxic substances. Healthy digestive system = healthy body
  • Potassium
  • Biotin
  • Vitamin B1, B5
  • Antioxidants } lycopene especially in the red and pink varieties, naringenin and naringin
  • Phytonutrients  } limonoids
  • Small quantities of minerals } iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus

Grapefruits have long been known for their potent vitamin C content, but what else makes this fruit special? Grapefruit also contains antioxidants that help support the immune system, cardiovascular system, decrease cholesterol, may help reduce cold symptoms, and ultimately helps fight free radical damage in the body, which would otherwise lead to inflammation. Did I mention they taste amazing as well?

6 Facts about Grapefruit

  1. Vitamin C // In just 1/2 (100g) of grapefruit there is roughly 60% daily value for vitamin C! That’s more than half of your daily need.
  2. Lycopene // It contains a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which also contributes to the pinkish color in the fruit. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient and has the highest capacity at fighting free radical damage to cells.
  3. Weight loss // Eating grapefruit has also been shown to help decrease weight and fat mass in overweight adults and may improve insulin resistance.
  4. Low sugar // Is considered a low GI (glycemic index) fruit, which basically is a measure of the foods impact on your blood sugar levels. Typically the lower the GI, the better (in most cases). 1/2 of a grapefruit is only 8g of sugar in comparison to higher sugar fruits.
  5. Body fat // May help reduce body fat in some individuals when mixed with other compounds such as caffeine, grapefruit polyphenols, and other antioxidants found in the berry family of fruits.
  6. Metabolism // May increase metabolic rate (i.e. metabolism!), by working on a cellular level increasing the amount of ATP, which is a fancy way of saying “cellular energy”.

NOTE // some individuals who take prescription medications should be extra cautious when incorporating grapefruit into their diets. Grapefruit has a strong interaction with some of the most widely prescribed medications. Why? Grapefruit contains a compound called naringenin that inactivates cytochrome P450 3A4 (a fancy way of saying an enzyme in the small intestine that metabolizes some prescription drugs). This slows down the normal detoxification and metabolism in the liver and intestines, which makes it harder for the body to eliminate and breakdown the drug. Not only can grapefruit decrease the function of a drug, but it can also enhance making the drug more potent- both of these side effects are no good when you’re trying to regulate a medical condition with a prescription drug. Best advice is to do your research and ask your physician.

TIP // When buying grapefruit, the best ones will be heavy for their weight- this indicates they have much more water and are ripe.

What are your favorite ways to eat grapefruit? Share below and stay tuned for the next fruit spotlight for the month of February.

Have a beautiful day!

xo McKel