Merely hearing the name of this juicy fruit, or seeing it in the produce aisle, can make our palates cringe and our face scrunch up. Although the slightly bitter and sour grapefruit may not cater to some taste buds, its red, pink, and white pulp varieties are loaded with vitamins and minerals, which add on to its touted health benefits. The moon-shaped fruit is not only rich in vitamin C, but it also provides us with unexpected benefits — from our immune system to our metabolism.

Lauren Blake, a registered dietician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, believes we should opt for the pink- and red-colored varieties to reap the most benefits of this cancer-fighting fruit. "Pink and red colored grapefruit contain the antioxidant lycopene,” Blake told Medical Daily in an email. “Lycopene appears to have propertied that help fight free radicals, which are compounds that can damage cells.” Add this low-calorie fruit to your diet today to uncover the great benefits of grapefruit for your health.

1. Strengthens Immune System

It is well known any fruit rich in vitamin C will strengthen and support our immune system. Vitamin C works with other micronutrients that provide good and regular nourishment for the body. Micronutrient deficiencies of vitamins A, B6, C, and E have been found to alter immune responses in animals and are thought to have a similar effect on the human immune response.  

Maintaining good levels of vitamin C in the body can reduce the severity of cold symptoms, acting as a natural antihistamine. This makes it helpful in controlling allergies, since it reduces histamine levels. "Grapefruit is abundant in vitamin C which help supports the immune system,” Blake said. “Half of a grapefruit provides about 78 percent of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C."

2. Boosts Metabolism

Grapefruit is a popular diet staple among those looking to lose weight. A high metabolism can continue to burn fat in the body even when it is resting. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found people who ate half a grapefruit before each meal, without making any other dietary changes, lost an average of 3 and a half pounds over 12 weeks.

The copious amount of enzymes, high-water content, and less sodium helps burn fat easily. Blake said: “While grapefruit does not have any magical fat-burning properties, it is low in calories and is a good source of fiber, which helps keep us full for longer by taking longer to digest. ... Grapefruit also has a high water content which can help you feel full and stay hydrated.”

3. Reduces Kidney Stones Risk

Naringenin — known for its bitter taste of grapefruit — has been found to successfully prevent the formation of kidney cysts. According to a report by AlphaGalileo.org, the naturally occurring compound regulates the PKD2 protein that is responsible for the condition. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects not only help prevent the formation of cysts, but also reduce swelling in the kidneys that is caused by fluid retention. Drinking up to a liter of grapefruit juice daily will help reap the greatest benefits in effectively blocking the formation of kidney cysts.

4. Fights Gum Disease

Simply eating two grapefruits a day can prevent and even reverse damage caused by gum disease. A 2005 study published in the British Dental Journal found the daily consumption of grapefruit can reduce gum bleeding for those who suffer from gum disease. The participants in the study also showed an increase in their vitamin C levels, which aids in the repair of gums. Vitamin C, according to Blake, is essential for healthy gums, which helps keep our teeth firmly in place.

5. Protects Against Cancer

The antioxidant vitamin C has been linked to decrease the risk of certain cancers. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found grapefruits help repair damaged DNA in human prostate cancer cells. Naringenin stimulates DNA repair in these cancer cells and protects the body from developing cancer.

"Diets high in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant found in many fruits and vegetables such as grapefruit, had been linked to a reduced risk of cancers of the stomach, colon, bladder, breast, and esophagus,” said Blake. She cautions these results are specific to vitamin C rich foods, rather than supplements.

6. Reduces Stress

You don’t necessarily have to ingest grapefruit to reap its benefits. The smell of citrus fruit can make a difference on curbing our stress and anxiety levels, and depression. A 1995 study published in the Japanese Journal of Psychopharmacology found citrus fragrance restored stress-induced immunosuppression, and induced calm behavior in mice.

Chanté Floreani, an apothecary Artisan and founder of Root Down Botanicals, believes natural fragrance and the science of aromatherapy can inspire well-being of mind, body, and spirit through the “therapeutic power of plants.” Floreani’s three blends, which includes grapefruit to “energize and cheer,” is used in the morning to get the day started with energy and mental alertness. “Each is formulated to respond to the emotional shifts we experience throughout our day by harnessing the therapeutic qualities of pure essential oils,” Floreani told Medical Daily in an email.

Reap the benefits of grapefruit by adding it to your diet.